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Process Overview

New Program Approval Process: CPE and SACSCOC Requirements


New Programs, in some cases, whether associate, baccalaureate, or graduate, require approval by CPE and SACSCOC. For questions, please call 270-745-8985.

A. CPE Approval:

The Council on Postsecondary Education has statutory authority to approve new academic programs at state colleges and universities. KRS 164.020 (15) empowers the Council to define and approve the offering of all postsecondary education technical, associate, baccalaureate, graduate, and professional degree, certificate, or diploma programs in the public postsecondary education institutions.

The following steps will walk you through the process of developing and approving a new program.

1. Process overview with Provost office (provost@wku.edu or 745-8985), if desired.

2. New program proposal is developed and approved by the faculty in the academic unit.

A. CPE approval is required for all new major programs at the undergraduate and graduate level (note that certificates do not require CPE approval or use of their form. See note on certificates below). CPE Program Approval Policy and Procedures (effective 7/1/17).

B. Programs at the sub-associate degree level (i.e. consisting entirely of lower division courses) require KCTCS BOR approval before CPE posting.

C. Programs with an on-line delivery should notify the provost's office.

It is important at this stage to ensure adequate resources are available to support the program (library, faculty, etc.), and the need/demand is justified.

3. Department or school.

4. CPE Notification of Intent / Program Summary – Route through the college dean’s office, and then to AA. The KY CCAOs (Council of Chief Academic Officers) will review and identify any issues or questions. Once questions are resolved (typically within one month), the NOI is approved. This allows for inter-institutional discussion of a proposed program, before the public posting in the CPE database. 

5. College Curriculum Committee. If program leads to initial or advanced teacher certification, it should also be approved by the Professional Education Council (PEC).

6. CPE Pre-Proposal, consisting of narrative, curriculum, and budget sections, is posted by the provost's office for 30-day review by KY public institutions of higher education. The pre-proposal must be posted within six months after Notification of Intent approval by the CPE.  A user guide is available here: user guide. An example is available here: example.

NOTE: Comment(s) from other institutions that require a response are forwarded to the academic program, and coordinated through the provost's office.

7. Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (UCC) or Graduate Council.

8. University Senate.

9. Provost.

10. WKU Board of Regents (materials due 6 weeks before full-board meeting, as the Academic Affairs committee must review first).

11. CPE Full-Proposal posted by the provost's office posted at least 6 months after approval of the pre-proposal by the CPE. A user guide for this is available here. An example is available here. The information is due 6 weeks before the CPE board meeting.  Once approved by the CPE board, we have 5 years to implement.  Failure to implement within five years means we have to restart the approval process.

Additional Possible Step: If the program leads to initial or advanced teacher certification the proposal is approved by the KY Education Professional Standards board (EPSB). The proposal goes to EPSB after the PEC and before CPE.


B.  SACSCOC (program significantly different from current offerings: SACSCOC requirements for substantive changes).

1) Letter of Notification (anytime).

2) Prospectus (due to SACSCOC either January 1 for 7/1-12/31 implementation or July 1 for 1/1-6/30 implementation).

A chart of all approval processes is available here: Program Flow. A timeline of all processes is available here: Time-Line for New Program Development.

C.  Useful Information

CIP code program designation is determined by the faculty in consultation with the provost's office. The faculty can search available codes (six-digits required) here.

The criteria reviewed at the CPE level are outlined below:

  • consistency with the institution’s mission and the strategic agenda;
  • alignment with the priorities in the statewide strategic implementation plan for achieving the strategic agenda;
  • program demand and unnecessary duplication within and among institutions;
  • cost and funding of the proposed program, with narrative explanation;
  • program review and assessment; and
  • efforts to create cooperative programs with other institutions through traditional means, or by use of distance learning technology and electronic resources, to achieve effective and efficient program delivery.

Institutional Mission and Strategic Plan

CPE Statewide Plan and Metrics

Data to support need for the program references:

Cost and Funding section: Are sufficient resources available to support the program? Do the projected tuition revenues cover the cost of the program; if not, how will the excess be funded? Are new faculty needed, if not, then why not? Develop information in an excel spreadsheet, and once confirmed with Department Head, Dean, and Provost office the information will be added to CPE pre-proposal format. Explain each entry in the narrative/justification box provided. Once you finalized with your Dean's office sent to Ladonna Hunton.

Program Review and Assessment: To review the statewide requirements from Program Review click here. (APR Self-Study Template and CPE Program Review Users Guide). Doug McElroy can provide guidance on the assessment section of the proposal.

Questions on proposed programs during CPE 45-day review:

  • Describe the types of jobs available for graduates, average wages for these jobs, and the number of anticipated openings for each job in the institution’s area of geographic responsibility and in the state. Such evidence may include employer surveys, current labor market analyses, and future human resources projections. Where appropriate, evidence should demonstrate employers’ preferences for graduates of the proposed program over persons having alternative existing credentials and employers’ willingness to pay higher salaries to graduates of the proposed program.
  • Clearly describe all evidence of student demand, typically in the form of surveys of potential students and/or enrollments in related programs at the institution. Anecdotal evidence is not sufficient. The institution must demonstrate that it has systematically gathered data, studied the data, and can reasonable estimate student demand for the program.
  • Explain collaborative arrangements with other public KY institutions with similar program(s).
  • Identify both the direct and indirect methods by which the intended student learning outcomes will be assessed.  Please note that the assessment is at the program-level, not course-level.


Certificates are a series of courses related to a specific topic or skill, with a primary purpose of providing marketable, entry-level skills. If the certificate prepares students for employment in a recognized occupation (ties to a CIP code), and is at least a certain number of credit hours (8 credit hours at Graduate level, and 16 at undergraduate), Title IV funding is available. Justification must be provided in the form of “Intent to Offer” information required for Title IV funding.

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 Last Modified 11/22/19