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2.7.2 Program Content PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 04 September 2009 12:11

2.7.2 Program Content

The institution offers degree programs that embody a coherent course of study that is compatible with its stated mission and is based upon fields of study appropriate to higher education.

Responsible Unit: Division of Academic Affairs

Compliance Judgment



The degree programs of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (A&T) embody a coherent course of study that is compatible with the university’s mission and are based on fields of study appropriate to postsecondary education. In North Carolina, the University of North Carolina General Administration (UNC-GA) uses the US Department of Education Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) taxonomy [1] for postsecondary disciplines as the basis for the University of North Carolina CIP [2]. All degree programs at A&T have CIP codes in accordance with UNC-GA policies; therefore, A&T’s programs [3] are aligned with postsecondary programs throughout the University of North Carolina [4] and the United States.


Coherence with the Mission Statement: Every degree program at A&T is compatible with and seeks to achieve the stated mission, purpose, and goals of the university [5] as well as the mission of the University of North Carolina (UNC) [6] as required by the Board of Governors. In accordance with the Policy Manual of the University of North Carolina [7], the chancellors of the constituent institutions shall communicate to the senior vice-president of the UNC System of their intentions or requests with respect to instructional program development. Similarly, the UNC president, with input from the constituent institutions, will present to the Board of Governors a long-range plan [8] that will outline the process for linking academic programs with the mission, direction, and programmatic priorities of the university.

In 2002, A&T realized a need to review the strategic vision for the university and created a plan of “Uncompromising Excellence” labeled “FUTURES,” which positioned the university to seek “to be the premier interdisciplinary–centered university in America by building on its comparative advantages in engineering, technology and business; a strong civil rights legacy; and status as an 1890 land-grant institution” and a set of five goals [9][10] [11] [12] [13] aimed at enhancing the culture of high standards of all students, faculty, staff, alumni, community, public and private sector friends. FUTURES gives focus and guidance for all program development and ensures all degree programs have consistency and align themselves with the vision and goals. Furthermore, A&T has put its plan into action as documented by “Progress in Action” [14]. This document highlights the progress on each of the five goals as stated in FUTURES and demonstrates progress on near-term, mid-term and long-range objects in securing A&T’s future as “a premier interdisciplinary-centered University.”

In 2007, the UNC System, composed of seventeen constituent institutions, embarked on the UNC Tomorrow Initiative. The purpose of this initiative was to determine how the University of North Carolina could respond more directly and proactively to the twenty-first century challenges facing North Carolina through the efficient and effective fulfillment of its three-pronged mission of teaching, research and scholarship, and public service [15]. A commission and a Scholar’s Council, along with the UNC-GA leadership team, direct the UNC Tomorrow Initiative.

The commission, which is a blue-ribbon group including business, education, government, and nonprofit leaders from across the state, is charged with learning what the people of North Carolina need from their university system and making related recommendations to the Board of Governors [16]. Another critical partner in the University of North Carolina Tomorrow initiative is the Scholars Council. Made up of faculty from across the UNC System, the Scholars Council provides expertise and guidance to the University of North Carolina Tomorrow Commission and leadership team at UNC General Administration. A&T has representation on this council [17].

FUTURES [18] and the UNC Tomorrow Initiative demonstrate that A&T’s vision and focus for the future align with that of the UNC General Administration. Moreover, FUTURES and the UNC Tomorrow Initiative provide the foundation for program development and approval at A&T.

Program Approval: To assure the relevance and cohesiveness of each academic program, the University of North Carolina has developed a strict policy [7] for planning and establishing new programs for all constituent universities. A&T has developed a set of internal procedures that conforms to the standards set by the UNC-GA and provides the framework by which faculty can initiate new program requests [19].

The UNC-GA procedures require two authorization steps – planning and establishing. For bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, the authorization to plan is granted with notification of the planning by the university, but for PhD programs a formal authorization must be granted by UNC-GA and the Board of Governors (BOG). To establish any new academic program, the UNC-GA and the BOG must approve the program [7].

An idea for a new degree program at A&T begins with administrator/faculty member(s) discussions on the need and appropriateness. The group then solicits support from the dean(s) to request that the provost establish a committee to begin the process of planning for the development of the proposed degree program [19].

Once the permission to plan has been granted by the provost, the planning committee is established. The UNC System procedures are carefully studied prior to generating an A&T - “Request for Planning a New Degree Program Form” [20]. After completion by the planning committee, this form is submitted to the provost’s office.

Once the request has been thoroughly reviewed by the provost’s office, meetings will be called, open to all faculty, staff, and administrators, at which the planning committee will present the proposal and answer questions. Based on input from faculty, staff, and administrators, the planning committee will make final revisions to the Request for Planning a New Degree Program Form and a formal proposal will be drafted, signed, and submitted to the provost for approval. If the provost approves the proposal, he/she will follow the required UNC procedures [21] for planning a new program. Since the UNC System has no core curriculum requirements, new programs are not subject to any UNC System-mandated core requirements [22]. For bachelor’s and master’s programs, UNC-GA allows the university to plan a new program after notification; therefore, the planning committee can begin working on A&T’s Request to Establish a New Program Form [23]. If the proposed new program is at the doctoral level, the Request to Plan a New Program must be submitted to UNC-GA and the BOG for approval. If approval is granted, the university can begin working on A&T’s Request to Establish a New Program Form. The same process is followed for developing the establishment proposal as with the planning proposal. Only after formal approval by UNC-GA and the BOG can A&T begin a new academic degree program.

After formal approval by UNC-GA and the BOG, the department responsible for administering the new degree program prepares the necessary forms for submitting a new curriculum for approval to the Faculty Senate [24]. The New Programs and Curriculum Committee reviews the proposed curriculum and recommends action to the full Faculty Senate. If the Faculty Senate approves the proposal, it is sent to the Office of the Provost for final approval for inclusion in the official degree program inventory. At this point, the registrar may include the new program and its approved curriculum and courses in all publications.

Program Assessment: The University of North Carolina Fiscal Accountability/Flexibility Act of 1991 requires that each constituent institution develop goals and assessment measures that ensure adequate program quality. Conforming to that request, A&T has established a process of program review and assessment that ensures expected outcomes are clearly defined and measurable and are used for improving education. Each academic program is evaluated on a five-year [25], rotating cycle [26]. Department chairs are responsible for the oversight of the completion of the reports. Generally, the report is completed by a group of faculty. The Five-Year Assessment and Program Evaluation Report consist of seven sections: overview, strategic plan, mission, faculty development progress, analysis, and student learning outcomes. See Outline for Five-Year Assessment and Program Evaluation Report for complete details [27].

As documented in the Five-Year Assessment and Program Evaluation Report, student learning outcomes are evaluated for each program by systematically listing all competencies e.g., knowledge, skills or behaviors expected of graduates, as well as evaluation methods employed. Major findings and changes made to the program as a result of the assessment are also outlined in a summary report. See Student Learning Outcomes Forms A, B, C, and D for a detailed description of the assessment process [28] [29].

Once the program assessment has been completed, the department chair reviews each assessment with the dean and the findings are used to complete Form D of the Student Learning Outcomes to ensure an ongoing program improvement plan [30]. Since 2002-2003, two bound copies of the reports have been submitted to the library.

General Education Assessment: Beginning in spring 2002, A&T undertook comprehensive internal assessment of its general education program as part of the FUTURES strategic vision initiative [18] [31]. The General Education Core Curriculum Review Committee, with faculty representatives from all the colleges and schools, oversaw the review process, developing recommendations for revising the general education program and implementing changes in the general education curriculum.

The General Education Core Curriculum Review Committee [32] was formed with the aim of recommending revisions to the core curriculum that would provide students with the foundational skills needed to succeed in their majors and careers. During the review stage, the committee critically analyzed the general education program, including comparisons with peer institutions and surveys of faculty.

External consultants from the University of Minnesota and North Carolina State University visited the campus to review the general education program and provided the committee with a report of findings. Members of the committee also visited Portland State University to review its University Studies program and ultimately drafted a model of the A&T University Studies program (See 2.7.3, General Education).

As work continued to implement the University Studies Program at A&T, the committee determined that the previously developed expected learning outcomes would need to be expanded to include measurable learning objectives that could be used for assessment purposes. These seventeen learning outcomes were condensed to five knowledge areas: communication, critical thinking, analytical reasoning, diversity and world cultures and ethics, and social and civic engagement. [33]

Additional evidence of both internal and external assessment can be found in several studies, surveys, and task force reports that have been generated since 2005. Most notable are: the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) Survey of full-time, tenure-track, pre-tenured faculty; Junior Faculty Task Force Report; Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) Longitudinal Study; and the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education.

The COACHE Survey [34], conducted in fall 2005, revealed several areas of concern among junior faculty. As a result, the Junior Faculty Task Force was formed to develop procedures to address these issues. During the summer of 2007 the task force provided a list of recommendations to senior administration [35] expressing their hopes that the recommendations would be used to develop an ongoing process of discovery, analysis, systematic change, assessment, and sharing in order to raise tenure-track faculty satisfaction and promote continuing professional development.

A&T is participating in a four-year national longitudinal study of the CLA, along with fifty-five other universities including three other UNC institutions: UNC-Wilmington, UNC-Charlotte, and Winston-Salem State University.

The CLA is a writing-based online exam that assesses critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and writing skills. The focus of the CLA is on measuring the “value-added” (changes in CLA scores) of an institution over four years of college, accounting for incoming student quality as measured by SAT scores. That is, value-added measures are reported as below, at, or higher than expected for a given institutional mean SAT score. The focus of analysis is on the institution, not individual students. Details of each assessment period are found in the attached document [36].

A&T also participated in the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education, a large-scale, longitudinal study to investigate critical factors that affect the outcomes of liberal arts education and help colleges and universities improve student learning. The study has two fundamental goals:

1) To learn what teaching practices, programs, and institutional structures support liberal arts education.

2) To develop methods of assessing liberal arts education.

Complete details of the study can be accessed at the following Web site [37].

Program Accreditation: Many of A&T’s programs are accredited by various state and national accrediting agencies, providing further evidence of regular external assessment. The following linked document shows fifty-one different programs that are accredited by seventeen accrediting agencies, along with scheduled dates of accreditation [38].

One such example is the Technology Education Program that is accredited by both the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) and the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) [39]. The goal of the technology education concentration is to prepare students to become technologically literate and satisfy NCDPI certification/licensure requirements for teaching technology education in the public schools, to prepare students as “catalysts for learning.”

To ensure that all education programs at A&T remain consistent with the mission of the university and goals of the School of Education, the school developed a conceptual framework: diversity, assessment, reflection and technology (DART) [40] [41] [42]. The following link provides evidence of preparation for assessment of the Technology Education Program by the NCDPI in March of 2007 [43].

Another example of A&T’s accredited programs is the School of Business & Finance. It was accredited in 1979, under the leadership of Dr. Quiester Craig, by the Association to Advance Colleges and Schools of Business (AACSB International) [44]. Accredited institutions must apply for maintenance of accreditation every five years by completing a Maintenance Review Application [45]. The process emphasizes continuous improvement and involves peer reviews of the programs by faculty from comparable programs [46]. The institution also must list degree programs offered, identify any programs to be excluded, provide comparison group information, and show, through documentation, how its programs comply with AACSB standards.

As a point of reference and comparison, several links included below will provide the accrediting bodies of some peer institutions. South Alabama [47], Jackson State University [48], Cleveland State University [49], and Portland State University [50] have similar goals and missions as A&T and share many of the same accrediting bodies, providing evidence of nationally accepted external reviews.

Undergraduate Degrees: At A&T, all undergraduate academic degree programs have several components that are shared across disciplines. Approximately one-third of every undergraduate degree program (thirty-seven semester credit hours) is dedicated to general education, or what is referred to as University Studies [51]. (See 3.5.3 Undergraduate Program). University Studies is organized around seventeen learning objectives [33], which were adopted by the faculty in the fall of 2004. The program was implemented in the fall semester of 2006. University Studies consists of five foundation courses (thirteen credit hours) [52], theme cluster elective courses (twelve credit hours) [53], nine credits which are major-specified, and a senior capstone course. In addition to this course work, students are required to complete fifty hours of service learning before they can register for their senior capstone course [54].

All of the University Studies foundation courses are interdisciplinary, and combine various core student-learning objectives. All seventeen learning objectives are covered in the foundation courses. The learning objectives are reinforced during the theme-cluster courses, which at present include 1) Science, Technology and Society, 2) Energy, Environment and Society, 3) Community, Conflict and Society, 4) Health, Lifestyles and Society and 5) Philosophy, Religion and Society [54]. The theme clusters include a mixture of courses from disciplinary departments, as well as University Studies courses that are interdisciplinary. Additional theme clusters are envisioned, including a possible cluster on globalism, as well as one focused on secondary education teacher preparation. See the linked document for complete details and samples of the University Studies (UNST) requirements [54].

Next are the major core courses that provide the foundation within a discipline. An example is the General Economics Program within the Department of Economics and Transportation/Logistics [54]. There are also options within the major that allow the student to choose areas of interest for additional study [56]. And finally, there are free electives that allow students to explore other interests [57]. The degree programs, course descriptions, and degree requirements are published in hard copy and online versions of the Undergraduate Bulletin [58]. The integrity and coherence of the degree program are assessed by the faculty of the program, department curriculum committee, school curriculum committee, and Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee before review by the Faculty Senate and finally the provost. [59]


The degree programs of North Carolina A&T State University embody a coherent course of study that aligns with the university’s mission and are based on fields of study appropriate to postsecondary education. The University of North Carolina uses the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) [60] to classify its programs in the UNC Academic Program Inventory (API) [61]. The CIP classifies all university degree programs into 52 major discipline divisions. Currently UNC constituent institutions offer programs in 30 of these discipline divisions [62]. All degree programs offered at North Carolina A&T State University have assigned CIP codes as required by the University of North Carolina General Administration policies [4]. In addition, North Carolina A&T State University fulfills its mission as a 1890 Land Grant Institution [63] by offering degree programs in agriculture [64], science [65] and engineering [66]. Therefore, North Carolina A&T State University programs offers degree programs that embody a coherent course of study that is compatible with its stated purpose as a 1890 Land Grant Institution and which are based upon fields of study appropriate to postsecondary education throughout the State of North Carolina and the United States of America.

Coherence with the Mission, Purpose and Goals of the University

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is a public, doctoral/research intensive [67] [68], land-grant University. The University offers degree programs at the baccalaureate, masters and doctoral levels. All degree programs at North Carolina A&T State University are committed to fulfilling the University’s fundamental purposes through exemplary undergraduate and graduate instruction, scholarly and creative research, and effective public service. As one of North Carolina’s three engineering colleges, the University offers Ph.D. programs in engineering, as well as two interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs in Leadership Studies and Energy and Environmental Studies [69]. Basic and applied research is conducted by faculty and students in eight research clusters [70]: Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, Computational Science and Engineering, Public Health, Biotechnology and Biosciences, Leadership and Community Development, Information Technology, Transportation and Logistics, and Agriculture, Energy and Environment.

Appropriateness to higher education

The academic programs at North Carolina A&T State University are in accordance with Section 400.1.1 of the University of North Carolina Academic Program Development Procedures [71], which states that new academic programs must a) be directly related to the institutional mission and fit into the institution’s strategic plan; and b) must indicate a relationship to other existing programs at the institution. Additionally, new programs that are currently in the process of planning or will be planned in the future must adhere to the mission of the University of North Carolina Today Initiative, which emphasizes efficient and effective teaching, research and scholarship, and public service [72]. In response to the major findings of the UNC Tomorrow Commission Final Report, teams of individuals were appointed at NC A&T to develop UNC Tomorrow Phase I [73] and Phase II Response Plans [74]. In the Phase I Response Plan, the University categorized the major Findings and Recommendations in the Commission Final Report into three levels of priority for the University. Under each of the major Findings and Recommendations, the University identified the key set of priorities that it would seek to implement moving forward. In the Phase II Response Plan, the University identifies how it is prepared to implement the key priorities in the context of the Commission’s Major Findings and Recommendations. The Phase II Report concluded that the existing degree programs at NC A&T collectively address all the identified UNC Tomorrow skills our graduates will need for success [74].

Program Approval

North Carolina A&T State University assures that each degree program demonstrates coherence in sequencing, increasing complexity, and linkages between and among program components through a rigorous and comprehensive program proposal review and approval process. As outlined in the Procedures to Request Planning for a New Academic Program at North Carolina A&T State University [75] and principle 2.7.1, any new program, in general, must be consistent with the interdisciplinary nature of the University’s vision, mission and goals. A new graduate degree program must be rigorously critiqued at several levels before it can be listed as a graduate degree granting program at North Carolina A&T State University. To begin the process the new program idea is presented to the department curriculum committee. Upon approval by this committee the graduate degree proposal is presented to the department’s faculty for a vote. If approved at this faculty level, the graduate degree proposal is forwarded to the school/college curriculum committee for consideration. If the graduate degree proposal is accepted by the school/college curriculum committee, it is forwarded to the Graduate Council for review and comments. From there it goes to the Faculty Senate Committee on New Programs and Curricula. Upon approval by the Faculty Senate Committee, the new graduate degree proposal is submitted to the Faculty Senate for approval. If approved by the Faculty Senate, the new graduate degree proposal is sent to the university provost, and from there on to the University of North Carolina System for approval. Planning a new doctoral degree program requires formal authorization to plan from the University of North Carolina General Administration. The request is submitted by the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs after comprehensive internal strategic planning. The formal request to plan must indicate how the proposed program fits into the institution’s comprehensive strategic plan and addresses issues such as need, demand, potential duplication, readiness of the institution to offer the program, and potential costs. The proposals for new doctoral programs are reviewed by the University of North Carolina chief academic officers and graduate deans at their periodic Graduate Council meetings with the Senior Vice President of the University of North Carolina systems. After input from the deans at the Graduate Council meetings, the Senior Vice President presents the recommendation regarding authorization to plan a new doctoral program to the Committee on Educational Planning, Policies, and Programs for approval.

Supporting Documents

[1] CIP, Classifications

[2] UNC-GA, CIP Codes

[3] DOR, CIP Codes

[4] UNC-GA, Code, 400.1.1, Academic Program Development Procedures

[5] Undergraduate Bulletin, 2008-2010, Mission, Purpose, Goals of the University

[6] UNC-GA, Mission Statement

[7] UNC-GA, Academic Program Development

[8] UNC-GA, Code, Long-Range Planning

[9] FUTURES, Goal 1

[10] FUTURES, Goal 2

[11] FUTURES, Goal 3

[12] FUTURES, Goal 4

[13] FUTURES, Goal 5

[14] FUTURES, Progress in Action

[15] UNC Tomorrow, Website

[16] UNC Tomorrow Commission

[17] UNC Tomorrow, Scholar’s Council,

[18] FUTURES, Home Page

[19] Policies, Procedures to Request Planning New Program

[20] Policies, Request New Degree Form

[21] UNC-GA, Procedures to Develop Academic Program

[22] UNC-GA, No Core Requirements

[23] Polices, Procedures to Establish New Academic Program

[24] Faculty Handbook, 2007, New Program Committee

[25] Five-Year Cycle Assessment, 2001-2006 Schedule

[26] Five-Year Cycle Assessment, 2007-2012 Schedule

[27] Five-Year Assessment, Outline

[28] Five-Year Assessment, Forms A-D

[29] Five Year Assessment, Instructions Forms A-D

[30] IPAR, Human Development and Services Forms 5-year Review

[31] UNST, History of General Education Curriculum Review

[32] General Education, Core Curriculum Review Committee

[33] 17 Learning Outcomes

[34] COACHE, Wabash National Study Website

[35] Report, Junior Faculty Task Force

[36] CLA, assessment outline

[37] Wabash National Study, Academy for Teaching and Learning Website

[38] Accreditation Schedule, On-Site Visit

[39] Syllabus, Technology Education

[40] Conceptual Framework Model

[41] Advanced Summary of Dispositions

[42] SOT, Technology Education Program

[43] Accreditation Report, NCDPI

[44] AACSB, Accreditation, I,

[45] AACSBI, Maintenance Handbook

[46] AACSBI, Accredited Schools

[47] Peer Institution, University of S. Alabama

[48] Peer Institution, Jackson State University

[49] Peer Institution, Cleveland State University

[50] Peer Institution, Portland State University

[51] UNST, Homepage

[52] UNST, Foundation Courses

[53] UNST, Theme-based Courses

[54] UNST, General Program Requirements

[55] Curriculum, General Economics Program

[56] Curriculum, General Economics Program, Major Electives

[57] Curriculum, General Economics Program, Free Electives

[58] Undergraduate Bulletin, {Online}

[59] Policies, Procedures to Request Planning New Academic Program

[60] NC Code List

[61] UNC Academic Program Inventory (API), pages 1-34

[62] FACTBOOK, CIP Codes, pages II-1-II-42

[63] Land Grant, 1890 Institution Information

[64] Graduate Catalog, Agriculture Degree Programs, p. 52

[65] Graduate Catalog, Biology, Chemistry and Physics Degree Programs, p. 52

[66] COE, Degree Programs, pp. 51-52

[67] Carnegie Classification, N.C. A&T State University

[68] Carnegie Classification, Description

[69] Graduate Catalog, PhD Programs, p. 51

[70] DORED, Research Clusters

[71] UNC-GA, Code, Section 400.1.1, Academic Program Development Procedures

[72] UNC Tomorrow, Initiative

[73] UNC Tomorrow, Response Phase I, p. 3

[74] UNC Tomorrow, Response Phase II, p. 4

[75] Policies, Procedures to Request Planning for a New Academic Program

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