Criteria for the Approval of a New Credit Certificate Program | KCTCS

Administrative Policies


Criteria for the Approval of a New Credit Certificate Program

Policy Number: 4.11.1

Current Effective Date: 05/07/2014

Original Effective Date: 05/18/2000

Revision Dates: 05/13/2003, 03/29/2005, 07/24/2007, 12/12/2013, 05/07/2014

Revision Number: 5

Revision Summary:

Responsible Official: Chancellor


KCTCS colleges’ ability to meet the workforce development and training needs of communities
as they evolve and change depends on their capacity to respond to those needs. As workplace requirements differ across industries and communities, so should the credentials awarded to those completing prescribed programs of study. Increasingly, there is a demand for educational programs or “modules” shorter than traditional diploma and associate degree programs. While the approval processes for new certificate programs may vary, they will undergo the same development process as other programs.

  1. In order to be considered eligible for federal financial aid, generally certificates must be 15 weeks in length and 16 credit hours, in the academic year.
  2. In addition, federal regulation 34 CFR 668.8(c)(3) provides that in order for a non-degree certificate program to be eligible for federal student aid funds, the program must prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation.
  3. As regards Perkins funds, Public Law 105-332 states, ‘‘The purpose of this Act (Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Actis to develop more fully the academic, vocational, and technical skills of secondary students and postsecondary students who elect to enroll in vocational and technical education programs.” Features and Characteristics of Certificate Programs

  • Organized program of study consisting of courses designed to meet a defined set of competencies.
  • Qualifies students to take external licensure, vendor-based, or skill standards examinations in the field. If standardized external exams are not available in the field of study, prepares students at skill levels expected of employees in an occupation found in the local economy.
  • Be relevant to the requirements of a diploma or associate in applied science degree in the same or a related field of study.
  • May contain general education courses emphasizing the skills identified in the SCANS report that are critical to entry-level workforce success for persons prepared at the certificate level, and associated with the diploma or associate degree program.

    The Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) identified three foundation skills and five competencies necessary for success in the workplace:
    • Foundation Skills
      • Basic Skills – reading, writing, arithmetic and mathematics, listening, and speaking;
      • Thinking Skills – thinking creatively, making decisions, solving problems, knowing how to learn, and reasoning;
      • Personal Qualities – individual responsibility, self-esteem, sociability, self-management, and integrity/honesty.
    • Competencies
      • Resources – allocating time, money, materials, space, and staff;
      • Interpersonal Skills – working on teams, teaching others, serving customers, leading, negotiating, and working well with people from culturally diverse backgrounds;
      • Information – acquiring and evaluating data, organizing and maintaining files, interpreting and communicating, and using computers to process information;
      • Systems – understanding social, organizational, and technological systems, monitoring and correcting performance, and designing or improving systems;
      • Technology – selecting equipment and tools, applying technology to specific tasks, and maintaining and troubleshooting technologies. Certificate Identification

The primary purpose and features of certificate programs of study are to provide marketable skills. Given the numerous ways that the term “certificate” is used within KCTCS and by other agencies, this program of study should have a unique, readily identifiable label. Program Length

Certificate programs containing the features and characteristics outlined above should generally range from 12 credit hours to 30 credit hours in length. Proposals for programs with fewer than 12 credit hours or more than 30 credit hours should include a compelling rationale for either a shorter or longer program. Program Records and Data Reporting

KCTCS colleges now use two methods of recording programs. CPE and all Kentucky institutions use the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) taxonomy titles and numbering to organize and describe educational programs. This coding system is used to report program data to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

The second method of recording programs uses the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) taxonomy developed by the Department of Labor to organize and describe each occupation found in the workforce. Technical colleges have used the coding system from the DOT to associate instructional programs with occupations.

CIP and DOT classification schemes are designed to serve different purposes. Certificate programs will be assigned the appropriate CIP and DOT codes and recorded on the KCTCS program inventory. Student Assessment and Placement

In conformance with the KCTCS Student Assessment and Placement Policy, the expected entry-level academic achievement must be identified for each new certificate. For some certificates, it may be appropriate to identify academic skills at the same level as is required for associate degrees. Approval and Evaluation Processes

Faculty at the proposing college develop KCTCS Certificates using the same processes as for any other new program. Approval proceeds according to the program approval process with review by the KCTCS Chancellor, approval by the KCTCS President, and ratification by the KCTCS Board of Regents. Once approved, Certificate programs are subject to the same evaluation and review processes as any other academic program.

Submission Categories

Certificates may be derived from existing diploma or associate degree programs, developed in conjunction with a new diploma or degree program, or developed independent of any other program.

  • Submission Category A
    • Certificates not associated with a diploma or associate degree program
    • Certificates associated with a diploma or associate degree program which was implemented more than two years ago and which has not undergone a system-level program review in the past two years
      • Category A – Documentation
        • Local or regional demand for a program of study of this length
        • Curriculum, including identification of new courses
        • Program competencies
        • External licensing or certifying entity
        • Relationship to new or existing diploma or associate degree program; requests for stand-alone certificates must include compelling justification
        • Collaboration with other institutions in the community in developing and delivering the curriculum
        • Anticipated enrollment and completions for next three years
        • Projected implementation date
        • Resources – faculty, learning resources, facilities, equipment

  • Submission Category B
    • Certificates associated with a diploma or associate degree program implemented within the past two years
    • Certificates associated with a diploma or associate degree program that has had a program review within the past two years
      • Category B – Documentation
        • Local or regional demand for a program of study of this length
        • Curriculum, including identification of new coursesProgram competencies
        • External licensing or certifying entity, if different from diploma or associate degree
        • Projected implementation date KCTCS Certificate – Expedited Preliminary Approval

The KCTCS Chancellor is authorized to expedite the initiation of a new Certificate providing that the following conditions are met:

  1. First-level curriculum approval processes are completed:
    • college division, college curriculum review committee, and college faculty;
  2. Full curriculum approval process is completed within four months following the KCTCS Chancellor’s approval:
    • peer review by the Senate Curriculum Review Committee and the Senate Council; final approval by KCTCS college (s).
  3. Unless the Senate curriculum review process and final curriculum approval process by KCTCS college(s) is completed, the certificate shall be offered only as a one-time pilot.
  4. Colleges must be approved to offer the certificate as specified in section – Approval and Evaluation Processes.

Note: Upon recommendation of the KCTCS Chancellor and approval by the KCTCS President, under exceptional circumstances, the pilot may be extended for an additional