UMass Boston

First Year Seminar

Propose that a new or existing undergraduate course become a First Year Seminar (FYS) or Intermediate Seminar (IS)


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 usually design a new course to fulfill FYS or IS requirements; the adaptation of an existing course for this purpose is very rare. 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 FYS or IS requirements, faculty are encouraged to submit the request for new course approval and the request for FYS or IS 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. Check the “Seminar” box in Section A, place a “G” prefix before the course number, and write “This is a new course being simultaneously submitted for approval as a[n] [FYS or IS]” in the “Other Information” box. In Section B, check “Yes” for the first question, and select “First Year Seminar” or “Intermediate Seminar” from the pull down menu of the second question. Both the proposal for approval of the new course and the proposal for its fulfillment of FYS or IS requirements must pass through the entire process of approvals. As described below, the proposal should be submitted for review by the CLA/CSM’s Academic Affairs Committee at the same time as submission to the Seminars Assessment Committee. Both approval requests (new course/FYS or IS requirements) 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 FYS or IS 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, seminars overview, and seminars criteria, in the menu to the left.) The faculty member should be sure to check the appropriate boxes on the One Form (see previous paragraph) and to indicate the seminar type 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 seminars. 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)

Consultation with the seminar coordinators from the start is strongly recommended. Ultimately, the department chair’s signature indicates department approval, so the department chair is also a key contact person for questions about this stage. Note: cross-listing a seminar 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.

Return to Page Start

University Review

The Process:

To ensure that the course offerings fulfilling the seminar requirements are consistent across the university, all proposals are reviewed by the Seminars Assessment Committee (SAC hereafter), which is a subcommittee of the Faculty Council’s General Education Committee (GEC hereafter). 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 SAC chair, either directly or via the GEC chair. 
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 SAC chair communicates with the faculty originator (named in the first box on the form) concerning any necessary changes spotted during the review.  The faculty originator should also expect direct feedback from the relevant seminar coordinator (FYS or IS); contact with the coordinators from the start is recommended. When the proposal secures SAC approval, the proposal is sent to the GEC chair.

Note: In the case of a new course, as soon as the proposal nears SAC approval, an editable word file of the proposal and a hard copy with the department chair’s signature should be given to the CLA AAC Chair, since the proposal of new undergraduate courses must be evaluated by the AAC committee before official SAC approval: see full description of the process for evaluating new undergraduate courses by clicking here. The GEC chair confirms the SAC 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). FC’s associate chair and secretary notifies the faculty originator of the full approval.

Note:  In the case of a new course, the SAC Chair will wait until the course has been approved by the AAC before coordinating any differences and submitting the joint proposal (new course and FYS/IS fulfillment) for simultaneous GEC and FC review. 

The Contact Person(s)

The Seminars Assessment Committee chair, the IS coordinator or FYS coordinator, the General Education Committee chair, and the FC’s associate chair and secretary are the key contact persons for questions about this stage.

The Schedule:

Because course development is an intensive process for these courses, a full fall/spring semester is typically necessary for review. Faculty members should be aware that there are two pilot course rubrics (for FYS courses and for IS courses), which allow the courses to be scheduled for upcoming semesters while the instructor is still developing the proposal in conjunction with the seminars coordinators and undergoing the approvals process.