Guidelines for Undergraduate Emphasis Areas

Emphasis areas allow students to focus their studies on a defined area within a discipline. Typically, emphasis areas consist of specific number of credit hours and coursework that enable the student to gain expertise in a defined area. Each academic unit lists areas of emphasis in the Registrar’s Catalog of Course Descriptions. The emphasis area will be noted only on a student’s transcript, not the diploma. The emphasis area and the degree must be awarded simultaneously.

Only degree-seeking students can choose an emphasis area. Individual academic units may stipulate course prerequisites or GPA requirements for emphasis areas.

The process for establishing an emphasis area begins with the department curriculum committee and requires the approval of the division curriculum committee, the dean, the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies and the campus undergraduate curriculum committee, prior to the approval by both the Provost and the Chancellor. Once approved by the Provost and the Chancellor, the Office of the Provost will forward the request and required materials to UM System, with the next step being the Coordinating Board for Higher Education.

Adding an emphasis area requires that at least 50% of courses be common to all such emphasis areas within the discipline. However, CBHE would like to see “some reasonable degree of uniqueness” between the programs. While Board of Curators approval is not needed, CBHE does need to approve the request. Implementation of the emphasis area, once approved, will be tied to the Registrar’s Catalog Description of Courses deadlines of January 10 and will take effect in the fall semester.

Proposals should include (1) rationale for the addition of the emphasis area (general statement of need in the form of a cover letter (2) curriculum before changes are made (3) curriculum after changes are made; the core curriculum must remain the same with a significant percentage of difference between each emphasis area in order to justify the additions (4) a demonstration that the courses will be offered regularly enough to allow students to complete the emphasis area in a timely fashion, (5) a list of and rationale for any additional course prerequisites or admissions requirements, (6) an account of the advising and support services that will be provided to students pursuing the emphasis area and the program director responsible for these services and (7) the endorsement of any academic units likely to be affected by the creation of the emphasis area.

Contact Crystal Reed, Office of the VP for Undergraduate Studies, for UCC information.

(Reviewed and accepted by the Committee on Undergraduate Education and the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, May, 2006).