Course Proposals

GSAS must approve any Arts and Sciences course at the 4000 level and above that meets any of the following criteria. The course:

  • is new
  • has been changed substantively in content, title, course level, course type, or requirements
  • has not been taught for five or more years.

Proposing a New Course

Course approval requests for GSAS must contain all of the following:

  • Course Approval Request Form, completed by the course instructor, the relevant faculty representative of the department (DGS or chair), and the ADA
  • Course syllabus and bibliography
  • CV of the instructor if the course is taught by a new faculty member, an adjunct instructor, or a visiting faculty member. GSAS requires all instructors who evaluate the course work of PhD students to hold a doctorate.

Although the notion of what constitutes graduate-level work may vary among departments, there should be a clear difference between the requirements for graduate and undergraduate courses.

Deadlines for New Course Proposals

Course approval requests should be submitted electronically to gsas-dean [at] Submission dates are as follows: 

Term Deadline
Fall courses mid-March submission
Spring courses mid-October submission
Summer courses mid-November submission


Instructions for Completing the Course Approval Request Form

Instructors, directors of graduate studies, and ADAs are required to complete different sections of the Course Approval Request Form. Please refer to the specific instructions below.


The Course Approval Request Form requires information from the proposed instructor in the following categories:

Name of Department/Program: This is the name of the department/program through which the course is being offered, regardless of the instructor’s home department. For example, if the course is offered through History, but the home department of the instructor is Classics, the form should say History. There are two types of department/program names:

  • Single Department/Program: The course is being offered by one department/program. 
  • Two or More Departments/Programs: If the course is being offered jointly by two or more departments/programs, all should be listed and the ADA of one of the departments/programs should contact Lenore Hubner to have a joint course designator created. For example, a course being jointly offered by History and Classics should be labeled History/Classics.

Subfield: Not all departments have subfields, but please include this information if applicable. For example, a course might have Political Science as its department name and American Politics as its subfield.

Term(s) to be Offered: There are several types of term offerings:

  • Single-Term: The course is offered one term. 
  • Dual Term: The course is offered both terms. There are two types of dual term offerings:
    • Fall or Spring: The course is offered both terms with the same content and students are only required to take one term. For example STAT W4606 Elementary Stochastic Processes is offered in either term, but students may register for only one term.
    • Fall and Spring: A year-long course in which the first term is a prerequisite for the second term and both terms are required. For example AHIS G9900 Master's Thesis is a year-long course and students must enroll in both terms. Normally credit for year-long courses is not granted until both terms have been completed.

Points: Points are determined by a formula established by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and are based on the number of contact hours with the instructor and the amount of work required outside of class. Per NYSED, one point of credit is granted for each hour (fifty minutes) per week of contact time with the instructor and thirty hours of outside work for the semester. Normally lecture courses carry three points of credit and seminars carry three or four points of credit—depending upon whether there is a sufficient load of independent work to compensate for fewer contact hours and the extra point of credit. Check with your ADA to determine the norm for your department. If the course is something other than a lecture or a seminar, check with the ADA for the point valuations used by the department for similar courses.

Course Title: Please include the full title of the course, which should be succinct. While school bulletins do not have a character limit, the Directory of Classes imposes a limit of thirty characters.

Instructor(s): The full name of the instructor should be included. All instructor names must be included in cases where the course is team taught.

Course Type: These are the most common types of courses:

  • Lecture: Meets twice a week for a total of 150 minutes. It is expected that lecture courses will have a midterm and final exam as minimum requirements, and will include a substantial and appropriate reading load. Lecture classes are usually taken for three points of credit.
  • Seminar: Meets once a week for a total of 110 minutes. It is expected that seminars will require a lengthy final paper and will require more independent work than lecture courses. Seminars are usually taken for four points of credit.
  • Colloquium: Meets once a week for a total of 110 minutes. It is expected that colloquia will require a lengthy final paper. Typically a colloquium entails more faculty presentation than a seminar but more independent work than a lecture. Colloquia are usually taken for four points of credit.
  • Language: Includes any course whose primary purpose is language instruction at the elementary or intermediate level, including conversation courses, even if the course focuses on a particular topic as a medium for language instruction. 
  • Laboratory: Courses may be stand-alone for credit (such as Lab in cell and developmental biology) or attached to another course, usually a lecture, for no credit (such as Experimental psychology: human behavior lab).
  • Fieldwork: Includes courses whose main goal is for the students to work outside of the classroom, normally as a group with instructor oversight. For example, Student teaching in urban schools and Geological excursion to Death Valley, CA are both considered fieldwork courses.
  • Studio: Includes skill-based courses such as Architectural design, I; Ballet, I; Instrument instruction; and Painting, I.

Additional Class Meetings: Please indicate if the course requires meetings in addition to regular class meetings. Note that normally films will be viewed outside of the regular class meeting.

Prerequsites/Corequisites: Corequisites are courses that must be taken in conjunction with this course. Prerequisites are courses that must be completed prior to registering for this course.

Proposed Enrollment Limit: A cap on the number of students in a course is expected for seminars, studios, and language, laboratory, and fieldwork courses and may also be used for lecture courses as needed. An enrollment limit not only serves as a means to control registration in the course, but also provides the Registrar with guidelines for finding an appropriate room for the course.

Enrollment Priority: The Registrar's default is to open all new courses approved by GSAS to all students in GSAS, and all 4000-level courses to GSAS students and undergraduates, unless you restrict or expand registration by identifying specific populations.

In the “Enrollment Priority” section, please indicate the categories of students who may enroll in the course:

  • To expand enrollment to students in schools other than GSAS, indicate eligible schools using the following abbreviations:
GSAPP Architecture LW Law
AR Arts PH Public Health
BU Business PS Physicians and Surgeons
CE Continuing Education SIPA Intl. and Public Affairs
EN Engineering SW Social Work
JN Journalism NU Nursing


  • To limit enrollment to categories of students within GSAS, describe the eligible categories, for instance: master’s students in Statistics or Mathematics of Finance; all graduate students in a specific department; post-MPhil students in a specific department.

If admission to the course will be determined by application, please describe the process used.

Note: Students in a category other than that to which a course is open may register with the instructor’s permission using the Registration Adjustment Form and, in certain schools, a cross-registration form. For example, MATH G6210 is limited to students in GSAS, graduate students in Engineering, and SIPA students, but with specific permission an undergraduate may register in it.

Requirements: Please indicate what percentage of the grade will be based on each requirement. For courses open to undergraduates, it is expected that some graded work will be required prior to or around the midterm date of the semester (even in seminars) so that students may have some idea of how they are doing in the course. In no case should 100 percent of the grade be based on end-of-term work. 

Depending on course type, typical components of course requirements include the following:

  • Attendance: A policy on absence should be provided on the syllabus.
  • Participation: Provide clear guidelines regarding expectations, as well as evaluative feedback throughout the semester.
  • Examinations: Final examinations must be administered during the exam period. 
  • Presentations: Convey feedback on any student presentation.
  • Weekly readings: Be sure to assign readings that correspond to the workload expectation of the course. For a three-point course, students are expected to conduct an average of six hours of work outside of the classroom. For a four-point course, students should conduct eight hours of outside work. 
  • Written work: Students should receive timely evaluations of their written work.

The instructor should include the following attachments to the form:

  1. syllabus that contains the following information:
    • course and instructor information
    • course description, overview, and goals
    • course requirements and grading (include weighting of assignments and deadlines). A lecture course should minimally require a midterm and final exam. A seminar should minimally include a lengthy final paper as well as a graded outline or draft due around the middle of the term.
    • weekly breakdown of topics and readings, with publication information for readings
    • class and university policies
    • statement on academic integrity. A sample statement can be found here. Please also state the minimum and/or standard consequences for failing to adhere to the principles of academic integrity.
    • statement on disabilities accommodations. A sample statement can be found here. Additional information regarding Disability Services can be found here.
  2. curriculum vitae if the course is being taught by a new faculty member
Directors of Graduate Studies

The Course Approval Request Form requires information from the director of graduate studies in the following sections:

Curricular Planning: Please indicate if the course fulfills any of the department’s curricular planning statement categories, as outlined by the Arts and Sciences.

Signature: Only the DGS, DUS, or department chair/program director can sign the form. By signing this form the DGS/chair indicates that the department faculty have approved this course as one that fulfills a need within the department and is in keeping with the curricular goals of the department.

Departmental Administrators

The Course Approval Request Form requires information from the ADA on the following categories:

Designator and Course Number: Please provide the designator and course number for the course. Please consult with Lenore Hubner in the Registrar’s Office to have the course number entered into SIS and to ensure that it is a valid number. Course designators should be employed as follows:

  • GU: designates 4000-level courses geared toward undergraduate students available to graduate students or geared toward both undergraduate and graduate students.
  • GR: designates 5000 to 9000-level graduate courses taught in the Arts and Sciences. 

Please also see the EPPC Course Prefix and Number Guidelines for reference.

New Instructor: Indicate whether this is a new instructor; if so, a CV must be included with the course materials.

Days/Hours: These must conform to the University Master Schedule of Classes for the course type (lecture, seminar, etc). If you are requesting an exception from the Master Schedule, the course approval packet must include a letter from the DGS or department chair requesting the exception. Please note that exceptions are normally only granted in cases of extreme extenuating circumstances and usually as a single-term exception and not a permanent deviation.