This outline of the process provides a framework for the research conducted while the development of new degree programs is being considered. Individual projects may vary in scope.
The goal of the Academic Incubator is to provide a well-defined place for vetting ideas for new and innovative academic degrees. Most often the ideas reviewed will be interdisciplinary, with curricular expertise spread across more than one college. As each idea comes forward, the Academic Incubator’s Advisory Board will review an idea brief, and determine if further research and possible degree development are to be conducted.
During the development of the idea brief, a review of available articles and other information sources will be conducted. The goal of the review is to gain a clear understanding of both the industry and specific career opportunities that are the focus of the idea brief.
An analysis will be conducted to determine if other institutions currently deliver the degree, or one very similar to the proposed degree. This analysis may be useful later in the research process if, for example, there is a need to review the curricula of competing programs.
An analysis of data will be conducted to determine the level of demand for employees with the proposed degree. The analysis will also identify preferred skills sets, required level and type of education, typical position titles, and largest employers.
Surveys and/or focus groups may be conducted to gather information about the current level of student interest in the degree under consideration. This is especially helpful when early indications are that the proposed program would be delivered at an off-campus location in addition to the main campus.
Working with subject matter experts, board members, and others with strong instructional design and delivery knowledge, information about the technical, laboratory, personnel, and other infrastructure requirements for the proposed degree will be gathered. Based on this information an estimate of financial needs for meeting those requirement will be developed.
Using all available information gathered in the above phases, the Academic Incubator Advisory Board will make a recommendation about proceeding with the development of the degree.
Using the information gathered, one or more persons will be identified who will develop and submit for approval the PCAF (preliminary curriculum approval form). This could, for example, be a current faculty member or an external subject matter expert.
With the curriculum in development, the information gathered to date can be combined with additional marketing information to give those responsible for student recruitment the information they need to successfully launch the program.