New Certificate Programs

Programs leading to a statutory certificate require a minimum of 20 credits for students who are simultaneously enrolled in a degree program at Columbia and 24 credits if they are enrolled in the certificate as a stand-alone credential. Certificates are offered at the undergraduate level, and Advanced Certificate are offered at the graduate level.

The process to launch a new Certificate or Advanced Certificate is outlined below.  Please consult with OVPAP ([email protected]) if there are any questions regarding the necessary approval steps, appropriate forms to complete, or access to APAS (Academic Programs Approval System). Once a proposal has been submitted to APAS, those with APAS access at that school can log in and check the status at any time:

The University Statutes give the individual schools the responsibility for organizing curricular programs leading to new degrees, defining their requirements and approving the courses that fulfill those requirements.  Each school relies upon a Committee on Instruction (COI), Curriculum Committee (CC), or an equivalent faculty body, to ensure that its programs meet its standards of quality and contribute to its educational mission.  Therefore, every new certificate program must first be reviewed and approved by the COI, CC, or an equivalent body, of the school in which it will be offered.  It also needs the approval of the dean of the school.

Schools should complete and upload the appropriate internal University proposal form to APAS. Forms can be downloaded from the sidebar on the right. The internal proposal is uploaded by the School Administrator. Once schools have completed their respective internal review processes, a representative for the COI/CC and a representative for the school dean must give their approval in APAS.

The Vice Provost for Academic Programs evaluates proposals for new certificate programs on behalf of the Provost and forwards them to other offices for the following reviews:  

  • The University Registrar reviews proposals for conformity with University policies and New York State regulations;
  • The University Librarian certifies that the University has the information resources to support them;
  • The Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, who serves as the University’s Chief Digital Officer, evaluates any proposals involving online education; and 
  • The Vice Provost for Academic Programs also sends proposals for new programs or program name changes to the deans of all other Columbia schools to determine if the program will conflict with any they already offer or intend to offer. If questions about the new program are raised during decanal review, further consideration of the proposal is suspended until they are resolved. If the deans are unable to resolve the issue, the Provost determines when and how the proposal will move forward.

Once a proposal for a new certificate program has all of the approvals listed above, the Vice Provost for Academic Programs forwards it to the University Senate.

The Education Committee of the University Senate reviews all new programs leading to a certificate on behalf of the full Senate. 

  • It establishes a subcommittee at one of its meetings to review the proposal and report back to the full Committee at a subsequent meeting.  As part of its review, the subcommittee may discuss the proposal with the faculty sponsors of the proposed program and may request additional information to complete their review. 
  • After receiving the subcommittee’s report, the full Education Committee discusses the proposal and votes on whether to recommend it to the full University Senate. 

Proposals that receive an affirmative vote in the Education Committee are forwarded to the Executive Committee of the University Senate for consideration at the next Plenary meeting of the full Senate.

The Senate Education Committee meets monthly between September and April. It takes a minimum of 2-3 months (2-3 consecutive meetings) for the Senate Education Committee to complete their review. Therefore, it is advisable to submit proposals no later than November of the fall semester if the program is to make its way through the Senate process before the end of the academic year. 

Certificates and Advanced Certificates are not reviewed by the University Trustees.

Once a proposal for a new certificate program has received all of the necessary University approvals, the Vice Provost for Academic Programs submits it to the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

Within NYSED, proposals for new educational programs are reviewed by one of two offices, depending on the field of study. The Office of the Professions (OP) is responsible for reviewing programs in most fields for which the state issues licenses. Currently, OP approves new programs, with the exception of those leading to the Ph.D., in the following fields in which the University currently educates students:

  • Accounting
  • Architecture
  • Dental Medicine
  • Engineering
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Medicine
  • Mental Health
  • Nursing
  • Nutrition
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Social Work

OP also evaluates programming in other fields leading to a license.  A complete list of its areas of responsibility is available online at

Programs in other fields and all Ph.D. programs regardless of field are approved by the Office of College and University Evaluation (OCUE).

OP and OCUE each require different forms to establish a new degree or certificate program or to modify an already registered program.  Schools should contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Programs at [email protected] for guidance on how to complete the appropriate NYSED forms.

NYSED generally reviews applications within 12 to 18 months, depending on the volume of programs being reviewed and whether there are any questions about the program proposal that require supplemental information be submitted to NYSED. Therefore, it is wise to start the process early.