Renaming Majors and Degree Programs

Guidelines for Renaming Degrees or Academic Majors

Advice: Things to Think About When Proposing Name Changes

  1. Proposals to rename academic majors begin with the major or program faculty.
  2. The program faculty will prepare a brief proposal requesting the name change and giving supporting reasons.

    Some common justifications for a change in major name are: that the new name more accurately reflects the curriculum than the old name; that the activities of the program faculty and the training they offer are more accurately reflected by the new name; and that the name of the discipline has changed and consequently the major should be renamed to reflect this change in the discipline. In these situations, program faculty judge that both new and in-course students are best served by the requested name change. The proposal should explain the degree to which in-course students accept the name change. Generally, in-course students accept and use the new program name. In-course students will be permitted to complete the program under the name of the program when they were admitted if they make a request to do so.

    If the proposed name is similar or related to an existing major, program, or department it is especially important that the proposal clearly and explicitly address any issues of overlap. If there are likely to be any concerns about overlap issues, the affected program(s), department(s), school(s) and college(s) should provide letters of endorsement. All affected parties should be made aware of the planned name change in advance and endorsements should accompany the proposal.

    The proposal should specify the intended effective date of the change. Typically, when a major name is changed all currently and subsequently enrolled students will use the new name from the effective date forward. For major programs that want to keep both the existing and newly proposed names fully active, that request should be justified in the proposal. If a request for a major name change is based on a major curricular reorganization, the proposal may be viewed as a request for either restructuring of a major or for a new major. (Both of these actions require UW System and Board of Regent approval, whereas name changes are final after UAPC approval.)

  3. The program faculty will forward the proposal to the school/college level. Following approval at the school/college academic level, the Dean will send the proposal to the Provost. For undergraduate programs, the University Academic Planning Council (UAPC) will consider the proposal. For graduate programs, the Graduate Faculty Executive Committee (GFEC) will consider the proposal. GFEC actions will be ratified by the UAPC. The Provost’s Office will communicate the name change to the Registrar’s Office for action and to UW System Administration for information.

(Adopted by the UAPC, May 2002.)