Process of Approval of New Degree Programs

Summary of Policy

The policy outlines the approval process for new degree programs within the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies.

Policy Statement

Process and Guidelines for New Graduate Program Approval

Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies at Dartmouth

May 2018


  1. In consultation with Department Chairs, School Deans, and Dean of the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies, faculty members will develop a comprehensive proposal for the new program.
  2. The proposed new program should be presented to, in order, the Dean of the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies, School Deans (and, at their discretion, faculties), the Council on Graduate Studies (CGS), and the Provost's Academic Planning Council (APC) for review and commentary, and revised as necessary (in consultation with those groups). The purpose of this step is to solicit feedback on the new program, and to have new programs thoroughly vetted during the approval process. Note: APC and CGS meet once a term (summers excluded).
  3. School Deans will approve the proposal on behalf of their faculties by whatever mechanism the Deans choose. Particular attention should be given to issues involving space, resources, additional courses, and faculty time (teaching, mentoring, etc.). Letters of support will be obtained from the School Deans at this stage.
  4. The proposal, along with letters of support, is sent to the Dean of the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies, who will bring it before the CGS for approval. Note: the earliest this should be is the term following the initial presentation in #2, although the proposal can be circulated in advance for feedback and modification. CGS should review the entire proposal and should vote to approve, deny, or send back the proposal based on criteria including: justification, impact, curriculum and degree requirements, governance structure, and relationship with existing programs. If approved, any budgetary recommendations or concerns should be forwarded, along with the proposal, to the APC.
  5. APC will review the Proposal, focusing in particular on the overall impact of the program and the budgetary aspects. After confirming the viability of the finances and resources available to the new program, APC will vote to recommend approval, denial, or revision to the Provost.
  6. The Provost will bring the final proposal to the Academic Excellence Committee of the Trustees for approval.
  7. The Academic Excellence Committee of the Trustees will bring the final proposal to the full board for approval.


Proposals for New Graduate Programs should contain the information and follow the outline given below. Each category should have a paragraph of explanation.

i. Executive Summary

  1. Table of Contents
  2. Introduction
    1. Definition of field
    2. Short history of field
    3. National need for program – include job pool for graduates
    4. Dartmouth's opportunity for national leadership in field
  3. Proposed Program
    1. Admissions requirements and number of students – include size and quality of applicant pool and plan for recruiting students
    2. Curriculum – include examples of student enrollment patterns
    3. Degree requirements
    4. Teaching faculty
    5. Research faculty
    6. Description of research areas – include participating faculty and research interests
    7. Comparison to programs at other universities
  4. Administration
    1. Steering or advisory Committee
    2. Visiting Committee and their role
  5. Resources – include annual detailed budget
    1. Programs grants
    2. Research grants (indicating level of graduate student support available)
    3. Dartmouth resources for program
    4. Facilities
    5. Library
  6. Outside Reviews
    1. External Advisory Group
  7. Relationship to Other Dartmouth programs
    1. Undergraduate
    2. Other graduate programs
    3. Professional school programs

Proposals for New Graduate Programs

It is impossible to specify a single set of criteria by which any proposal for a new graduate program should be measured. The intellectual, physical and financial resources necessary for quality will vary widely depending on the nature of the program. However, one can delineate a number of broad issued that should be addressed in any proposal in order to allow those considering it to determine the educational value of the program, the contributions it would make to the intellectual environment of the College, and the resources that would be required for excellence. There should be sufficient information in a proposal to allow the priority of the new program to be established relative to other existing and proposed activities.

First of all, careful attention should be given to the definition of the field of inquiry in which graduate study is proposed. Even for interdisciplinary programs there must be a coherent intellectual foundation upon which the research and curricular components of the proposed program are based. The case must be made that a graduate program in this field at Dartmouth is consistent with, and enhances, the mission of the College, and that the program will contribute to the satisfaction of a national and, where appropriate, international need in the area under consideration. For example, if possible, the size and quality of the prospective applicant pool should be assessed, the plan for recruiting students should be detailed, and job pool into which they would graduate should be described.

Furthermore, it must be shown that Dartmouth has an opportunity to build a program of true excellence, as determined by criteria discussed elsewhere in this report. The faculty base upon which the proposed program will be built must be described, and the strengths that each individual faculty member brings to it should be indicated. Also, the facilities and equipment that will be needed to support the program should be detailed. If such facilities and equipment are not presently available at Dartmouth, the means by which they will be procured should be specified. In particular, if special facilities, such as laboratories or studios, already exist at Dartmouth that will contribute to the quality of the program, they should be described. The plan for organizing resources within the College, as well as attracting new resources to the College, must clearly indicate that Dartmouth can attain a leadership position in the field of inquiry of the program within a reasonable time-frame.

A proposal should contain a detailed description of the academic and administrative structure of the program. This should cover admission requirements, curriculum, and degree requirements, and it should include a description of an internal committee structure for dealing with such approval. If the proposed program is not associated with a single department, then an appropriate steering committee should be designed to deal with administrative matters. Furthermore, if outside review or visiting committees are to be used in student and/or program evaluation, their makeup and function should be described. The discussion of curriculum should indicate which courses are already being taught and which must be added because of the proposed program.

The relationship the proposed program will have to other programs at Dartmouth – undergraduate, graduate and professional – should be addressed. For example, if the proposed program will enhance or increase educational opportunities for students in other areas of the College, those areas should be identified and the means of access to the proposed program should be described. Also, if the new program could be enhanced by informal relationships with other areas of the College, the nature of such relationships should be indicated.

All proposals should include a detailed budget indicating the expenses associated with the new program and the revenue sources that will be used to cover them. When appropriate, the funding history of the current faculty members who will be associated with the program should be given and the opportunities for increased external funding assessed. In particular, the means by which graduate students will be supported should be described.

Presentations to CGS, APC, and the Trustees should address the following matters:

  • The justification for the program: why it is needed; the kinds of students it hopes to attract; faculty interest; the program's place in the context of the overall academic offerings; the competition from programs at other schools; and how this program will be positioned nationally.
  • A description of the program: degree requirements, course offerings, time required to complete the degree. New and existing courses should be clearly delineated.
  • Measurements for success: how will we know that this program has achieved its aims? When and how will it be reviewed? What would be the grounds for discontinuing it?
  • Any additional resources needed for the program, and their source.
  • The relationship of this program to the undergraduate program, if any, and any likely impact on Dartmouth's academic community.
  • Current or future facility needs for the program.


Effective Date

May 19, 2018

Last Revised Date

August 18, 2021

Office of Primary Responsibility