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Illinois Board of Higher Education

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Academic Affairs > IBHE Approval & Review > Overview

Please note that the Administrative Rules have been updated, effective December 19, 2017. Please familiarize yourself with this update, as well as the changes in the fee schedule.

Approval of New Institutions and New Degree Programs

The Board staff reviews applications to establish new colleges and universities in the state and applications for new degree programs from public universities, community colleges, and private colleges and universities, including out-of-state institutions. Private colleges and universities that were established in some cases prior to 1945 or 1961 are exempt from submitting their proposals to the staff unless their new programs are to be offered in different Higher Education Regions. The staff also reviews proposals to establish new research and public service centers from public universities.

  • Public Institutions
    The Board of Higher Education approves all new units of instruction, research, and public service, as well as new academic administrative units, for public colleges and universities in the state. The Board also undertakes periodic review of all existing units of instruction, research, and public service to advise the appropriate governing board whether such programs continue to be educationally and economically justified. Both of these activities are initiated at the campus or institutional level and reviewed by the appropriate governing board before being submitted to the Board staff for analysis and presentation to the Board of Higher Education.

    Proposals for new programs and reviews of existing programs for public community colleges and public universities are analyzed in the context of the institution’s mission, focus, and priorities. Budget and planning documents prepared by the colleges and universities are submitted annually to the Board of Higher Education and contain programmatic plans related to institutional objectives.

  • Independent and Out-of-State Institutions
    The Board of Higher Education has statutory responsibility to approve operating authority and degree-granting authority for certain independent and out-of-state institutions operating within the state of Illinois. In addition, the Board must approve all new degree programs proposed by those independent institutions established or beginning to offer degrees after August 14, 1961.

Review of Existing Degree Programs and Authorization to Operate

  • Public Institutions
    Public colleges and universities are required to review all degree programs within a cycle of eight years and to submit a summary of each review to Academic Affairs staff. The reviews can lead to continuation of strong programs, corrective measures to address problem areas, and suspension or elimination of programs.

  • Independent and Out-of-State Institutions  
    The Board carries out ongoing reviews of those independent institutions operating and offering degrees under the Board’s authorization to assure that the institutions maintain the conditions under which the original authority to operate or grant degrees was given. The Board has the power to revoke its authorization if an institution fails to sustain the conditions required by the initial approval to operate or grant degrees.
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