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Proposing New Programs, Degrees, and Specializations

This is a brief overview of the basic processes for review and approval of new program and specialization proposals or significant revisions of an existing program.

Proposing Programs and Degrees

This is a brief overview of the basic processes for review and approval of new graduate degree program proposals or significant revisions of an existing program.

This overview is drawn from the guidelines (PDF) of the Chancellor’s Council on Graduate Studies (CCGS). For more detailed information, contact the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of the Graduate School at 614‑292‑9490.

In Ohio, any institution of higher education desiring to introduce a new degree, a new degree program, or a significant revision of an existing program, must have the degree or program evaluated through a peer-review process.

At Ohio State, the proposed degree, program, or revision must first be developed and vetted through the local graduate program, college, and Graduate School. Proposals approved by the Graduate Council move forward to the Council on Academic Affairs, University Senate, and the Board of Trustees.

At the state level, the peer-review process involves the submission of a Program Proposal by the Graduate School to the Chancellor’s Council on Graduate Studies (CCGS), which includes representatives from all Ohio public universities, as well as representative private institutions. Proposals that will go forward from Ohio State to CCGS are developed into a full proposal according to CCGS guidelines.

CCGS reviews submitted Full Proposals, which are circulated statewide for comment from campus experts in the program area. The CCGS member institutions will provide a response within six weeks of receipt of the proposal. The purpose of the review is to provide the proposing institution with an initial evaluation of the Full Proposal and to highlight inital areas of concern that should be addressed in a response with revisions.

The transmittal of any subsequent Full Proposal to the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) is the formal application for degree authority and culminates in a formal presentation of the proposal to a meeting of the Council at the ODHE headquarters.

Proposing Graduate Minors and Interdisciplinary Specializations

A GIS involves two or more graduate programs outside the student's home program. A graduate minor consists of coursework from a single graduate program and is available only to graduate students not enrolled in the graduate program offering the minor.

Graduate studies committees, in conjunction with graduate faculty of the graduate program(s) involved, are responsible for developing and transmitting proposals for GISs and graduate minors.


GIS and graduate minor proposals should contain the following:

  • Title of the proposed GIS or graduate minor, rationale for its development, a brief description of its purpose, including anticipated benefits for participants
  • Description of the proposed curriculum.


GIS: Provide a master list of required and/or elective courses. At least 10 but not more than 20 hours of graduate-level coursework are required. These hours must include at least three different courses. At least 9 hours must be from outside the home graduate program but may include cross-listed courses. Cross-listed courses that comprise this 9 hours minimum must be enrolled in outside the home department

Graduate Minor: Provide a master list of required and/or elective courses. At least 10 but no more than 20 hours of graduate-level coursework are required. These hours must include at least three different courses.

  • Administrative arrangements and support for the proposed GIS or graduate minor.
  • Plans to enroll students and prospective enrollment, including a statement of the maximum number of students to be enrolled at any one time
  • Letter(s) of support from the participating deans

Approval Process

  1. Graduate studies committees must seek approval of the proposal through necessary local graduate program, department, school and/or college process(es)
  2. Graduate studies committees then submit the approved proposal and letter of transmittal to the Graduate School for review and action. The letter must be signed by all involved graduate studies committee chairs.
  3. The curriculum committee of the Graduate School's Graduate Council reviews the proposal and makes a recommendation for action to the full Graduate Council.
  4. The Graduate Council acts on the proposal. If approved, the Graduate School notifies the Office on Academic Affairs (OAA) of its approval, which is subject to further review by the Council on Academic Affairs (CAA). Upon completion of its review, OAA will inform the University Registrar of the approved GIS so that it will appear on students' transcripts.

Proposing Specializations and Transcript Designations


A graduate specialization represents a significant, widely recognized division of an overall field of study that is broader than an individual faculty member's area of interest or an individual student's thesis or dissertation topic. Ohio State-approved specializations are recognized with a transcript designation on the Ohio State transcript.


An area of graduate specialization must be within the student's graduate program; specializations that lie outside the student's program are designated as graduate minors.

A student enrolled in a graduate program with approved areas of graduate specialization may choose whether to list such a specialization or not. Students who decide to do so, must get the approval of their advisor and graduate studies committee.

The specialization must be selected from a list of specializations already approved for the degree program. At the request of the student and the graduate studies committee, specializations are posted on the Ohio State permanent record in addition to the name of the graduate degree program.

Procedures for proposing graduate specializations

  • The proposed area or areas of graduate specialization must be consistent with the definition above.
  • The proposed area or areas of graduate specialization must have the approval of the local graduate studies committee, which sends a request for formal recognition to the dean of the Graduate School.
  • The proposal must list clusters of graduate courses that are a part of the area of graduate specialization.
  • In instances when a program proposes a graduate specialization involving core subject matter from another discipline, the proposal must be accompanied by a letter of concurrence from the other program.
  • The dean of the Graduate School will refer the request to the curriculum committee of the graduate council.
  • If the curriculum committee is satisfied that the proposed area of graduate specialization meets the criteria above, it will notify the graduate studies committee that the area of specialization is approved.
  • Approved areas of graduate specialization may be announced to graduate students enrolled in the graduate program.

Proposing Graduate Certificates

Certificate programs help students to develop new skills and build expertise in a specialized content area. Certificates can be helpful to update a professional profile, advance a career, or broaden one’s knowledge base.

A graduate certificate is one of several types of certificate programs offered at Ohio State. Others include undergraduate certificates, post-undergraduate certificates, and non-academic certificates such as certificates of completion. The distinguishing feature of graduate certificates is that they are awarded to graduate students based on successful completion of graduate curriculum. The graduate certificate is more limited in scope than a master’s degree, has fewer credit hours, and takes less time to complete.

While graduate certificates often supplement previous advanced degrees by furthering professional preparation, for some students they may serve as an entry point to advanced graduate study.

Distinguishing Features

Graduate certificate programs are free standing; students may be directly admitted into a certificate program and need not be simultaneously enrolled in a master’s or doctoral program. Graduate certificate programs may be delivered in face-to-face, hybrid, or online modes. Students may pursue a certificate and a master’s or doctoral program simultaneously. Graduate certificate programs must be a minimum of 12 credit hours and should be at least four courses. Programs are administered by a graduate studies chair and committee that are responsible for admission decisions. Admitted students must meet the minimum admission requirements of the Graduate School.

Approval Process

Update: On September 5, 2018, the Council on Academic Affairs endorsed a revised template for Certificate development and approval. All academic units proposing new certificates should adhere to this template. If you have questions, please contact the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the Graduate School at 614‑292‑9490.

template for Certificate development and approval

Proposals to develop new graduate certificates originate within their college or home unit. Proposals must first be approved through the usual curricular approval process within their college and should be accompanied by a letter of support from the college dean or curricular associate dean. Proposals must be submitted through the university’s program and course tracking system ( Proposals will be routed automatically to the Graduate School following college approval. Graduate certificate proposals will be reviewed by the Graduate School and the Council on Academic Affairs, which is the final approval step. If the graduate certificate exceeds 20 credit hours, additional approval steps are required by the Ohio Department of Higher Education.

A proposal should include:

  • Brief description of the disciplinary purpose, significance, and rationale

  • Description of the proposed curriculum

  • Administrative arrangement for the proposed program

  • Evidence of need, including opportunities for employment if applicable

  • Prospective enrollment

  • Special efforts to enroll and retain underrepresented groups in the discipline

  • Student advising sheet

  • Concurrence from other units (if needed)

Time to completion

The Graduate School does not have a maximum time to completion for a graduate certificate program. The certificate length of time requirement is best determined by the proposing program since disciplinary knowledge progresses or becomes outdated at varying rates. Graduate programs often require six years to complete a master’s degree. A recommendation of four years for a certificate program might be reasonable.

Transfer of graduate credit

The Graduate School requires that at least half the credits of graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees be unique to the respective certificate or degree. Certificate programs may decide how many credits can transfer into a master’s or doctoral program, up to the 50% limit. If a graduate non-degree student is admitted to a graduate certificate program, no more than four hours of semester graduate credit accumulated while in this non-degree classification may be counted toward the certificate. The time to transfer credit to a graduate program is best determined by the graduate program.

Good standing

Graduate students must be in good standing. Students enrolled in certificate programs with three or more credit hours and a GPA below 3.0 are not in good standing and will receive a poor performance letter.

Conditional admission

Since certificate applicants are being admitted into the Graduate School, minimum admission standards apply. Hence, students with a GPA below 3.0 would require additional review prior to admission.

Graduate Associate/Fellowship eligibility

These are privileges reserved for students pursuing advanced degrees. Students who are enrolled solely in a graduate certificate program are not eligible.

Proposing New International Dual Degrees

See the Office of International Affairs