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Office of the Provost


Academic Certificates

Certificates usually signify that a student has reached a standard of knowledge about a certain vocational or professional subject.

Propose an Academic Certificate Action

Consult the procedures below for proposing new, modified, or terminated academic certificates. For information about professional and noncredit certificates, contact Continuing Education Programs.

Undegraduate Certificates

Undergraduate Certificates require a minimum of 15 credit hours beyond high school. Because state law specifies that four-year degree-granting institutions may not offer undergraduate degrees lower than a baccalaureate, new undergraduate certificate programs are permitted only on two-year campuses of the USC system. Students in the two-year campus certificate programs are required to be matriculated at the campus where they are completing the coursework to receive their certificate. In the rare cases of pre-existing undergraduate certificate programs on the four-year campuses, students enrolling in these programs are required to either 1) already have completed a baccalaureate degree, and/or 2) be concurrently enrolled in a regular baccalaureate program.

Graduate Certificates

Graduate certificates require a minimum of 12 graduate credit hours either post-baccalaureate or post-master’s. Post-baccalaureate certificates require the bachelor’s degree for admission, and post-master’s certificates require the master’s degree.

New Academic Certificates ≤ 18 hours

The decision to begin a new certificate should be based on a careful assessment of anticipated student need or demand, sustainable faculty and staff resources, and impact on unit facilities.

New certificate programs require approval at all levels of the university as well as notification to the state Commission on Higher Education (CHE) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).


Initiating a New Certificate Program, 18 credit hours or less

The Academic Program Liaison (APL) must submit the new program in the Academic Program Proposal System (APPS). New programs can only be initiated by APLs in APPS. The proposing department or unit must submit a completed CHE Notification of Change-New Certificate Form to the Office of Academic Programs. Please refer to the CHE Timeline for New Certificates for important dates/timelines.


Approval Process

Required approvals as outlined below may take up to one year for full review. New certificates ≤ 18 credit hours may only be marketed and assigned a major code by the University Registrar after CHE and SACSCOC approvals have been received by the Provost’s Office.

Approval levels:

  1. Academic Unit Head
  2. College/School Representative
  3. Faculty Senate or Graduate Council
  4. Board of Trustees (BOT Academic Affairs and Full BOT)
  5. CHE Notification (ACAP)
  6. SACSCOC Notification (Submitted by the Office of Academic Programs)


Additional Approvals

Any program related to P-12 educator preparation requires a letter of endorsement from the Dean of the College of Education. Educator-preparation programs require additional approvals by the State Department of Education. Interdisciplinary program proposals should include letters of concurrence from all involved units.

New Academic Certificates > 18 hours

The decision to begin a new certificate should be based on a careful assessment of anticipated student need or demand, sustainable faculty and staff resources, and impact on unit facilities.

New certificate programs require approval at all levels of the university as well as notification to the state Commission on Higher Education (CHE) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).


Initiating a New Certificate Program, more than 18 credit hours

The Academic Program Liaison [APL] must submit the new program in the Academic Program Proposal System (APPS). New programs can only be initiated by APLs in APPS.

The proposing department or unit must submit a completed CHE New Program Proposal Form to the Office of Academic Programs.

Please refer to the CHE Timeline for New Certificates for important dates/timelines.


Approval Process

Required approvals as outlined below may take up to two years for full review. New certificates may only be marketed and assigned a major code by the University Registrar after CHE and SACSCOC approvals have been received by the Provost’s Office.

Approval levels:

  1. Academic Unit Head
  2. College/School Representative
  3. Faculty Senate or Graduate Council
  4. Board of Trustees (BOT Academic Affairs and Full BOT)
  5. CHE Notification (ACAP, CAAL, and Full CHE)
  6. SACSCOC Notification (Submitted by the Office of Academic Programs)


Additional Approvals

Pre-authorization by the Provost may be required. Approvals at the department, college, and faculty governance levels are handled by the APPS system. The Faculty Senate or Graduate Council may request certificate representation at meetings to address questions or concerns. All Board of Trustees and CHE approvals require a certificate representative (preferably at the dean level) be present at meetings to address questions about the certificate.

Any program related to P-12 educator preparation requires a letter of endorsement from the Dean of the College of Education. Educator-preparation programs require additional approvals by the State Department of Education.  Interdisciplinary program proposals should include letters of concurrence from all involved units.

Modifying an Academic Certificate

Certificate modifications require the electronic submission of a Change to an Existing Program proposal in the Academic Program Proposal System (APPS).


Approval Process

Required approvals as outlined below may take up to one year.

Approval levels:

  1. Academic Unit Head
  2. College/School Representative
  3. Faculty Senate or Graduate Council
  4. CHE (NOC) (Submitted by the Office of Academic Programs)
  5. SACSCOC Notification (Submitted by the Office of Academic Programs)


Additional Approvals

Any revision related to a P-12 educator preparation program requires a letter of endorsement from the Dean of the College of Education. Interdisciplinary program revisions should include letters of concurrence from the units involved.

Terminating an Academic Certificate

Certificate terminations require approval at all levels of the university as well as notification to the state Commission on Higher Education (CHE) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).


Propose Certificate Termination

Terminating a program or certificate requires the electronic submission of a “Terminate a Program” proposal in the Academic Program Proposal System (APPS).

The proposing department or unit must submit a memo to the Provost, from the Dean of the proposing college, requesting that the program termination be placed on the agenda for consideration at the Board of Trustees meeting. The memo should address the following:

  • Reason for the termination;
  • When and how faculty and students were notified of the certificate termination;
  • When the certificate program will cease admitting students;
  • Provisions for existing students be complete the certificate;
  • How will faculty in the certificate program be effected;
  • When the last student will graduate from the certificate program (the effective date of the program termination will need to be AFTER the last student graduates).


Approval Process

Required approvals as outlined below may take up to one year for full review. Certificate terminations may only be implemented after CHE and SACSCOC approvals or acknowledgements have been received by the Provost's Office.

Approval levels:

  1. Academic Unit Head
  2. College/School Representative
  3. Faculty Senate or Graduate Council
  4. Board of Trustees (BOT Academic Affairs and Full BOT)
  5. CHE Notification (NOT) (Submitted by the Office of Academic Programs)
  6. SACSCOC Notification (Submitted by the Office of Academic Programs)

Approvals at the department, college, and faculty governance levels are handled by the APPS system. The Faculty Senate or Graduate Council may request certificate program representation at meetings to address questions or concerns.

Board of Trustees approvals will require a certificate program representative (preferably at the dean level) be present at meetings to address questions about the program termination.