Helpful Hints

Please see additional information below.

The Senate and its Education Committee meet monthly between September and April.  Since it takes at least 2-3 months for the Senate to complete its review schools should send their proposals to the Vice Provost for Academic Programs as early in the academic year as possible, and certainly no later than November of the fall term.  If submitted later than November, it is likely that the Senate will not approve the new program until the following academic year.

To create a new program or modify an existing one, schools need to complete both a University application and forms that the New York State Education Department (NYSED) requires for its own review of educational programming.

Applications for new or changes to existing programs are entered through the Academic Program Approval System (APAS). Please contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Programs (OVPAP) at for access to APAS. Schools should also consult OVPAP for guidance on NYSED forms.

Schools should not change any of the NYSED’s forms and tables since that could lead the Department to reject the proposal without considering its content. 

Schools are expected to follow all of the directions for the relevant degree or certificate described on this web site.  In particular, they should complete all of the required forms and tables.  Missing information will delay the proposal's review.

If a school wishes to offer a program leading to a degree it has not previously awarded, the Trustees will need to amend the University Statutes to give it that authority.  The process of amending the Statutes requires a minimum of six months [MDB1] or possibly longer, depending on the schedule of the Trustees' meetings and when the Senate completes its own review.  Schools should consult with the Vice Provost whenever they have any questions about whether a proposal will need Trustee approval.

NYSED generally registers a new program in 18-24 months, though registration has taken longer in certain instances. Therefore, the earlier a proposal is ready for review, the greater the chances are that it will receive State approval in time to begin advertising/recruiting for the new program on the desired date.

The NYSED expects colleges and universities to obtain its approval for “substantial” changes in any educational program it has already registered.  Since proper registration is a condition for awarding students financial aid funded by both New York State and the federal government, schools should be familiar with the type of program changes that require NYSED approval. These are described on the web page, Substantive Changes: New York State Education Department.

A new program cannot begin without the approval of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education if it involves a substantive change in the University's accredited status.  Commission authorization is most likely to be necessary when a new program will be offered jointly with another institution, especially if it is located overseas.  Individuals developing a new program should, therefore, determine if it will need Commission approval by consulting the Middle States' Substantive Policy Statement or by contacting the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Programs. If it does, they should also keep in mind the schedule included in that Statement for when proposals need to be forwarded to the Commission.

There are many steps to the creation of a new educational program; every proposal does not go through the same process of approval; and the NYSED uses multiple forms to conduct its evaluation which can vary depending on the proposed program.  This web site seeks to be as comprehensive as possible, but it may not answer every question that how to obtain permission to start a new program. Sponsors of new programs can obtain additional information by contacting Melissa Begg, Vice Provost for Academic Programs, at or (212) 854-2691.

The Senate Guidance Document for Degree and Certificate Proposals addresses situations where a Columbia faculty offers an academic program where successful completion results in the receipt of more than one credential (i.e., degree or certificate), either within its own faculty, with another Columbia faculty, or in partnership with an external institution

Unclear what distinguishes a certificate from a Certification of Professional Achievement? Download a document that compares Certificates and Certification of Professional Achievement.