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Subject & Degree Proposals

There are standard processes by which committees – comprised of faculty from all five Schools and students – review proposals for new and revised subjects and degrees, in so doing accumulating and sharing best practices and improving MIT's curricula. At the undergraduate level, the primary committees involved are the Committee on Curricula (CoC) and the Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP), and the CUP's permanent subcommittees: the Subcommittee on the Communication Requirement (SOCR) and the Subcommittee on the Humanities Requirement (SHR). At the graduate level, the primary committee involved is the Committee on Graduate Programs (CGP). This page provides detailed guidelines for these processes.

Undergraduate Proposals

New Undergraduate Degree Proposals

Proposing a New Undergraduate Degree Program to the MIT Faculty and its Standing Committees

This overview provides general information about the process and sequence of steps involved in establishing a new undergraduate degree program. Prior to completing the Proposal Form, please write to new_degree@mit.edu for additional guidance and instruction.

For information on proposing a new undergraduate minor, please visit the Committee on Curricula site.

Download this page as a PDF document here.

Proposal Form for a New Degree Program: After logging in with your MIT certificate, click the green "Propose New Program" button.

Background

Consistent with the guidelines for approval of new undergraduate degree programs, which were voted into place by the MIT Faculty in May 2003, the review of a new undergraduate degree program is a multi-committee process. The primary committees involved are the Subcommittee on the Communication Requirement (SOCR), the Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP), and the Committee on Curricula (CoC).

Preliminary drafts are encouraged, particularly for proposals involving interdisciplinary and joint programs or proposals that raise questions concerning Rules and Regulations of the Faculty and/or other existing policies governing the undergraduate program. Proposals should not be submitted in final form until they have been vetted by the appropriate School and departmental curriculum committees.

On the proposal form, you will be asked to provide basic information about the degree program (the rationale for establishing it, anticipated demand for the degree, other programs that may be affected by the program), a description of the curriculum (its structure and coherence, required and recommended subjects offered by other programs, programs with which there is substantial overlap, a degree chart, roadmaps for completion (from varying points of entry), and answers to specific questions that pertain to each review committee’s area of responsibility. The form also explains the requirements concerning letters of support that must accompany the proposal.

The degree program approval process is iterative and somewhat fluid so that, with agreement among the reviewing committees, some discussions and considerations may move forward simultaneously. Proposals are not normally approved by SOCR, CUP, and CoC at the same meeting at which they are initially presented and discussed. Instead, the proposals may be discussed across several meetings both in the presence of the proposers and in committee. The committees may also refer specific elements of a proposal to other entities for consideration and feedback.

Each committee focuses on different aspects of the proposal. In completing this form, please note that some sections are required by all review committees and others by some smaller set.

  • SOCR is responsible for ensuring that each undergraduate degree program has appropriate communication-intensive subjects in the major (CI-M), as specified by the Institute’s undergraduate Communication Requirement.
  • The CUP’s review focuses primarily on administrative infrastructure, policy, and governance and oversight issues.
  • The CoC’s review focuses primarily on the curriculum, including the educational rationale, the sustainability and structure of the program, and its compliance with existing policy and rules.
  • The FPC’s review focuses on the process followed, any issues that are brought to its attention, and scheduling the item for consideration at a Faculty Meeting.

Proposals for a new degree type or for a new degree program that couples an undergraduate degree and a graduate degree follow a different review sequence. In these cases, the FPC and CUP review precedes CoC review. In the case of a combined undergraduate/graduate program, the Committee on Graduate Programs (CGP) must also indicate its approval.

The chart that follows illustrates the process and timeline for the review of new undergraduate degree programs.

Step Process Review Body Typical Timeline
1. Approval of program of communication-intensive subjects in the major (CI-Ms) Subcommittee on the Communication Requirement (SOCR) October / November
2. Approval of the administration and governance of the program, including advising Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP) Follows SOCR approval, normally in November / December.
3. Approval of the proposed curriculum Committee on Curricula (CoC) Follows CUP approval, normally in December / IAP.
4. Approval for presentation to the Faculty Faculty Policy Committee (FPC) Follows CoC approval.
5. Presentation and vote by the Faculty MIT Faculty Meets on the third Wednesday of the month during the academic year.1 Motions to establish new degree programs are presented and held over to the next month for a vote. Programs must have Faculty approval before May to be offered in the following academic year.2
6. Forwarded to the MIT Corporation for final approval MIT Corporation  

1 September through May, excluding January.
2 Approval requires a majority vote, with a minimum of 30 faculty members in attendance and voting.

Contact Information

E-mail:   new_degree@mit.edu
Phone:  (617) 253-1706
See /committees-and-councils for individual committee and staff contacts. 

Guidelines for Degree Charts

The first section of the degree chart must summarize the General Institute Requirements (GIRs). Any items in the departmental program that also fulfill a GIR must be expressly identified here. Below is a sample GIR section from Course 9.

General Institute Requirements (GIRs) Subjects
Science Requirement 6
Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Requirement [three subjects can be satisfied by 9.00 and two other HASS subjects in the Departmental Program. 8
Restricted Electives in Science and Technology (REST) Requirement [one subjects can be satisfied by 9.01 in the Departmental Program] 2
Laboratory Requirement [can be satisfied by a laboratory in the Departmental Program] 1
Total GIR Subjects Required for SB Degree 17
Communication Requirement  
The program includes a Communication Requirement of 4 subjects:  2 subjects designated as Communication Intensive in Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (CI-H); and 2 subjects designated as Communication Intensive in the Major (CI-M).  

Departmental requirements follow immediately after the GIR summary; they must be introduced by the following statement, formatted as shown:

PLUS Departmental Program
Subject names are followed by credit units and by prerequisites, if any (corequisites in italics).

This section of the degree chart must clearly identify the structure of the program and the options within it. If the program is divided into subsections, each subsection heading should be highlighted in bold and should show the units of coursework that must be completed for that subsection. Express units as a range where appropriate. Examples:

Required Subjects                          36
[List subjects after subheading]

Restricted Electives                   21-24
[List subjects after subheading]

In listing subjects on a degree chart for committee review, each subject must show a number, title, total units of credit, GIR at¬tribute (if applicable), and prerequisites and corequisites (if applicable). The following guidelines also apply:

  • List only one number for a joint subject.
  • Format corequisites in italics.
  • Use an asterisk to denote situations in which alternate prerequisites are available for a subject.
  • Use standard format rather than subject numbers to describe subjects in the Science Core that are prerequisites. Those formats are: Biology (GIR), Calculus I (GIR), Calculus II (GIR), Chemistry (GIR), Physics I (GIR), and Physics II (GIR). 
  • Identify a minimum of two CI-M subjects in the degree chart.

Sample subject entries:

Number Title
2.009 The Product Engineering Process, 12, CI-M; 2.001, 2.003J, 2.005; 2.670*; senior standing or permission of instructor
3.053J Molecular, Cellular, and Tissue Biomechanics, 12; 18.03*, Biology (GIR), 2.370*
4.605 Introduction to the Theory and History of Architecture, 12, HASS-A
5.12 Organic Chemistry I, 12, REST; Chemistry (GIR)
8.13 Experimental Physics I, 18, LAB, CI-M; 8.04
8.223 Classical Mechanics II, 6; Physics I (GIR), Calculus II (GIR)
18.03 Differential Equations, 12, REST; Calculus II (GIR)
18.062J Mathematics for Computer Science, 12, REST; Calculus I (GIR)
21H.931 Seminar in Historical Methods, 12, CI-M, HASS-H
24.900 Introduction to Linguistics, 12, HASS-S, CI-H

Choices between subjects may be designated in any of several ways. The most common are:

As a choice between subjects, for example:

12.110  Sedimentary Geology, 12; 12.001
or
12.119 Analytical Techniques for Studying Environmental and Geologic Samples, 12, LAB

As a choice from a list, for example:

Select one of the following:
3.016     Mathematical Methods for Materials Scientists and Engineers, 12; Calculus II (GIR)
18.03     Differential Equations, 12; Calculus II (GIR)
18.034   Differential Equations, 12; Calculus II (GIR)

As a statement with a list of numbers, for example:

To satisfy the requirement that students take two CI-M subjects, students must take 24.260 and one of the following: 24.120, 24,201, 24.221, 24.231, 24.251, or 24.263.

As a statement that identifies requirements by area, for example:

Three additional subjects as specified in one of the following concentrations: Finance, Information Technologies, Marketing Science, Operations Research.

At the end of the departmental requirements, the chart must indicate the units of credit that also satisfy the GIRs, which are subtracted from the total number of units in the program, and the units of credit for Unrestricted Electives (minimum of 48 required). Each program must then summarize the total units in the program, which should be expressed in a range if appropriate. The minimum number of “units beyond” is 180; the maximum allowed is 198.

Departmental Program units that also satisfy the GIRs                       (36)

Unrestricted Electives                                                                                              48

Total Units Beyond the GIRs Required for the SB Degree                183-198
No subject can be counted both as part of the 17-subject GIRs
and as part of the 183-198 units beyone the GIRs. Every subject
in the student's departmental program will count toward one
or the other, but not both.

If the asterisk is used to denote alternate prerequisites in the degree chart, the following must appear:

Notes
*Alternate prerequisites are listed in the subject description.

Other notes about the program may be inserted at the discretion of the department and/or the Committee on Curricula. 

Roadmaps: Sample Layout

Roadmaps may include up to 8.5 subjects per year. A maximum of 12 units of required coursework may be available only during IAP, but programs must provide contingencies to ensure that a student’s program is not disrupted by circumstances beyond his or her control.

Six-unit subjects are counted as half-subjects; subjects of 9 – 15 units are counted as one subject; 18-unit subjects count as 1.5 subjects; and subjects of 21 – 24 units count as 2 subjects. The roadmaps must show at least 48 units of unrestricted electives, 12 of which should fall in the freshman year. Program requirements must include 180 (minimum) to 198 (maximum) units beyond the GIRs. 

A sample layout for a typical roadmap can be found here; GIR subjects are highlighted in red. Roadmaps must be provided for first-term sophomores, second-term sophomores, and first-term juniors.

Subject Proposals - Coming Soon

Information on preparing undergraduate level subject proposals will be available by Fall 2017.

Graduate Proposals

New or Revised Graduate Degree Proposals

Proposing a New Graduate Degree Program to the MIT Faculty and its Standing Committees

Preparing and Submitting a Proposal

This overview provides general information and instructions for academic units interested in establishing a new graduate degree program. All proposals will be reviewed first by the Committee on Graduate Programs (CGP).

  1. Review the Guidelines for Approval of New or Revised Graduate Degree Programs.
  2. Complete the Proposal Form for a New Degree Program:
  1. After logging in with your MIT certificate, click the green "Propose New Program" button. 
  2. For guidance on completing the form, refer to the MIT Program Management Quick Start guide or contact Jessica Landry, staff to the CGP
  3. Preliminary proposal drafts are encouraged, particularly for proposals involving interdisciplinary and joint programs. 
  4. Draft proposals can be saved in the Program Management system and shared with faculty committee staff for consultation. 
  5. Proposals should not be submitted in final form until they have been vetted by the appropriate School and departmental curriculum committees. 
  6. The form explains the requirements concerning letters of support that must accompany the proposal.

Approval Process

  1. Once submitted, proposals are routed through a workflow in the proposal system that corresponds to the steps outlined in Section III of the Guidelines for Approval of New or Revised Graduate Degree Programs.
  2. Following review and approval by the CGP, the Faculty Policy Committee (FPC) will review new graduate degree proposals and determine if they are ready to be discussed at Academic Council and then presented and voted on at an Institute Faculty Meeting (a motion is presented at one meeting and voted on at the next).
  3. The degree program approval process can be iterative. Proposals are typically not approved by the CGP at the same meeting at which they are initially presented and discussed. Instead, the proposals may be discussed across several meetings, both in the presence of the proposers and in committee. The committee may also refer specific elements of a proposal to other entities for consideration and feedback.
  4. Following approval by both the CGP and the FPC, proposals will be presented at Academic Council.
  5. Proposals for a new degree program that will award a new type of master’s degree not currently offered at MIT will also require approval by the MIT Executive Committee and MIT Corporation.

The chart that follows illustrates the process and timeline for the review of new graduate degree programs.

Step Process Review Body Typical Timeline

1. 

Approval of the proposed structure, curriculum, administration, and governance of the program

Committee on Graduate Programs (CGP)

October / November

2.

Approval for presentation to the Faculty

Faculty Policy Committee (FPC)

Academic Council

Follows CGP approval, normally in December / February. Academic Council typically follows FPC approval.

3.

Presentation and vote by the Faculty

MIT Faculty

Meets on the third Wednesday of the month during the academic year.1 Motions to establish new degree programs are presented and held over to the next month for a vote. Programs must have Faculty approval2 by March to admit students during the following academic year.

4.

New degree types only: Forwarded to the MIT Executive Committee and Corporation for final approvals

MIT Executive Committee

MIT Corporation

The Executive Committee meets once a month during the academic year. The Corporation meets quarterly (September, December, March, June).

1 September through May, excluding January.
2 Approval requires a majority vote, with a minimum of 30 faculty members in attendance and voting.

Guidelines for Degree Charts

This section of the degree chart must clearly identify the structure of the program and the options within it. If the program is divided into subsections, each subsection heading should be clearly identified and should show the units of coursework that must be completed for that subsection. Express units as a range where appropriate. Examples:

Required Subjects                          36
[List subjects after subheading]

Restricted Electives                   21-24
[List subjects after subheading]

The following guidelines apply when listing subjects on a degree chart:

  • List only one number for a joint subject.
  • List subjects in numerical order wherever feasible.

Choices between subjects may be designated in any of several ways. The most common are:

  1. As a choice between subjects, for example:

4.021 Introduction to Architecture Design
or
4.02A Introduction to Architecture Design Intensive

  1. As a choice from a list, for example:

Select one of the following:
3.016     Mathematical Methods for Materials Scientists and Engineers
18.03     Differential Equations
18.034   Differential Equations

  1. As a statement with a list of numbers, for example:

To satisfy the requirement that students take two elective subjects, students must take 24.260 and one of the following: 24.120, 24,201, 24.221, 24.231, 24.251, or 24.263.

Proposing Major Revisions to an Existing Graduate Degree Program

Preparing and Submitting a Proposal

This overview provides general information and instructions for academic units interested in proposing major revisions to an existing graduate degree program. All proposals will be reviewed first by the Committee on Graduate Programs (CGP).

Locate the degree program in the list of all programs:

  1. After logging in with your MIT certificate, click the green "Edit" button.
  2. For guidance on completing the form, refer to the MIT Program Management Quick Start guide, or contact Jessica Landry, staff to the CGP.
  3. Draft revisions can be saved in the Program Management system and shared with faculty committee staff for consultation. 
  4. Proposals for major revisions should not be submitted in final form until they have been vetted by the appropriate School and departmental curriculum committees. 
  5. The form explains the requirements concerning letters of support that must accompany the proposal.

Approval Process

  1. Once submitted, proposals are routed through a workflow in the proposal system that corresponds to the steps outlined in Section III of the Guidelines for Approval of New or Revised Graduate Degree Programs.
  2. The Chair of the CGP, in consultation with the Chair of the FPC, will determine whether the revision is sufficiently substantial to warrant review beyond the CGP. 
  3. The approval process can be iterative. Proposals are typically not approved by the CGP at the same meeting at which they are initially presented and discussed. Instead, the proposals may be discussed across several meetings, both in the presence of the proposers and in committee. The committee may also refer specific elements of a proposal to other entities for consideration and feedback.

Subject Proposals - Coming Soon

Information on preparing graduate level subject proposals will be available by Fall 2017.