October 2016

Prepared by the Senate Committee on Curricular Affairs Based on Senate Legislation and Actions by SCCA through April 30, 2016.


The Senate Committee on Curricular Affairs (SCCA) is responsible for reviewing and approving all course proposals and major/option/minor proposals.

Duties of the SCCA as outlined in the 2016-2017 Constitution, Bylaws, and Standing Rules of the University Faculty Senate, are as follows:

The Committee on Curricular Affairs shall review, evaluate, and approve or reject, all course and curriculum proposals including proposals to limit program enrollment submitted by the various departments, colleges, and other appropriate units of the University that have not received delegation of responsibility in this area from the University Faculty Senate. With regard to program enrollment limitations, restrictions proposed for academic reasons are subject to approval or rejection while restrictions proposed for resource restraints are for information of the Senate before enactment. It shall study the existing courses and curricula of the University with reference to the needs of students and opportunities for service to the Commonwealth and make recommendations for changes where appropriate. It shall develop criteria for evaluating courses and curricula and recommend procedures for handling courses and curriculum proposals. It shall have oversight of the University General Education Subcommittee, the University Writing Subcommittee, the University Retention and Transfer Subcommittee, the University Subcommittee on United States Cultures and International Cultures in the Curriculum, the University Integrative Studies Subcommittee, and the University Bachelor of Arts Requirements Subcommittee. It shall maintain such liaison with University administration and faculty as necessary for the implementation of these procedures.

The procedures developed by the SCCA to implement new curricula, proposed as the result of the restructuring of the University, are based on the committee’s understanding of some fundamental tenets developed from comments by President Spanier, memoranda by Provost Brighton (October 11, 1996), Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education Chair (March 24, 1997), and Vice Provost Secor (January 28, 1997). These include:

  1. There is one faculty at Penn State and the titles of individual faculty members are based on the disciplines in which they specialize or the departments or schools in which they hold positions.
  2. All faculty members, regardless of their location or academic home, will be considered a part of the University faculty in their discipline. In the context of the curriculum this implies that the discipline faculty in the different colleges are expected to work together collegially in the development of new and revised academic programs and courses. Efforts on the part of the faculty in this regard must be supported by the academic leadership.
  3. In the design of the curriculum every effort should be made to make it consistent among the campuses allowing students, where practical, to move readily among Penn State locations without undue loss of credits.
  4. A common University course numbering system will be followed.
  5. A course, taught in different colleges under the same name and number, has the same objectives, follows the same broad outline, and aims at the same learning outcomes. This need not mean, however, that the detailed course outlines would be identical. In fact it would be expected that they would reflect the views of the individual instructors.
  6. If an academic program is offered in several colleges, the academic requirements for the completion of the program are not expected to be identical but should be comparable in all colleges. The differences in programs with the same name can reflect different areas of emphasis or specialization. These differences will be clearly evident in the Bulletin.

back to top

Outline of the Curriculum Process

All curricular proposals originate with the faculty and pass through the following stages of academic approval: approval by the department, division, or school; the college; and the Senate. In addition to academic approval for majors/options/minors, administrative approval is required for new proposals, change in name proposals, and drop proposals. Administrative approval consists of costing, approval by the Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education, Executive Vice President and Provost, and review, as an informational item, by the Board of Trustees.

The flow of curricular proposals is illustrated in Fig.1, which follows this section. The length of time necessary for a proposal to be approved depends on time taken by the departmental, college, senate, and central administrative processes. Proposals which are complete in all respects and reach the Senate Office by the published Curricular Deadlines will be acted upon by the Senate Committee on Curricular Affairs during the regular academic year.

A course proposal or major/option/minor proposal is initiated by the faculty within an offering unit utilizing the Course Review and Consultation System ( The initial data are assembled by a faculty member in consultation with other faculty within the unit. Faculty outside the unit must be consulted when program or course content overlaps with existing programs or when the program or course is, or will be, offered also by other academic units.

If the curriculum proposal is complex (i.e. it involves several additions, changes, drops of courses and/or requirements, etc.) it will be very helpful to the reviewing committees, if the proposal is organized in a logical manner and is introduced by a summary outlining the major academic objectives of the proposal and how they are to be achieved.

The head of an offering unit or a designated faculty member in the unit prepares the appropriate SCCA forms for department, college, and Senate action, in accord with both college and Senate curricular procedures and requirements.

Curricular terminology used throughout the document is explained in the Glossary. This appendix also contains terminology introduced by the Senate Legislation on General Education of December 2, 1997, and defined by the General Education Implementation Committee in the summer of 1998.

After approval by the offering unit, the appropriate SCCA proposal forms are reviewed and approved by the college curricular affairs committee, reviewed and approved by the college SCCA representative, approved by the dean of the college, and forwarded to the Senate Office. While internal procedures may vary from college to college, SCCA recommends that all colleges establish a curricular affairs committee or its equivalent to review course and major/option/minor proposals. The college committee should evaluate proposals both academically and in relation to Senate requirements outlined in this Guide to Curricular Procedures.

The college committee may approve, deny, or ask for revisions in the proposal. It may also require additional consultation outside the offering unit.

The college representative to SCCA, who should also be a member of the college curricular affairs committee or its equivalent, must review and approve all final proposals before forwarding them to the dean of the college. Administrative approval is indicated by the dean’s acceptance on the proposal. Following approval by the dean, proposals are forwarded to the University Curriculum Coordinator at the Senate Office.

The University Curriculum Coordinator checks the proposal for compliance with the curricular procedures outlined in the following pages. Proposals that do not comply will be returned to the appropriate offering unit, thus causing a delay in processing the proposal. Those proposals in the proper form are listed in the Senate Curriculum Report and distributed for information to the faculty at-large.

The Senate Curriculum Report is published seven times a year. The deadlines for submitting materials to the Senate Office for inclusion in the report can be found in the front section of each issue or on the web under Curricular Deadlines .

SCCA meets regularly, six times per academic year from August to April. SCCA may deny, hold, or refer a proposal back to the offering unit for additional information before granting approval. In all cases including approval, the college administrator will be informed of the committee action via Curriculum Review and Submission System (

Procedures for proposals originating in interdepartmental or intercollege programs, or other similar academic units, may differ in detail within the unit but should substantially follow the actions listed above. The appropriate administrator within the unit must sign the proposals.

back to top

Back to Guide to Curricular Procedures Page