Designing the Course
Helpful Terms & Definitions
Program: major or curriculum leading to a degree or advanced certificate. The educational requirements of a program must be registered with the New York State Education Department. The program title of a student's declared major appears on his/her transcript.
Concentration: significant sub-area of a program approved by the New York State Education Department. The title of a declared concentration appears on the transcript.
Specialization: less formal sub-curriculum, usually constituted through electives by advisement rather than actual preset requirements; it is not indicated on the transcript.
Dual Degree Program: typically a B.S./M.A. within the same school or between two schools that is specifically registered with the New York State Education Department and that results in two degrees awarded. The combined curriculum often allows students to reduce credits and time to degree completion. The title of a student's declared dual degree program appears on his/her transcript. The student may be registered in both schools at the same time.
Joint Degree Program: combined curriculum that is registered with the New York State Education Department and for which two academic units contribute to the educational requirements that lead to one degree awarded.
Standard Course: course that the relevant department(s) have approved for formal listing in the official documents of the University—for example, catalogues and University web pages. It may be offered by the relevant department(s) on an indefinite basis. The course proposal form, including a sample syllabus, must be reviewed and approved by the department curriculum committee and chair as well as the CCP.
Liberal Arts Core: course of a general or theoretical nature that are designed to develop judgment and understanding about human beings’ relationship to the social, cultural, and natural facets of their total environment. Working corollaries for counting liberal arts courses include:
- Independent of specific application
- Theoretical understandings as opposed to practical application
- Breadth and scope in principle covered
- Not definitely directed toward particular career or specific professional objectives
- Not chiefly "how to" in manipulative skills or techniques
- Not "applied" aspects of a field
Pilot: experimental course lacking official status in the curriculum. It may only satisfy elective credit or excess credit above and beyond degree requirements; it may not substitute as a requirement in a program leading to certification or licensure. The course will be terminated after one semester and must be submitted to the CCP for faculty approval before being re-offered.
Any full-time faculty member, with the approval of his/her department chair, may submit a request for a pilot course to the Academic Program Review Administrator. The request must include course title, student population, e.g., graduate, undergraduate, hours and points, description, and syllabus. A course number will be assigned so that the course may be made available for registration.
(Please note: Due to the academic limitations of pilot courses, the Office of Academic Affairs rarely grants administrative approval and strongly encourages faculty to pursue the standard course approval procedure).
Shadow: technical course such as a studio or workshop in which skills development are offered at the same level and in the same format for both undergraduate and graduate students. A shadow course can only be developed out of an existing skills-based undergraduate course, which sponsors the graduate course. Shadow courses only require administrative approval from the Academic Program Review Administrator.
Umbrella: course format allows for a general focus with different specific topics depending on location, context or module. The umbrella format is useful for advanced, specialized, or global courses that shift in topics/context, but which remain consistent with the general umbrella focus. Advanced courses call for prerequisites; Special courses are limited and serve a specific function. The advantage of the umbrella course is that it allows students to take the course more than once and indicates on the transcript the specific focus of the course thus eliminating the appearance that a student has taken the same course multiple times.
The (umbrella) general focus requires CCP approval and topics may be added by submitting a brief description of the new topic, the change in title (what comes after the colon), and a syllabus to the Academic Program Review Administrator. Department Chair approval is required. The specific topic will receive a discrete number.
Example of a Global Umbrella Course
Food and Culture carries the broad description:
Study of the complex interactions between food and culture, the effects of cultural factors on dietary practices, and the cross-cultural exchange of dietary practices, beliefs, and foods between the United States and countries throughout the world.
The focus of this course will remain "the interactions between food and culture", but the topics will be influenced by the context of the global site. For example, this course can be offered in different global sites and is repeatable, e.g., Food and Cultures: New Orleans, Food and Cultures: Paris, Food and Cultures: Shanghai.
Example of a Special/Advanced Umbrella Course
Special Topics in Visual Culture and Cultural Studies refers to specific modules:
This umbrella course is designed to examine specific topics within the field of visual culture, one of the core areas of focus in the MCC MA program. Incorporates historical theoretical frameworks and situates contemporary readings in relation to genealogies of the field. Specific themes may include globalization and memory; visual culture and eco-criticism; the visual culture of science and technology; visual culture, diaspora, and postcolonialism; the politics of visual display; the history of screen; global flows and visual culture; and visuality and modernity.
The faculty agreed that the field of Visual Culture and Cultural Studies is too large to be covered by one course, and that students do not need to be exposed to each topic covered by its scope. The different topics are modules of Visual Culture and Cultural Studies.
MCC-GE.2401 Special Topics in Visual Cultureand Cultural Studies: Visuality and Modernity
MCC-GE.2402 Special Topics in Visual Culture and Cultural Studies: The Political History of Visual Display and Respresentation
MCC-GE.2403 Special Topics in Visual Culture and Cultural Studies: Visuality and Globalization
What key elements should the syllabus include?
The syllabus serves as a contract between the instructor and the student, and it should reflect clear expectations and policies. Syllabi must be formatted well with clear distinctions between each element.
All syllabi must include the catalogue description, learning objectives/outcomes, list of required and/or recommended readings, and assignments and their weight towards the final grade. All full semester class syllabi must reflect a 15 week semester. In addition, all syllabi must include information about academic integrity and support for students with disabilities (statements found at the bottom of this section).
Course descriptions should not exceed 547 characters including spaces. Descriptions should state, without using jargon, the course focus and the topics to be covered.
Student Learning Outcomes
Student Learning outcomes are statements that specify what learners will know or be able to do as a result of a learning activity. The key word is DO and the need in drafting student learning outcomes is to use active verbs. Outcomes describe a desired condition such as knowledge, skills, or attitudes that need to be fulfilled.
Three characteristics of student learning outcomes:
1. The specified action by the learners must be observable.
2. The specified action by the learners must be measurable.
3. The specified action must be done by the learners.
An ultimate test when writing a student learning outcome is whether or not the action taken by the participants can be assessed. If not, the outcome probably does not meet all three characteristics:
1. Who is to perform;
2. What action they are to take;
3. Some result that must come from their action.
An unclear learning outcome is often an outcome that represents an element of the course or the curriculum rather than actions the students will generate, e.g., "Students will write case studies of social service agencies." This outcome describes what students will do but not the result of the action. A better learning outcome would be: "Students evaluate two social service agencies using the case study method."
Effective student learning outcomes can be measured:
- Unclear learning outcome:
Students will understand three main reasons for participating in volunteerism.
- Clear learning outcome:
Students will list three reasons for participating in volunteer opportunities.
- Unclear learning outcome:
Students will develop an appreciation of cultural diversity in the L.A. area.
- Clear learning outcome:
Students will summarize in writing their perceptions of cultural diversity on campus.
Since the learner's performance should be observable and measurable, the verb chosen for each outcome statement should be an action verb that results in overt behavior that can be observed and measured. For reference, please consult this list of action verbs for student learning outcomes
Required and Recommended Readings
Instructors are strongly encouraged to define their attendance and participation policies, especially with regard to excused and unexcused absences and criteria for participation. Assignments should be descriptive in terms of length and scope (written assignments should be defined as review, analysis, research, etc.) Instructors should include a grading rubric outlining the criteria for the final course grade.
A sample syllabus is available for download here
For a sample grading rubric, click here
Statements to include concerning academic integrity and support for students with disabilties:
All students are responsible for understanding and complying with the NYU Steinhardt Statement on Academic Integrity. A copy is available here
STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
Students with physical or learning disabilities are required to register with the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities at 726 Broadway, 2nd Floor, (212-998-4980) and are required to present a letter from the Center to the instructor at the start of the semester in order to be considered for appropriate accommodation.
What is the credit to course hour policy?
Steinhardt follows the following credit to course hour formula:
Undergraduate Points (0000 and 1000 level courses)
Weekly Class Meeting
Graduate Points (2000 and 3000 level courses)
Weekly Class Meeting
*Applicable only to baccalaureate programs in Media, Culture & Communication and Applied Psychology
What types of courses may be offered?
Apart from standard courses, faculty may also propose pilot, shadow and umbrella courses. Please click to see the definitions of each since some types of courses have restrictions on their use.
What are the guidelines for creating a course title and description?
Since transcripts and the online student registration system limit course titles to 65 characters including spaces, which are often abbreviated, it is best to craft course titles that easily convey the focus/topics of the course without jargon.
Course descriptions should not exceed 574 characters including spaces. Descriptions should state, without using jargon, the course focus and the topics to be covered.
Can a course be pass/fail and for a grade?
No, a course should be either pass/fail or listed for a grade. Students may opt to take a graded course pass/fail with permission of an advisor. The student must complete and process the appropriate form to declare a graded course pass/fail. A student in an assigned pass/fail course cannot opt for a weighted grade.
Can a course have both pre-requisites and co-requisites?
Yes, as long as these are identified separately. Requisites must be in the form of an identifiable course number, i.e. ARTP-UE 1xxx.
- What is the procedure for proposing a new course?
Who may propose a new course?
Any full-time tenured or tenure-track professor or clinical faculty may propose a new course.
What is the role of my department's representative to the CCP? As a proposer, do I attend CCP meetings?
The department CCP representative is responsible for the following:
- guiding colleagues through the proposal process, e.g., answering questions about the forms and procedures
- ensuring review and approval by the department curriculum committee and department chair prior to submission to the CCP
- reporting the CCP’s comments to the department chair and course proposer.
Course proposers are not required to attend the CCP meeting but may decide to do so after consulting with the department CCP representative.
How will I know if the course has been approved? How is a course number assigned? How is the course entered in Albert so students can register?
The Office of Academic Affairs reports all approved new courses to Steinhardt’s Director of Registration Services.
The Director of Registration Services assigns a course number and lists the course on the University Inventory of Courses, allowing for student registration through Albert.
Registration Services is also responsible for emailing the assigned course number to the proposer, the department CCP representative, the department chairperson, and the department administrator.
The proposer and the department administrator may then work together to schedule the course by submitting a Course Schedule Change Form to the University Registrar.
What is the procedure for proposing a new program? How long does it take for a new program to be approved?
Faculty must first consult with the department chair and the Deans of Academic Affairs and Planning and Communication for authorization to proceed with planning. In developing new or revising existing/dormant programs, proposers should complete a viability report and send it to Heather Herrera at email@example.com:
Program proposals need to be vetted by the department, CCP, the appropriate university committees (Undergraduate Program Committee or Graduate Program Committee), and the New York State Education Department. Minor proposals do not need state approval.
For more information about the university program committees, please see their respective sites:
Who may propose a new program?
Full-time tenured or tenure-track professorsor clinical faculty may propose a new program with the approval of their department.
What is the procedure for proposing a dual degree program consisting of existing programs?
Proposers of dual degree programs shaped from existing programs must consult with the department chairs and the Deans of Academic Affairs, and Planning and Communication.
The CCP must review and approve all dual degree programs.
When a proposed program involves more than one school, upon completion of the planning process, the proposer is responsible for acquiring a memo of approval from the deans of the schools offering the programs.
What is NYU's mission statement? Where can I find information on university-wide resources for Self Study Reports?
Steinhardt Mission Statement
NYU Steinhardt advances knowledge, creativity, and innovation at the crossroads of human learning, culture, development, and well-being. Through rigorous research and education, both within and across disciplines, the School's faculty and students evaluate and redefine processes, practices, and policies in their respective fields and, from a global as well as a community perspective, lead in an ever-changing world.