Discontinuance of a University Academic Program Policy

Discontinuance of a University Academic Program Policy


Office of Academic Affairs


Vice Provost





Effective Date:


Implementation History:



Program discontinuance, deactivation, deregistration

Background Information:

Approved by Senate, September 2011


This policy sets out the principles for the review for discontinuance (deactivation or deregistration) of academic programs. Any academic program is subject to the principles and procedures described.


Academic Program: defined in the New York State Education Regulations as the “formal educational requirements necessary to qualify for certificates or degrees [and] …includes general education or specialized study in depth in a particular field, or both.” These academic programs are represented by the program titles under which the state education department has registered the university's degree programs. These undergraduate academic programs are referred to as areas of study or nursing, in the School for Graduate Studies as programs. Other programmatic offerings, such as residencies and concentrations within an area of study or graduate program, are not addressed in this policy.  Locations of the university are not addressed in this policy

Deactivation: suspends the operation of the program while keeping it formally registered with the New York State Education Department

Deregistration: the program is eliminated.


The final authority to make an academic program discontinuance (deactivation or deregistration) decision rests with the president of the university and his or her designee. In the case of program discontinuance, both faculty and administrators are consulted before a final decision is made by the president.

The discontinuation of a program may have significant consequences for faculty and staff, as well as current and prospective students. Consideration of faculty, professional staff and classified staff interests related to such a decision must be consistent with contractual obligations, particularly Article 35 Retrenchment of the UUP contract and Article 22 Employment Security of the CSEA contract. Consideration of student interests is consistent with the SUNY and New York State Education rules requiring the university to provide an orderly, phased transition for students. The university must carefully consider proposals to end a program at the university.

The following criteria are considered in review of programs considered for discontinuation:

  • the need for the program, program quality and effectiveness: data for effectiveness may include trends in numbers of applications, enrollment and graduation rates, and information about the range and quality of studies delivered. Other standard reports or evidence may be considered, such as routine program outcomes, alumni or student surveys, faculty/staffing plan, or other specific reviews. Evidence may include quality-improvement efforts and any evidence of program-renewal strategies
  • the availability of resources to sustain the program at an acceptable level of academic quality: evidence may include areas such as faculty availability, cost effectiveness, the length of time a program has been offered
  • the student and societal needs that the program meets, especially needs that cannot otherwise be met
  • the centrality and contribution of the program to the university. evidence of how the program contributes to a university-wide role beyond student degrees, such as general education or special academic area of emphasis
  • the program’s relationship to the mission of the university.
  • factors and dynamics impacting enrollment and retention of students in the program such as persisting students and graduates: if students leave the program, whether they go to other programs in the university or to other institutions
  • the effect of deactivation or deregistration on overall cost and institutional effectiveness.


The proposal to discontinue a program may originate from an academic administrator and involves input from all levels. A request for discontinuance may come from the faculty of the academic area offering the program, if requested by a majority vote of voting membership of the faculty in the academic area eligible to vote. The academic area is defined as the area of study or the graduate program group led by a program chair or associate dean.

The administrator considering the discontinuance of an academic program will raise the issue with the provost, sharing evidence of previous actions related to the program, and the potential plan for notification of affected faculty and staff and their supervisors of the possibility that the program might be discontinued.

The formal consideration of the discontinuance of an academic program requires a written recommendation to the program faculty, containing information and data to constitute a reasonable rationale for discontinuing the program. It also identifies whether the action should be a deactivation or deregistration. The recommendation includes the following information, except when information is unavailable or inappropriate:

  1. a description of the program and its stakeholders
  2. steps taken by faculty or administrators up to this point to address any of the program continuance issues
  3. student enrollments and head counts in the program and the numbers of students receiving the degree(s) granted in the program in each of the preceding five years. Other data showing enrollment trends and migration of matriculated students to and from the program, or the support role played by the program in other programs or general education.
  4. relevant information from program evaluation material drawn from routine program assessments, accrediting agencies or external consultants. The document may refer to materials readily available or may include copies of other reports or documents, such as program exit materials or employer surveys.
  5. identification of resources required to sustain the program at an acceptable level of quality. This information should include faculty and staff needs as well as facilities, equipment and supplies, and any other financial circumstances and/or issues that need consideration.
  6. identification of the faculty and staff directly affected by the action, including title, tenure/permanency status and location and a detailed plan for the consultation process and the future role of all faculty or other employees currently considered to be part of the program
  7. a detailed plan of the orderly phase-out for students following the SUNY and New York State Education Department Regulations
  8. discussion of the societal and economic needs or lack thereof for the coming decade, supported by available, demographic or economic information, including employment outlook for students with the preparation and the market saturation for similar programs
  9. analysis of the effect on general education or on other programs of the university if discontinued.

The dean, vice provost or provost, after notifying relevant academic administrators, convenes the faculty group directly affected and discuss the recommendation with that group, gathering information that may support or refute the information included in the recommendation. The program faculty have the opportunity to respond in writing to the recommendation, if they so desire.

The recommendation for discontinuation and the response of the program faculty, if provided, is sent to the appropriate standing committee of the Senate for review and concurrence or non-concurrence. The initiating administrator will provide a summary of the factors leading to the recommendation to discontinue the program and will be present at the committee meeting when the final recommendation is discussed. The administrator of the affected program and all members of the program being reviewed for discontinuation will be invited to participate and to provide information and answer questions about the recommendation.

Once the standing committee has responded to the recommendation, the initiating administrator will make a final recommendation. This will be sent to the provost along with the response from the standing committee and the program response.

The provost will review the initiating administrator’s recommendation, along with the program’s response and the response from the standing committee. The provost then makes a recommendation to the president.

Should the provost recommend the discontinuation of any program, the president will review this recommendation. If the president concurs, the Office of Academic Affairs will begin formal notification to SUNY and SED and accrediting agencies as appropriate.

The Office of Academic Affairs identifies and notifies those campus constituents and operational offices.

Applicable Legislation and Regulations

When the university discontinues a program, the State University of New York and the New York State Department of Education procedures and regulations for deactivation and deregistration will apply. 

SUNY Policy Program Deactivation and Discontinuance

SED Section 52.1

Related References, Policies, Procedures, Forms and Appendices

CSEA Agreement Article 22 Employment Security

UUP Agreement Article 35 Retrenchment