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Program Development & Approval Committee (PDAC)

PDAC is a process for development and approval of new programs designed to ensure that they fit Tufts’ mission, promise to be sustainable, and do not duplicate other efforts within the University. The Office of the Provost and the Office of Business Development work as partners to support the development of new programs and help them through the approval process.

To ensure we have a full sense of university offerings and do not run redundant programs, all new academic programs must be proposed to the PDAC, although not all programs will need to complete every step. All new academic programs must have the written approval of the school or college dean or deans. The Provost must approve any new certificate, and new degree programs require the approvals of the provost, president and trustees. If the program includes faculty/scholar/student exchange, or any affiliation agreement or MOU with an institution outside the U.S., institution outside higher education or for-profit educational institution, prior to signing, it must go through an internal review process for affiliation agreements (that can be integrated into the PDAC process) and be signed by an authorized representative of the University.

The process is outlined below. It is designed to streamline the process to allow faculty to focus primarily on the curriculum, teaching and research. Any questions can be directed to PDAC@tufts.edu, which will reach both the Office of the Provost and the Office of Business Development.

Scope: What is an Academic Program?

Academic Programs are broadly defined as educational offerings provided to any population using Tufts resources (including faculty, websites, brand, space, etc.). Each of the following qualify as “Academic Programs” and fall under the scope of these guidelines.

Two other categories are also in scope and described below: (1) substantive changes to existing Academic Programs and (2) Grants, MOUs, or contracts with third parties impacting or soliciting the development or operations of Academic Programs.

Questions about scope and whether an idea is in or out of scope can be addressed to PDAC@Tufts.edu

Definitions of Academic Programs

  • Degree Programs
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Masters Degrees
    • Doctoral Degrees
  • Certificate Programs
    • Certificate
    • Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study
    • Post-Graduate Certificate
    • Post-Bac Certificate
    • Conservatory Certificate
    • Certificate of Completion
  • Expanded Campus Learning Programs
    • Executive Education
    • Professional Education
    • Continuing Education
    • Completion Programs (i.e. AS&E R.E.A.L. Program)
    • Lifelong Learning
    • Open Enrollment Programs
    • Intensives & Workshops
    • Custom Programs
    • 3rd Party Programs
  • International Education Programs
    • Tufts Abroad Programs
    • Short Term Abroad Programs
    • 3rd Party Programs Abroad
    • Faculty-led International Trips
    • Student/Faculty Exchange
  • Minors on Campus Programs
    • Pre-K-8 Programs
    • Pre-College Programs
  • Program Modifications (Substantive Change), for example:
    • Adapt a classroom program to Online (or reverse)
    • Create a new major or track
    • Intensive timeline (e.g., 2-year masters to 1 year, or a 4-month course to 6 weeks)
  • MOU or Contract with Third Party, for example partnerships with:
    • Other Universities
    • For profit companies to develop new programs
    • Companies or universities to fill seats in existing programs
    • Companies to rent space that will substantially impact the availability of space on campus

Process

  1. Letter of Intent

All proposals for new academic programs require a short letter of intent (3-5 sentences), addressed to the provost and sent to PDAC@tufts.edu copying any relevant Deans, EADs, and Department Chairs. A template Letter of Intent is provided here. At this stage, ideas for new programs do not require formal approval from department chairs and school deans, but we strongly recommend that you include them in developing your ideas. Once the PDAC has received your Letter of Intent, we will be in touch regarding next steps within four weeks. Most programs will take 9-10 months from Letter of Intent to final approval and 24 months until the first cohort matriculates. Please see the Timeline section for details on when to submit a Letter of Intent.

For Certificate and Degree programs, the letter of intent will form the basis for conversations between the proposer and the PDAC to help the proposer develop the idea, ascertain its appropriateness to Tufts’ mission, locate potential redundancies with other programs, conduct marketing research, create a business and marketing plan and generate other necessary features of a successful proposal.

For all other Academic Programs, Substantive Changes, and MOUs, the use of and next steps following the Letter of Intent depends on the specific circumstances of the Program type. In some cases, the Letter of Intent may be sufficient for approval once the dean and EAD of the school(s) have signed off. Other cases may warrant a full proposal following the process below.

  1. Consultation with PDAC

The PDAC will meet with proposers to discuss the ideas contained in the Letter of Intent.  If the ideas are consistant with Tufts’ mission, have strong educational and intellectual foundations, have the potential to be financially sustainable or profitable, and do not duplicate other Tufts’ programing, the group will work with proposers to begin developing the proposals.  Support for concept development as well as light market research are appropriate at this point.  The PDAC will also share examples of strong formal proposals approved in the past and any guidelines, policies or processes specific to the type of Academic Program being proposed. The proposers may need to revise their Letter of Intent based on this feedback.

  1. Program Planning Strategy Meeting

The PDAC will convene semi-annual meetings (meeting in interim quarters as proposal volume demands) with deans and EADs to evaluate the updated Letters of Intent, deciding which to invite for formal proposals.  Proposals will be evaluated on a rolling basis, so that proposers not chosen in one round may nonetheless be selected in the next.  If a proposal is chosen, the proposer will be given the go-ahead to proceed to the formal proposal (with further support from the PDAC) by the Dean / EAD of the School.

  1. Formal proposal

When given the go-ahead by the PDAC, proposers should proceed to creating a formal proposal. The PDAC will review with the proposer the specifications for the type of proposal they will be developing and provide guidance and support on the consultations, market research, and approvals required. The PDAC will also facilitate completion of certain pieces of the proposal including the Operating Plan, Financial Statements, and Evaluation Plan.

While a generic proposal template has been included in this document, at the most basic level, proposals should contain the following features:

  • Executive Summary – (Overview, Purpose, Rationale)
  • Program Content – (Structure, Curriculum, Faculty, Admissions, Advising, Student Affairs and Services)
  • Governance – (Accreditation, Faculty Oversight, Student Records, Program Delivery)
  • Administration – (Program Director, Department, School, logistics of Applications, Faculty Hiring, Budget, and Policies)
  • Program Launch – (Key dates around launch, applications / marketing opening, and planned approval timeline)
  • Operating Model – (define how the program will function (qualitative and quantitative)
  • Financial Statements – (3-5 year Income Statement in the standard template)
  • Evaluation plan – (Exit Plan, Evaluation Metrics, Evaluation Frequency, Growth Plans)
  • Appendix (will vary by proposal)
    • Detailed support for any proposal content (e.g., faculty bios, course descriptions, market research, etc.)
    • Evidence of requested consultations:
      • Library Resource Evaluation Form
      • Administrative Planning Consultation Forms (e.g., Marketing, ETS, CELT, Finance, PDAC, Legal, etc.)
  1. Approvals
  • Approvals Required
    • Non-degree/certificate programs: department chair(s), school dean(s), EAD(s), PDAC
    • Certificate programs: department chair(s), school dean(s), PDAC, VP Finance, provost
    • Degree programs: department chair(s), school dean(s), PDAC, VP Finance, provost, Trustee Academic Affairs Committee
  • Conferring Approval
    • Approval from Department Chairs / Deans / EADs is considered to be conferred upon the receipt by the PDAC of a signed Letter of Support, addressed to the Provost, indicating (A) how this program fits into strategic priorities (e.g., academic, research, hiring, financial, administrative, other) and (B) that they understand the proposal, specifically the financial targets and Exit Plan
    • Approval from the Provost and VP Finance is considered to be conferred upon the receipt by the PDAC and all school-level participants of an email indicating approval. Note that the Provost and the VP Finance will not review the proposal until the Letter of Support and Proposal is received from the Dean of the school
    • Approval from the Trustee Academic Affairs Committee is considered to be conferred upon the vice provost’s email notification of the school deans or, in the case of university-wide programs, the appropriate faculty director of a positive trustee vote
  1. Communication
  • Provost’s Council: a quarterly update on the program pipeline will be provided
  • Administrative Council: a quarterly update on the program pipeline will be provided
  • Key Administrative Functions: will receive a notification upon approval of a program and will have ability to view pipeline in University Program Database
  1. Review

The Evaluation Plan section of the Proposal will set-up review timelines for the Program for Academic, Business, and, in some cases, legal or other Administrative functions. The PDAC will work with relevant functional areas to ensure reviews are completed on the stated timelines. Results will be reviewed with Deans and EADs during their regular meetings.

Timeline

Given the time and effort required to complete a formal proposal and the risk to Tufts University if Programs launch with insufficient time for development, Letters of Intent should be submitted to the PDAC as soon as possible. We have developed the below timeline to give a sense of the development timeline:

School Year 2017-18

Earliest first cohort start date for Degree / Certificates (dates will vary for other Program types) Fall 2018 Fall 2018, Spring 2019 preferred Spring 2019 Spring 2019, Summer 2019 preferred
Academic Affairs Meeting for Approval vote

Communication back to participants

Earliest SIS registration start date

Aug 21, 2017 Oct 30, 2017 Feb 5, 2018 May 14, 2018
Deadline to submit materials for Academic Affairs

Approval status provided by Provost and VP Finance

Earliest marketing start date with provisional status

Aug 9, 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Jan 24, 2018 May 2, 2018
Deadline to submit materials to Provost / VP Finance July 9, 2017 Sept 18, 2017 Dec 24, 2017 April 2, 2018
Deadline for Letter of Intent approval at quarterly Prioritization meeting n/a n/a n/a November 2017 Meeting

 

School Year 2018-19

Earliest first cohort start date for Degree / Certificates (dates will vary for other Program types) Fall 2019 Fall 2019, Spring 2020 preferred Spring 2020 Spring 2020, Summer 2020 preferred
Academic Affairs Meeting for Approval vote

Communication back to participants

Earliest SIS registration start date

~Aug 20, 2018 ~Oct 20, 2018 ~Feb 4,   2019 ~May 13, 2019
Deadline to submit materials for Academic Affairs

Approval status provided by Provost and VP Finance

Earliest marketing start date with provisional status

~Aug 8,   2018 ~Oct 17, 2018 ~Jan 23, 2019 ~May 1,     2019
Deadline to submit materials to Provost / VP Finance July 8, 2018 Sept 17, 2018 Dec 23, 2018 April 1, 2019
Deadline for Letter of Intent approval at quarterly Prioritization meeting January 2018 Meeting April 2018 Meeting July 2018 Meeting October 2018 Meeting