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The curriculum review and approval process has many layers and steps. If you are new to developing curriculum proposals, the H&S Curriculum Committee strongly urges you to review the HSCC Guidelines in advance (the guidelines provide a detailed discussion of the proposal routing, review, and approval process), and then consult with the HSCC Chair and/or the Associate Dean if you need additional information or guidance.

Below, we excerpt the section from the Guidelines about how to craft a robust rationale in support of your curriculum proposals. The rationale in CIM is the section most carefully considered by HSCC and APC.

Writing the Rationale for Curriculum Proposals

The rationale is one of the most important elements of a proposal. This is where new curricular additions or modifications are explained and justified. The committees that review these proposals will rarely be in the same or even a related disciplinary area as the proposer, so clarity, accuracy, and concision are key qualities. We suggest you answer or adapt the statements below in your rationale for new or revised proposals.

General principle: while it may be the case that a specific course reflects a faculty member’s particular scholarly expertise, our expectation is that courses being added to the curriculum are supported by the whole department and play a role in the overall curriculum. Therefore, rationales are better phrased in terms of “we” or “the department” rather than “I,” and the justification should be about the role of the course in the curriculum, not the expertise of the faculty colleague. We assume our colleagues are prepared and qualified to teach the courses they offer!

A. New course proposal rationale

The rationale should address the following questions:

  • What does the course add to the department’s major and/or minor programs or concentrations in terms of content, skills, or a combination? 

  • If the course is targeted to a general education audience, what does this add to the broader educational experience of Ithaca College students? 

  • How are the learning outcomes for the course (which must be specified) aligned with program learning outcomes and consistent with the level of the course? 

  • If the course is being added in response to program review or SLO assessment – what specifically did the department learn and how would this course address that need? 


Remember that the rationale is also the place to explain how the prerequisites or restrictions support students to be successful in the course, and why the course is placed at the level that it is. If the course will be taught with an alternative type of pedagogy to a standard lecture, seminar, studio, or lab course, the rationale is also the place to characterize that, and explain why this pedagogy is appropriate to the course.

If the course was previously an experimental course: The rationale can include information about the success of the course when it was offered, but popularity of a course is not a curricular justification, and so should not be the primary rationale provided. Further, the rationale does not need to address how the course has changed or is changing since it was offered experimentally, but rather should treat the course as a new proposal with the particulars (in terms of course description, prereq, syllabus, etc.) provided.

B. Course revision proposal rationale

For existing courses, it is not necessary to include a detailed history of how the course has been taught in the past. The key task in the revised course rationale is to describe the changes and justify them. In this case, changes may be:

  • due to modifications in departmental curricular priorities, 


  • in response to new developments in professional or academic practice, or 

  • following from program or SLO assessment. 



Questions to address include:

  • What is being added to or removed from a course? 

  • Are the learning outcomes changing, and if so, how and why? 
How does the change to this course impact the major, minor, or general education program?

C. New and revised program (major and minor) proposals rationales

New major and minor programs need to be created before a curriculum proposal can be submitted. The New Program Authorization Proposal, available through CIM, provides the opportunity to propose the creation of a new program. This proposal will be reviewed and approved by the Dean and the Provost before the curriculum proposal can be created in CIM. If you are planning to create a new program, please consult with the Associate Dean before getting started. 
Once the program has been authorized, you can then prepare the curriculum proposal.

See the How to…. Step-By-Step Guide for Proposers Preparing New and Revised Program Proposals  (located in the Curriculum Guides for Faculty folder) for detailed guidance on preparing program proposals in CIM.

New program curriculum rationale

This should include: 


  • General description of the overall structure of the requirements, and an explanation of how this structure reflects or addresses the goals of the program in terms of learning outcomes, content, and skills.
  • Specific discussion of each component of the program requirements, that explains the role each requirement plays — whether a course or set of courses, a set of restricted electives, or a required experience — in supporting students to achieve the learning outcomes expected.

  • If using attributes, a discussion of the criteria to be used to determine whether a course meets the intended outcomes associated with the attribute is also expected.

Revised program curriculum rationale

As with revised course proposals, these rationales should describe the changes being made and an explanation for each of them. Program changes may be:

  • due to modifications in departmental curricular priorities, 

  • in response to new developments in professional or academic practice, or 

  • following from program or SLO assessment. 


Questions to address include: 


  • What is being added to or removed from a program? 

  • (How) are the program learning outcomes changing? 

  • How does this change affect the school or college? 


Additional questions for all program proposals include:

  • how does the new or revised program contribute to the overall curriculum of H&S and to Ithaca College?
  • how does the new or revised program reflect current academic standards, including types of courses offered, sequencing of courses, and assessment procedures?