New certificates of less than 18 hours require completion of the Academic Program Action (APA) form and approval at the department, campus/college/school and university levels, but require only notification to the Commission on Higher Education (CHE) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
Any program related to P-12 educator preparation requires a letter of endorsement from the Dean of the College of Education. Interdisciplinary program proposals should include letters of concurrence from all involved units.
CHE approvals of 18+ hour programs occur on a quarterly cycle. CHE acknowledgements of notifications can take up to two months. Educator-preparation programs require additional approvals by the State Department of Education. Approvals or acknowledgements from SACS may take as long as six months. New certificate programs may only be marketed and assigned a code by the University Registrar after CHE and SACS approvals or acknowledgements have been received by the Provost's Office.
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.
For information about professional and noncredit certificates, contact the Office of System Affairs.
General Approval Timeframe: For certificates of 18 hours or more, or in new CIP code areas, two years from submission to Dean’s Office to admission of first students. For certificates under 18 hours, one year from submission to Dean’s Office to admission of first students.