Oversight of Academic Programs

The Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Programs (OVPAP) works with schools to secure approvals for new academic programs and changes to existing programs. Our office can provide guidance to schools at all stages of the review and approval process, and will work with schools to complete the steps necessary for registration with the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

This website provides step-by-step guidance on the review processes by which new programs are established and existing programs are modified. It also outlines the academic programs policy to which Columbia University is required to adhere to by NYSED and other regulatory bodies, including our accrediting agency, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Please reach out to the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Programs (OVPAP) at [email protected] for clarification regarding any part of this guidance.

All internal Columbia University proposal forms and forms required for registration with NYSED are downloadable from this website by clicking on “Forms” on the right-hand menu. OVPAP can advise which forms are most appropriate and provide guidance on how to complete it.

Columbia University offers the following degrees that are registered with NYSED:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Master’s degree
  • Doctoral degree
  • Dual degree (a program leading to 2 degrees, 1 or both of which may be awarded by Columbia)
  • Joint degree (a program leading to 1 or more degrees, developed collaboratively by Columbia in partnership with an outside institution)
  • Certificate (undergraduate level)
  • Advanced Certificate (graduate level)

Columbia also offers the following non-degree programs which are not registered with NYSED but do require internal University review and approval:

  • Certification of Professional Achievement (CPA)
  • Executive/Non-Credit Education

Please note that proposed new degree, certificate programs, and substantive changes cannot be advertised or marketed in any way (including websites), nor can students be recruited or admitted, until ALL approvals have been granted. For programs requiring NYSED approval, this means that NYSED must issue an official registration letter and program code. For CPAs and non-credit programs, all internal reviews must be complete prior to advertising, including review by the Senate Education Committee and Provost’s Office, as needed.

Once established, new degree and certificate programs are subject to further review. The Education Committee of the University Senate completes a 5th Year Review to assess the program. Substantive changes in existing programs may also trigger a further University and NYSED review. 

APAS - Academic Program Approval System

All new program proposals as well as program changes, with the exception of Executive/Non-Credit education, are processed through our online review program, APAS. A school that wishes to launch or modify a program must submit an application through APAS, which then routes each proposal through the appropriate pathway of approvals that are needed before a new program can begin or an existing program can be modified.  If you have questions about APAS or the approval process, please contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Programs (OVPAP) at [email protected].

Please note: Firefox is the recommended browser for APAS; functionality may be less than optimal when using Internet Explorer or Chrome.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Schools wishing to launch a brand new degree or certificate program should plan on a period of 18-24 months for the complete review, beginning when a proposal is uploaded to APAS. Submissions to NYSED may require a year or more beyond the completion of internal review processes.