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Graduate Course Proposal Submission

All graduate course proposals must be initiated in the Curriculum Review and Consultation System (CRCS), and all consultation on each course proposal must be obtained via CRCS. No hardcopy submission of graduate course proposals is required at any point in the Graduate Council curricular review process.

After a new course proposal has been approved through level 7 (review on behalf of the Dean of the Graduate School), it will be included on the next meeting agenda of the Graduate Council Joint Curricular Committee. After each Joint Curricular Committee meeting, feedback from the Committee is entered directly into the course proposal in CRCS and the proposal is returned to the proposer via CRCS for further action. The proposer’s response via CRCS is required.

Some course change proposals and all course drop proposals undergo expedited review on behalf of the Joint Curricular Committee. The timing of this review is not dependent upon the monthly meeting dates of the Joint Curricular Committee. However, if there are any issues or concerns about these proposals, they may be forwarded to the co-chairs or the Joint Curricular Committee for full review.

After approval by the Graduate Council Joint Curricular Committee, course proposals are published in the Graduate Council Curriculum Report; a 30-day comment period follows publication. New courses are effective the semester following the expiration of the comment period. The timing of when course changes can be effective is determined by the Registrar’s office based on the timetable for scheduling courses.

Sample Course Proposal

A sample course proposal is below, with guidelines for filling out each section. As a general rule, avoid excessive use of discipline-specific jargon, as the Joint Curricular Committee comprises faculty from disciplines across the University. Course proposals need to be clear and comprehensible to a general audience.

Create Proposal

Degree Level: GRADUATE
Proposal Type: COURSE
Action:   ADD ___CHANGE ___DROP
College/Academic Unit With Curricular Responsibility: THE LIBERAL ARTS

Principal Faculty Member Proposing Course: JOHN DOE
This individual must be a member of the Graduate Faculty.

Course Designation

Abbreviation: ENGL
Faculty are encouraged to use disciplinary course abbreviations already in existence. Course abbreviations should not be campus/college specific. A new course abbreviation should not be created for one or two courses within a minor.

Number: 571
Note the difference between 500- and 800-level courses. Graduate courses at the 500-level foreground research in the frontiers of knowledge in a field of study, while those at the 800-level foreground the application of theory and research to professional practice in a field of study.

In the Justification of Course Number section, explain how the course fulfills the requirements of a 500- or 800-level course, based on specific reference to the  definitions of 500-level and 800-level courses outlined in GCAC-204 Graduate Council Graduate Course Definitions.

In most cases, proposals for common course numbers (590, 594, 595, 596, 597, 598, 599, 600, 601, 602, 603, 610, 611, 890, 894, 895, 896, 897, 898, 899) only need to provide the Course Designation, Course Information, and Long Course Description. The course title and the abbreviated title should both be the title of the common course, the minimum and maximum credits should match the credits listed here, and the course should be repeatable. The Short Description and the Long Course Description should be copied from the Common Course Numbers descriptions. Enter "N/A" in the other sections.

However, any course proposal for a capstone course that will be used as the culminating experience for the degree (including 894 Capstone Experience) must have responses for all fields so the Joint Curricular Committee can review and evaluate it appropriately.

Title: Writer in the Community
There is no character limit in this field. In naming graduate-level courses, avoid using the term “Introduction,” which is not appropriate for graduate-level work, and the term “Advanced,” as graduate-level courses, by definition, are advanced. “Foundations in [Topic]” would be appropriate for the first course in a sequence. To indicate a foundational course and a course that follows on the same topic, titles such as “[Topic] I” and “[Topic] II” would be appropriate.

Course Information

Cross Listed Courses: Each program must use the same course number for the cross-listed course. It is not necessary for all cross-listing programs to submit individual proposals in order to cross-list a new course; only one course proposal is required. Keep in mind that each program that agrees to cross-list a course is accepting equal and full responsibility for “owning” that course and offering it on a regular basis.

Prerequisites: Only existing Penn State course abbreviations and numbers of courses at the 400-level or higher may be listed as prerequisites for graduate courses. Be specific in listing courses and numbers; use the book icon to insert the courses and the grouping connector (puzzle piece icon) to connect them. Do not include text fields such as “Permission of the instructor” or “Graduate standing”; these can be added after the course is approved by using course controls.

Corequisites: Corequisite courses are pairs of courses required to be taken together in the same semester. This is more common for undergraduate courses and is not usually used for graduate courses.

Concurrents: Concurrent courses are similar to prerequisites except that they may be taken either prior to or in the same semester as the course.

Recommended Preparations: List here any knowledge or preparation a student will need to be successful in this course that is not a formal prerequisite. Specific courses below the 400 level should not be included here, but general preparation at the undergraduate level can be included.

Abbreviated title: Writer in Community
This field is restricted to 30 characters or less. The short title will appear on the transcript and, thus, should be as informative as possible. Do not simply use a few letters from each word in the full title if this results in an indecipherable string of letters.

Course Delivery: Indicate whether the course will be delivered in residence, off-site, or online. More than one option can be selected.

Credits: Min:  3   Max:   3
A MIN and MAX with differing values signifies a variable credit course (e.g., SUBJECT 596); this is NOT the same as a course that is fixed credit (e.g., MIN: 3 and MAX: 3) but may be taken more than once by the student. A course that may be taken more than once by a student should be designated below as “Repeatable: Yes.”

If the course is intended to be a variable credit course, in the Brief Outline, explain why the course is proposed with variable credits. The Major Topics and Evaluation Methods sections must also include sections for each possible credit variation.

Repeatable: No
This designates if a student can take the class more than once for credit. Most courses are “No.” If the course is repeatable, a field for “Total Maximum Credits” will display, signifying the total number of credits a student can earn by repeating the course. If the course is repeatable, specify in the proposal how the program will ensure students who repeat the course do not get the same content.

Effective Semester/Year: After new courses are approved through the Graduate Council curricular review process, they are published in the Graduate Council Curriculum Report. There is a 30-day comment period following publication. New courses are effective the first semester following the expiration of the 30-day comment period. Choose "Upon Approval" unless a later effective date is desired. The timing of when course changes can be effective is determined by the Registrar’s office based on the timetable for scheduling courses.

Travel Component: This refers to whether or not a students is required to travel off-site as a requirement of the class. If "yes" is chosen, describe the travel requirement in the Travel Component Description text box that appears.

Course Outline

A brief outline or overview of the course content

Describe in prose (1-2 paragraphs) the central content of the course:

  • State the central course content.
  • Situate the course content within the field/discipline.
  • Briefly describe the major topics to be covered.

Do not outline course specifics including the syllabus and assigned readings here. The course proposal is meant to focus on the most common and durable aspects of a course which do not depend on who is teaching it, and those details are likely to change depending on the instructor.

A listing of the major topics to be covered with an approximate length of time allotted for their discussion

  • Bullet the major topics covered with sub-topics underneath each.
  • Note number of hours spent on each major topic (e.g., 2 hours). Ensure the hours add up to the required amount of 15 hours of class time per credit earned. A 1-credit course must total 15 hours of class time, a 2-credit course must total 30 hours, a 3-credit course must total 45 hours, etc.
  • Do not include course readings or specifics, only major topics and relevant subtopics.
  • Include time allotted for exams, if applicable. Note that end-of-semester exams worth more than ten percent of the course grade must be held during the final examination period, not during the 15 weeks of instruction.

Course Description

A succinct stand-alone course description (up to 400 words) made available to students through the online Course Catalog. This description is in essence an advertisement for potential students informing them of what the course is about, what they will learn, and what they may be expected to do.

This single description must encompass all course sections at all locations over a period of time and therefore must focus on the common and durable aspects of the course. Information that is specific only to a particular instructor, such as evaluation methods and course assignments, should not be included. If the course is offered in multiple relatively stable formats, each may be described. The description should not include specific course abbreviations and numbers, as these are subject to change.

The Course Description should be consistent with the Brief Course Outline, but it should provide more detail. The essential distinction between the two is that the Brief Outline is aimed at faculty reviewers from a wide range of disciplines, where the Course Description is aimed at students and serves as the public advertisement for the course.

The following prose may be helpful:

  • This course provides a broad exploration of XXX (course content).
  • In particular, it investigates XX (major topics).
  • It considers XX and builds an awareness of XX, especially in relation to XX (sub-topics).
  • Building on these insights, students will conduct XX and apply XX to XX (learning outcomes).
  • Students will recognize, identify, and apply XX to XX (learning outcomes).

The name(s) of the faculty member(s) responsible for the development of the course.

All faculty members listed here must be members of the Graduate Faculty.

Course Justification

Instructional, educational, and course objectives

This section should define what the student is expected to learn and what skills the student will develop. State the instructional objectives of the course that form the basis for making inferences about student learning. The objectives must be measurable; refer to Bloom's Taxonomy of Action Verbs.

The following prose may be helpful:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • recognize and identify XX in relation to XX.
  • demonstrate a basic understanding of XX.
  • discriminate between XX and XX.
  • analyze XX and apply that analysis to XX.

Evaluation Methods

A description of how the instructional objectives listed above will be assessed. The procedures for determining students’ grades should be specifically identified. Include percentages per evaluation method to total 100%.

  • Do not include class attendance as an evaluation method in graduate courses; however, class participation is a legitimate method of evaluation.
  • Do not include office hours as an evaluation method.
  • Make sure percentages are appropriately weighted (e.g., quizzes should count for less than major research papers).
  • Make sure percentages total 100%. For percentages within a category (2 quizzes totaling 20%, for example), note whether these will be weighted equally to total that percentage.
  • Make sure evaluation methods are not unique to the faculty member proposing the course, but can be used by any faculty member teaching the course in the future.

Relationship/Linkage of Course to Other Courses

This statement should relate the course to existing or proposed new courses. It should explain whether the course requires any prerequisites or can serve as a prerequisite for other courses. If the answer is no, please state that: “This course has no formal prerequisites nor does it serve as a formal prerequisite for any other course.” If there is any overlap of content with existing permanent courses, explain how the proposed course differs from and complements those courses.

The following prose may be helpful:

  • This course is designed for (Ph.D. and/or M.A.) students in degree program XX to prepare them for XX.
  • This course will serve as a prerequisite for XX degree program, or XX concentration in department XX.
  • This course builds on content covered in XX and XX courses and enables student to do XX.

Relationship of Course to Major, Option, Minor, or General Education

This statement should explain how the course will contribute to any major, option, or minor (specify which) and indicate how it may function as a service course for other programs.

State whether the course is required and, if so, in what degree program(s) or if the course is an elective. If a course is indicated as required that has not previously been required in a particular degree program, a program change proposal will be required.

The following prose may be helpful:

  • This course addresses the needs of increasing numbers of students interested in XX.
  • This course will be a requirement for the XX degree program in YY.
  • It will serve as an elective for the XX degree program in YY(s).
  • It will also attract students in other programs. List these other programs, and make sure the program heads are consulted.

Special Facilities

Specify if any technologies or equipment are needed for the classroom in a residential course. If none are needed, enter "N/A."

Frequency of Offering and Enrollment

Indicate how many students are expected to enroll and how often the course will be taught.


Consultation requests are made directly in CRCS. The unit originating the proposal should consult all units with a known interest in the subject field, not simply those in the same college. Consultation should also be requested from any other programs listed in the proposal as potentially affected by the course. Consultation should be requested from all relevant programs/departments, preferably at the level of the program/department head. Some duplication of instruction is inevitable, but the Joint Curricular Committee is concerned with keeping such duplication to a minimum.

If consultants respond to the proposal with significant questions or concerns, these must be addressed by the proposers directly in the proposal in CRCS.

Links Related to Curricular Review

For additional information or to request consultation on a proposal, contact the Director of Graduate Council Administration.

This page was generated on September 16, 2021 at 12:39 PM Eastern Time. This may not be the most recent version. Check the website for updates.