UMass Boston

Distribution Requirements

Propose that a new or existing undergraduate course fulfill one of the Distribution II requirements, namely, Arts (AR), Humanities (HU), Social and Behavioral Sciences (SB), Natural Sciences (NS), Mathematics/Technology (MT), World Languages (WL) and World Cultures (WC)

Proposals are reviewed to ensure coherence in the course offerings at two levels: the department and the university.  (Review at the college level also takes place in the case of a new course, as described below.) The process, the key contact person(s), and the time required for each stage are described below. 

Faculty members sometimes design a new course to fulfill one of the Distribution II requirements. Due to the long delay if one submits the proposal of a new course and awaits full approval before sending through a proposal that the now approved course should fulfill the one of the Distribution II requirements, faculty are encouraged to submit the request for new course approval and the request for Distribution II requirement fulfillment approval simultaneously, using the same One Form. In this case, the faculty member who originates the proposal should alert the committees involved by specifying the simultaneous submission on the One Form. In section A, check the box by “Distribution” and write “This is a new course being simultaneously submitted for Distribution II approval” in the “Other Information” box.  Both the proposal for the new course and the proposal for its fulfillment of diversity requirements must pass through the entire process of approvals.  As described below, the proposal for a new course should be submitted for review by the CLA Academic Affairs Committee at the same time that the proposal is submitted for review by the Distribution Committee. Both approval requests (new course/distribution) follow individual pathways for a time thereafter, although the new course must be approved as a course before it can be approved by the Faculty Council as fulfilling the distribution requirement. 

Departmental Review

The Process:

The process begins when a faculty member completes the one form, gathers the necessary additional materials, and submits the proposal for review. (For assistance, see the directions on the form, the line by line directions, and the Gen Ed overview, Distribution II overview, and Distribution II criteria, in the menu to the left.)  The faculty member should be sure in Section A to check the “Distribution” box on the One Form and in Section B to check “Yes” for the first question, to select “Distribution” from the pull down menu of the second question, and to select the appropriate Distribution II type -- Arts (AR), Humanities (HU), Social and Behavioral Sciences (SB), Natural Sciences (NS), Mathematics/Technology (MT), World Languages (WL) or World Cultures (WC) -- from the pull down menu of the fourth question. The closest matching type may also be selected in answer to the third question about Distribution I, if applicable: this earlier phase of the Distribution requirements only applies to students who matriculated prior to fall 2002. The faculty member should also indicate distribution category and objectives on the appended syllabus. This last step is important to ensure the rationale and features of the requirement are made clear to students and are consistent across all the distribution courses. The departmental review stages vary; some may require submission to a departmental curriculum committee or to the entire department before the proposal can be approved by the chair. 

The Contact Person(s)

Ultimately, the department chair’s signature indicates department approval, so the department chair is the key contact person for questions about this stage. Note: cross-listing a Distribution II course requires the approval of each listed department.

The Schedule:

This stage of approval requires different amounts of time in different departments, because the approval process varies.  Most departments hold faculty meetings, with an agenda set by the chair or an executive committee at a prior meeting, on a monthly basis during the fall and spring terms, so if approval of the entire department is needed, a review can take 1-2 months.

University Review

The Process:

To ensure that the course offerings fulfilling each kind of Distribution II requirement are consistent across the university, all proposals are reviewed by the Distribution Committee, which is itself a subcommittee of the Faculty Council’s General Education Committee. The process begins when an editable word file of the proposal and a hard copy with the department chair’s signature are given to the Distribution Committee Chair, either directly or via the General Education Committee Chair. 

Note:  In the case of a new course, an editable word file of the proposal and a hard copy with the department chair’s signature should simultaneously be given to the CLA Academic Affairs Committee Chair, since the proposal of new undergraduate courses must be evaluated by the AAC committee: 

Some departments expect the faculty member originating the proposal to submit the proposal; in others, the chair submits all approved proposals on a monthly basis. In either case, the chair of the Distribution Committee communicates with the faculty originator (named in the first box on the form) concerning any necessary changes spotted during the review. Once approved by the Distribution Committee, the proposal is given to the General Education Committee (GEC) chair. The GEC chair confirms the approval, seeks the approval of the Associate VP for Undergraduate Studies, and then submits a motion to the Faculty Council Executive Committee for placement on the next Faculty Council (FC) meeting agenda. If the proposal is approved by the FC, the proposal is sent to the Provost.  If the Provost confirms the approval, the fully approved course/course change is sent to the Registrar to be entered into the WISER system, so it can be scheduled. The Provost’s Office simultaneously sends the fully approved proposal to the Division of Marketing and Engagement to be added to the next iteration of the printed course catalogue (released on 3-year cycles). Currently, there is no regular practice for notifying the faculty originator of full approval.    

Note: In the case of a new course, the GEC chair will wait until the course has been approved at the collegiate level before coordinating any differences and submitting the joint proposal (new course and Distribution II fulfillment) for FC review. 

The Contact Person(s)

The Distribution Committee Chair, the General Education Committee Chair, and the Associate VP for Undergraduate Studies are the key contact persons for questions about this stage.

The Schedule:

Initial action on the part of the Distribution Committee may take 3-4 weeks.  Submissions for FC review must be made 2 weeks in advance of an FC meeting, and the FC meets on a monthly basis during the Fall and Spring terms.  Approval by the Provost’s office typically happens within 2 weeks. 8-10 weeks is typical for the entire process, but it may take longer, depending on meeting schedules, whether the reviewers need to recommend significant changes before approval, and whether an unusual amount of proposals are received simultaneously.