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New Academic Program - Expedited Process

The purpose of THEC Policy A 1.6 is to decrease the time of approval for new academic programs which meet workforce, economic , or other state needs while still assuring quality, student demand, uniqueness, and institutional capacity to deliver the proposed program (THEC policy A 1.6.1A).


  • Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics programs identified via CIP classification in the Expedited Academic Programs Checklist
    • 01 - Agricultural/Animal/plant/Veterinary Science and Related Fields
    • 03 - Natural Resources and Conservation
    • 11 - Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services
    • 14 - Engineering
    • 15 - Engineering/Engineering-related Technologies/Technicians
    • 26 - Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    • 27 - Mathematics and Statistics
    • 40 - Physical Sciences
  • Selected highly specialized multidisciplinary programs in STEM, such as Data Science (30.70 CIP)
  • High demand programs as established in the THEC Academic Supply and Occupational Demand Report
  • Programs created in response to demonstrated workforce needs
  • Doctoral Programs
  • Programs requiring approval from SACSCOC
  1. Expedited Letter of Notification (ELON)
  2. Expedited New Academic Program Proposal (ENAPP)
  3. External Review
  4. Post-External Judgment
  5. Commission Action

Expedited Letter of Notification

The President of Austin Peay State University will be required to submit a formal request to the THEC Executive Director requesting the new program be considered for the Expedited Process. Justification as to why the program should be considered will be required. Upon approval of the request, THEC will place the proposed program on the website for a comment period of ten calendar days. At the end of this comment period, THEC will review all comments and documents in order to ensure there are no issues regarding Section 1.0.2A, "Criteria for Review" and 1.0.2A2, "No Unnecessary Duplication".*Please note THEC reserves the right to extend the comment period up to a maximum of 20 days.


Components of ELON

  • Institution name
  • Proposed Academic Program
  • Degree Designation
  • Proposed CIP code
  • CIP Code Title
  • Academic Program Liaison (APL) name and contact information
    • The APL will serve as the information resource for the proposed academic program at the institution.
  • Implementation Timeline
    • Proposed dates for the external judgement site visit
    • Estimated date of submission of the external review report to THEC and the institution
    • Estimated date of institution's response to external review
    • Estimated timeline for proposed programs that will seek programmatic accreditation
    • Proposed date (month and year) of the institutional governing board's meeting to consider program for approval
    • Proposed date (month and year) of the THEC meeting to consider program approval
    • Proposed implementation date (semester and year) when students will enroll in the proposed program
  • Background narrative
    • Provide a short narrative, describing the circumstances that initiated the need and development of the proposed program.
    • Provide a general overview of the program, including a description of the nature of the proposed program, total credit hours, and modalities of course delivery. 
  • Justification for consideration of expedited policy
    • Provide clear evidence that the proposed program is in high demand in the region and the state.
  • Existing program of study at the institution
    • If the proposed program is emerging from an existing minor or certificate program provide the previous three years of enrollment and graduation data for the existing program.
  • Community and industry partnerships
    • Provide a minimum of two letters of support from regional, community, and/or workforce partners in the ELON appendix.
  • If the proposed program has a programmatic accrediting agency, please describe plans, timeline, and associated costs to obtain accreditation.


  • Provide an organizational chart that includes the college, department, administrative unit, and program director for the proposed program. 
  • If a new academic department will be required THEC Policy A1.3 will need to be followed and should be noted in this section. This must be submitted concurrently with the ELON.


  • Please provide five years of projected enrollment and graduation numbers for the proposed program. The THEC table at the link below should be utilized for this data. Attrition calculations should be based on the average rates of similar programs or overall institution attrition rates.


  • Alignment with State Master Plan and institutional mission profile
    • Explain how the proposed program aligns with THEC Master Plan and Institution mission statement
  • Student Interest
    • Provide compelling evidence of student interest in the program.
      • enrollment in related concentrations or minors
      • representative student and alumni surveys
        • national, statewide and professional employment forecasts and surveys
  • Existing programs offered at public and private Tennessee universities
    • List all academic programs with the same or similar CIP codes
    • If there are current programs in Tennessee, provide a short narrative on how the proposed program will be substantially different from the existing program.
  • Articulation and transfer
    • For proposed bachelor programs, indicate all Tennessee Transfer Pathways (TTP) that may be acceptable for program entry
    • Indicate any additional community college or technical college programs that may be articulated for transfer into the proposed bachelor's program

Expedited New Academic Program Proposal

The Expedited New Academic Program Proposal must align with THEC Policy A 1.0 in that the institution is responsible for creating a quality academic program.

Once the ENAPP is submitted to THEC the institution may initiate the site visit for the proposed program.

Components of the ENAPP

  • Most current version of the ELON must appear as the first section of the ENAPP
  • Institution's response to the ELON evaluation
  • Catalog description
  • Program learning outcomes
    • outcomes should reflect the specific knowledge and skills expected for students to acquire as part of their educational experience.
  • Student learning outcomes
    • should clearly state the specific and measurable outcomes students will display to verify learning has occurred.
    • every student learning outcome must directly align with and/or relate to one or more program learning outcomes.
  • Academic program requirements
    • required number of semester credit hours
    • courses (prefix, number, title, and SCH)
    • any special requirements (internship, practicum etc.)
  • Existing and new courses
  • Program of Study
    • include all required courses by semester and term
  • Assessment and Evaluation
    • who will be responsible for program assessments and evaluations
    • provide the schedule for program assessments or evaluations including program evaluations associated with Quality Assurance Funding, program review, student evaluations, faculty review, accreditation, and employer evaluation.
  • Academic standards
    • admission, retention, and graduate standards
  • Marketing and recruitment
    • a plan to outline how the proposed program will market and recruit a diverse population of students including underserved and historically underrepresented students and is aligned with the implementation timeline.
  • Student support services
    • overview of student support services that will be available (e.g. academic advising, tutoring, internship placement, career counseling)
    • describe how the program will ensure students success for all students especially the underserved and underrepresented students.


  • Faculty resources
  • Current faculty
    • Utilizing the Current Faculty Roster Table please list the name, highest degree, rank and primary department, full or part time status and percentage of time devoted to the program.
    • Identify the faculty who will have administrative responsibilities for the program with "PD" after the faculty member's name.
  • Anticipated faculty
  • Non-Instructional Staff
    • Utilizing the Anticipated Non-instructional Staff table list the additional Non-Instructional Staff needed during the next five years for successful implementation of the program.


  • Accreditation
    • describe any costs associated with regional or programmatic accreditation during the planning and first five years 
  • Consultants
    • provide a summary of anticipated consultant needs and associated costs for during the planning period and first five years
  • Equipment
    • assess the adequacy of the existing equipment available for the program
    • describe additional equipment needed during the planning and first five years
  • Information technology
    • describe current information technology resources available to the program
    • describe additional information technology acquisitions needed for the planning and first five years
  • Library Resources
    • provide an overview of the current library resources available to support the program
    • describe additional library acquisitions needed during the planning and first five years
  • Marketing
    • outline any anticipated costs associated with the marketing for the proposed program during the planning and first five years.
  • Facilities
    • describe facilities that will support the program
    • for new or renovated spaces, clearly outline them and include the amount and type of space, cost identified, and source of funding to cover costs
  • Travel
    • provide a summary of anticipated travel costs during the planning and first five years
  • Other Resources
    • describe other support resources available to the program
    • describe additional support services that may be needed during the planning and first five years.
  • Estimated Costs to Deliver table

External Review

Process by which APSU's proposed program is evaluated and recommendations are made to enhance the program from subject matter experts outside of the state of Tennessee and THEC.

  • be a subject matter expert in the proposed field
  • be a tenured faculty member with associate of higher academic rank, teaching and a record of research experience
  • no prior relationship with either the institution or close personal or familial relationship with the potential faculty involved in the proposed academic program
  • not be employed within the state of Tennessee
  • not have been a consultant or a board member at the institution within the last ten years
  • not have been a candidate for employment with the institution within the last seven years
  • not be a graduate of the institution
  • not have any other relationship that could serve as an impediment to rendering impartial, objective professional judgement regarding the merits of the proposed academic program

Should no external reviewed be available or acceptable from the list of proposed by Austin Peay State University, THEC staff reserve the right to approve an exception or propose an alternative external reviewer.

Once the institution has identified the individuals who will serve to review the program, dates will be set based on THEC availability and a list of question for the reviewer will be provided.

At the conclusion of the review process, the reviewer will have 30 calendar days to submit a written report of findings from the visit.

Austin Peay State University will obtain a copy of the external reviewer's report and will have 30 calendar days to respond. At this time, the university will be responsible for answering any questions regarding the program and to update any recommendations which are noted as required (this may be admission or curricular related items for the program).

THEC will then make a determination to support, not support or defer support of the program. Should the determination be to not support the program, the institution may appear the decision by responding to all identified issues within 15 calendar days of THEC's determination. Should support be deferred the institution may submit revision within 60 calendar days of THEC's determination

Proposed academic programs supported by THEC will then be approved by the Austin Peay State University Board of Trustees. Once approval is granted, the proposal will be sent to the THEC Commissioners to be voted on at the earliest possible meeting.

*Proposal may not be advertised by any public institution prior to approval by the Commission unless exceptional circumstances require special consideration.

This process is initiated when a new program receives approval by THEC Executive Director or the Commission. The monitoring period will be:

  • three years for pre-baccalaureate programs
  • five years for baccalaureate and master's programs
  • seven years for doctoral programs

At the end of the monitoring programs are evaluated via the Quality Assurance Funding process.

*THEC reserves the right to extend the post-approval monitoring period is needed to assure the program has met specific benchmarks.