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Undergraduate Course Request Process

This webpage provides guidance for authoring and submitting a Course Request Form (colloquially known as a "CRF") for an undergraduate course. The process differs at the graduate level. Pending development of a similar resource, please see the relevant graduate policy , and/or contact your school's instructional support manager.


Overview of CRF Process

Very generally, for undergraduate courses, the course request process involves the following:

  1. A Senate faculty member develops the course outline .
  2. The faculty member completes and submits the CRF form (at least 1 month prior to the registrar office's deadline ).
  3. The faculty member or Bylaw chair notifies the school instructional support manager that the CRF has been submitted.
  4. The faculty member addresses proposed modifications identified by preliminary school and assessment staff review.
  5. A vote by the relevant faculty (e.g., Bylaw 55 unit) no later than two weeks prior to the deadline.
  6. Review by the school's curriculum (or designated) committee.
  7. Review by the Registrar's office.
  8. Review and approval, following clarifications or revisions as necessary, by Undergraduate Council.
  9. The school instructional support manager notifying the faculty CRF author and relevant school committees that the CRF has been approved.

To learn more about these stages, including expectations, resources and processes, use the links under Topics below.

This webpage consolidates information available in Academic Senate policies and guidelines, including the policy for submitting undergraduate CRFs, the policy for submitting graduate CRFs, and guidelines for developing undergraduate Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs) and Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs).

Required Elements of an Undergraduate Course Request

As per Academic Senate policy , a complete Course Request for a new undergraduate course includes

1. A completed Course Request Form.

Examples of approved Course Requests are available here.

2. A Course Outline

The course outline establishes the framework for a syllabus, but differs from a full syllabus in that it provides an overview of the general nature and subject of the course without delving into specific lectures, readings, or assignments. Some faculty prefer to submit a complete syllabus.

According to policy , a complete course outline includes the following:

  • A summary of course content, sometimes referred to as “Course Description.”
  • Learning goals
  • Course learning outcomes
  • How those course learning outcomes connect to the program or degree outcomes
  • For courses counting towards General Education, includes how the course addresses three or more of the Guiding Principles for General Education at UC Merced
  • Grading tools (e.g. types of assignments, exams, grading policy)
  • Format of the course (e.g. lecture, lab, practicum, etc.)
  • Topics the course will cover
  • Types of reading (e.g., textbooks, novels, essays, journal articles, etc.)
  • Conjoined courses will require a full syllabus.

Special Cases

  1. Conjoined courses are courses taught concurrently as an advanced upper division undergraduate course and an introductory graduate course. Each conjoined course must have its own CRF, with each CRF indicating the corresponding conjoined course. The CRFs for the graduate course must clearly differentiate the performance criteria, requirements, and goals for undergraduate and graduate students. Each conjoined course must be reviewed and approved by the relevant Senate committee, with Undergraduate Council (UGC) reviewing and approving the undergraduate version of the course, and Graduate Council (GC) reviewing and approving the graduate version. As per policy , a proposal for a graduate course, including conjoined courses requires a complete syllabus (not the course outline required by UGC) . For assistance, contact Angela Krueger , the Graduate Assessment Coordinator.
  2. Cross-listed courses are undergraduate courses with different prefixes, names and/or course numbers but are offered as the same course. Each cross-listed course must have its own CRF, with each CRF indicating the corresponding cross-listed course. Each co-listed course must have the same course requirements, number of units, prerequisite courses, course description, and anticipated resources. For example, Biological Sciences and Earth Systems Science sometimes have co-listed courses. [ BIO 148/ESS 148 ]
  3. Revisions or modifications to an existing course are proposed and approved by submitting a new CRF. In the indicated section on the CRF, briefly explain the reason for the proposed change(s) (e.g., change in prerequisite, update of course description, reason for change in units, etc.). Revised courses should include course learning outcomes in the course outline. Some older CRFS may not be in the UC Merced's CRF Management System . For a copy, please contact the relevant member of your school's staff .
  4. CRFs for distance or blended courses, including but not restricted to online courses, require completion of a set of supplemental questions available on UGC's resources website.

The CRF Development and Approval Process

The process by which CRFs are reviewed and approved differs slightly by school. As possible, these distinctions are identitied below.

  1. Faculty initiate course requests. To do so, login to UC Merced's CRF Management System using your UC Merced net ID. Complete the form and upload your course outline, ensuring the CRF and course outline meet all policy requirements . For information on the value of a course in units, please see the campus' credit hour policy . You can complete the form in stages, leaving the entered material as a "Draft" in the CRF system. At this juncture, please feel free to contact your School's assessment specialist for support with developing learning outcomes or other aspects of the course outline.
  2. Once the CRF and outline are complete, you can then enter the CRF and course outline as "Submitted". ("Submitted" refers to the placement of the CRF in the CRF management system. It does not refer to the CRF being "finalized" or approved by the neccessary campus bodies.) You or your By-law Chair should then notify the staff member who manages the CRF process for the school that a CRF has been submitted.
  3. Once submitted, the school's CRF manager confirms that all required fields in the online CRF are completed appropriately (e.g. the number of units are identified, the course number is not already used by an existing course, etc.).
  4. The assessment specialist reviews the assessment-related component of the CRF and course outline, and contacts the instructor with any feedback in relation to guidelines and policy . This includes the course goals and learning outcomes, their relationship to the Program Learning Outcomes, and as relevant alignment with the Eight Guiding Principles of General Education (see sections below).
  5. The school assessment staff then notifies the faculty member and/or manager of instruction that her/his review is complete.
  6. The completed CRF is then sent to the Bylaw Chair for a vote by the program's faculty. (A faculty vote may not be required for revisions to an existing course. Please check with your Chair or staff member who manages the CRF process.) The Chair communicates the outcome of the vote to the instructional manager.
  7. Following a yes vote, the instructional manager places the CRF on the agenda for the next Curriculum Committee meeting.
  8. Once approved by the Curriculum Committee, the instructional manager forwards the approved CRF to the Registrar for review.
  9. The Registrar then forwards the CRF to Undergraduate Council (UGC) for review and approval. UGC may ask for clarification or revisions prior to approval.
  10. Once approved, the UGC Senate Analyst notifies the relevaent school instructional manager who, in turn, notifies the submitting faculty member and appropriate school committees. The analyst also notifies the Registrar.

If you have questions about the progress of your CRF, contact the following staff member in your school: Megan Topete , Manager of Instructional Services in SSHA; S hannon Adamson , Curriculum Support Specialist in SNS; and, in SoE, the Academic Support Manager.

If you have problems with the CRF website, please email Engineering's support service.

If you have questions about learning outcomes or other aspects of the course outline, please contact the following staff member in your school: Amy Moffat Manager of Student and Program Assessment in SNS, P enny Paxton , Manager of Student and Program Assessment in SSHA; Corinne Townsend , Accreditation Analyst in SoE.

Potential Delays in the Processing of CRFs

1. Notifications of issues with the documents and/or approvals comes by way of the instructional staff member who manages the CRF system for the school. You should identify this staff member and be sure to open emails in a timely fashion once you have uploaded your documents to the CRF online system. The following can delay your CRFs from moving through and receiving approval from the neccessary campus bodies:

  • The course's number is already taken by a currently exisitng course.
  • The Course Learning Outcomes do not reflect the campus guidelines.
  • The course is designated as a General Education course in a CRF field, but it does not link its CLOs to at least three of the Eight Guiding Principles of General Education (per policy ).

2. Please also note that changes must be completed in the term before they go into effect. Please contact the relevant staff member for your school with questions.

Developing Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)

In keeping with the campus' mission as a student-centered research university, course learning outcomes are part of a student-centered approrach to instruction. They benefit faculty and students in the following ways.

  1. For Faculty, CLOs:
    • Help focus and guide the development of a course, in terms of content, specific assignments, and instructional strategies (pedagogy). Because CLOS specify what students will be able to do at the conclusion of a course, they are a natural starting point for instructional design. In other words, an effective CLO points to the kinds of instructional activities and assessments, both in and out of the classroom, that will support student development of the skills and knowledge described by the outcome.

    • Facilitate connection with the Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs) and development of a coherent program curriculum. CLOs help to contextualize the course in the program's curriculum, from prerequisites through to senior level courses. By helping to identify the course's contributions to a program's curriculum and learning intentions, they can assist in curriculum sequencing that supports development of student skills and knowledge over courses and through time. They can help faculty anticipate what students should know and be able to do when they arrive in their classes, providing a starting point for furthering student development of knowledge and skills.

  2. For Students, CLOs:
    • ​Make transparent the intellectual skills and knowledge students should expect to be able to employ at the end of a course.
    • Cue students to the course's learning priorities, providing a target to guide and prioritize student learning efforts.
    • Set clear expectations for the course. This is particularly helpful to first generation students, a significant fraction of undergraduates at UC Merced.
    • Provide a rationale for course activities and assignments.
    • Provide a language for talking about their learning and abilities.
    • Make the relationship among courses more transparent.

​How do learning outcomes differ from goals?

  • Definition - Goals are broad statements that describe what the teacher intends to provide to students. Goals often describe what students will learn or gain. In contrast, course learning outcomes (CLOs) describe what students know or can do if they have met the goal. In other words, CLOs describe what students will actually do to demonstrate they have met the goal.

  • Approaches – To identify course goals, many faculty use the catalog description, as it is a succinct, general statement about the course, and what students will learn. Other faculty may choose to use a few broad overarching statements about learning, with one or two CLOs that relate to each goal.

  • Examples: See below for examples of the relationship between course goals (what faculty intend to provide) and course learning outcomes (what students will do to demonstrate their learning).

From PH 111:

  • Goal: To provide an introduction to the field of social epidemiology, the major theories, concepts, and perspectives.
  • CLO: Student will be able to describe how social and environmental factors affect health outcomes, including how risk factors are arrayed across different social conditions.
  • Goal: To learn how health outcomes and risk factors are arrayed across different social conditions and social systems.
  • CLO: Students will be able to (a) Integrate different perspectives, research, and skills discussed in class to explain group differences in health and well-being. (b) In writing, clearly analyze these differences in health and well-being.

From ENVE 140:

  • Goals: This course will introduce students to contemporary water resources problems, and provide students with analytical techniques for analyzing and understanding water problems and their potential solutions.
  • CLOs: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Explain contemporary water problems in California;
  2. Perform systems analyses on specified water problems, and interpret hydrologic and geospatial models;
  3. Estimate the potential impact of engineering solutions through risk assessments;
  4. Design an engineering solution for contemporary water management problems;

Examples of useful/meaningful CLOs from varied disciplines:

From Global Arts Studies Program

By the end of the semester, students will:

  1. Design and implement an independent ethnographic research project both ethically and effectively.
  2. Articulate and analyze the major theoretical and practical issues relevant to the discipline of ethnomusicology.


Students will be able to

  1. Identify and explain the key differences between the experimental uncertainty of classical physics and the fundamental uncertainty of quantum mechanics.
  2. Make measurements, report uncertainty and analyze errors, and keep a lab notebook.

Mechancial Engineering

After completion of this course, the students will be able to:

  1. Derive equations of motion for interconnected bodies in multi-body systems with 3-dimensional motion.
  2. Implement and analyze methods of formulating equations of motion for interconnected bodies.
  3. Write programs to solve constrained differential equations for analyzing multi-body systems.
  4. Simulate and analyze all types of static and dynamic behaviors of the multi-body systems including the kineto-static analysis.
  5. Lead team projects in academic research or the industry that require modeling and simulation of multi-body systems.

Resources for developing CLOs:

  1. UC Merced's Senate-approved guidelines for developing learning outcomes.
  2. Iowa State University's resource for developing learning outcomes (which are called learning objectives in this document).

Connecting CLOs to your Program’s Learning Outcomes (PLOs)

  1. UC Merced policy stipulates that CLOs should be linked explicitly to the Program Learning Outcomes for the relevant degree program. This alignment communicates to students and all instructors the role of the course in the larger learning intentions for the major or minor. By doing so it helps promote a cohesive, coherent curriculum. Your program’s Curriculum Map provides this larger context, describing the relationship of each course to the PLOs. If your program’s Curriculum Map needs updating, please contact your program's Faculty Assessment Organizer (FAO) and the assessment specialist for your school .
  1. There are several ways to illustrate the relationship between CLOs and PLOs :
    1. List the related PLOs immediately below the CLOs. [ GASP 133 ]
    2. Identify the related PLOs in parentheses at the end of each CLO statement. Then list PLOs below the CLO section. [ ECON 28 ]
    3. Provide a clear statement below the CLO section, listing all of the PLOs related to the CLOs. [ PH 111 ]

Principles of a Learner-Centered Syllabus


  1. The steps above support a syllabus and course design that is student-centered:
    • Course goals and learning outcomes become the foundation for student learning and success. A student-centered syllabus is written from the perspective of the student so that it not only answers the question of what students need to learn (CLOs), but also the question of to what extent are they learning ( assessments). Implicit in this discussion is also the determination of how students learn. Developing clearly defined course learning outcomes in the context of over-arching program and/or degree outcomes enables an instructor to design classroom activities, readings, and assignments that facilitate collaboration and learning from the perspective of how students learn. Additional campus resources (e.g. Disability resources) that aid student learning should also be included.
  1. Learning and assessment are grounded in a learning and learner perspective:
    • ​ To answer the question, “to what extent are my students learning?” and determine whether teaching methods are effective, instructors need to assess student progress toward course goals and outcomes formally and informally throughout a course, and over the length of a degree program. Results of these assessments will suggest changes to instructional strategies (pedagogies), course assignments, and even learning outcomes that will help students reach increasingly sophisticated levels of achievement.

Applying the Eight Guiding Principles of General Education

If your course is a General Education course, policy stipulates that the course materials support student learning in relation to at least three Principles . These Principles should be represented in the work that students are asked to complete. To communicate this,

  1. Be sure to check the box in the online CRF system that indicates that you want the course to be included in the general education curriculum.
  2. Be sure to illustrate the relationship between your course's curriculum and at least three Principles. There are a couple of ways to do this.
    • List the three Principles that are taught through the curriculum, in a bulleted format, clearly stating how they are reflected in the course. [ PH 111 ]
    • Describe the relevant Principles in a narrative format in the paragraph following the CLOs. [ PHIL 130 ]

Additional Resources

Resources for learning-centered teaching and assessment: