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Development Process

The following guidelines should be used when setting up new programs or making changes to existing programs. These guidelines aim to better support schools and departments and to provide a seamless experience for students. This will be accomplished by ensuring key central units are notified early in the process to work in collaboration with the unit to efficiently and effectively implement the program.


Programs that may require lead-time of up to 18 months (in advance of the first admission cycle) are programs that typically require a new structure (see categories below). If a new program has any of the parameters listed below, it may require up to 18 months of lead-time working with key central units to operationalize the program. It is highly recommended that schools/units contact key central units as soon as possible to begin discussions about new programs.

Programs that may need a minimum of 3 months of lead-time (in advance of the first admission cycle) are programs that typically use an existing structure and require less lead-time to implement. Outlined below are the parameters for respective lead-times: 

Lead Time: Up to 18 months*

  • New Calendar, or
  • New Degree (or dual program degree), or
  • New Academic Program, or
  • New Tuition Structure, or
  • Accreditation required for new offering**, or
  • New Location (for >50% of students)

Lead time: Minimum 3 months*

  • Existing Calendar
  • Existing Degree
  • Existing Tuition Structure
  • Program is accredited or falls under an existing accredited program

New Academic Program Checklist

The new Academic Program Checklist is a set of detailed questions to consider when developing and operationalizing a new academic program or making changes to an existing program. The answers to these questions will assist key central offices (listed below) in optimally supporting these processes and will also be determinative of how much time is necessary to support implementation of a new program.  Please forward the completed checklist to Mearah Quinn-Brauner at The completed checklist will be shared with the offices listed below to facilitate initiation of the program. 

Process and Contact Information

If you have questions about completing the checklist, please feel free to contact any of the offices below, they will be able to further assist you with any questions you might have:

  • Office of Budget and Planning – See designated school contacts.
  • Office of Financial AidPhil Asbury,  University Director of Financial Aid (847-491-8557), or Emily Osborn, Director of Financial Aid-Chicago (312-503-6683)
  • Office of Financial OperationsAmanda Distel, Vice President and Treasurer (847-491-7350)
  • Office of the Provost  – Mearah Quinn-Brauner, Senior Director for Strategy and Policy (847-467-5895)
  • The Graduate School – Angela Ripp, Associate Director, Academic Affairs (847-467-4459)
  • Office of the RegistrarJaci Casazza, University Registrar (847-491-4302); Nicholas Tonozzi, Associate University Registrar (847-491-8466)
  • Office of Student Finance – Helen Tsevas, Associate Director, Administration, Student Finance (847-491- 2543)
  • Administrative Systems – Kris O'Brien, Associate Vice President, Administrative Systems (847- 467-4733)
  • Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) – Rachel Krein, Interim Director of OISS (847-491-5613)
  • Health Information Management/Student Health Insurance – Julie Vasfeld, Associate Director, Health Information Management Systems  (847-491-2117); Ivelisse Cintron, Student Health Insurance Program Manager (847-491-5610)
  • Northwestern University Library – D.J. Hoek, Deputy University Librarian for Research and Engagement Dean of Libraries (847-491-2884)

* From first admission cycle

**New offerings that may require Higher Learning Commission approval include new types of degrees (e.g., a master’s program in a school that did not offer one before), new delivery mechanisms (e.g., online degree programs where operating authority has not previously been granted), or degree programs offered at new sites. Please contact Mearah Quinn-Brauner with questions about accreditation requirements.