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The Office of Higher Education assesses the compliance of public, independent, and proprietary degree-granting institutions and their programs with the standards of quality set forth in law, rule, and regulation. This includes reviewing applications to establish new higher education institutions, major changes to the missions of existing higher education institutions, proposed programs of study, and changes to currently registered programs. Programs registered (approved) by the New York State Education Department are listed on the Department’s Inventory of Registered Programs.

The program registration process considers all significant aspects of an institution’s educational enterprise as it relates to a proposed program. Program registration is the Department’s chief means to ensure that colleges, universities, and professional schools maintain quality standards.

What requires registration?

Registration of a curriculum (program of study) indicates its approval based on quality standards in the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. Section 50.1 (i) of those regulations defines curriculum or program as “the formal educational requirements necessary to qualify for certificates or degrees. A curriculum or program includes general education or specialized study in depth in a particular field, or both.” Section 52.1 requires registration of the following types of curricula at colleges, universities, and professional schools before those institutions may offer them:

every curriculum creditable toward a degree offered by institutions of higher education;
every curriculum leading to a certificate or diploma bearing credit towards a degree;
every curriculum leading to licensure in a profession;
every curriculum for which registration is required by statute, the Rules of the Regents, or any other section of these regulations; and
every curriculum leading to a certificate or diploma offered by a non-chartered proprietary institution authorized by the Regents to grant degrees, except noncredit curricula approved by another State agency for the purpose of licensure by that agency.

(Statutory Authority: Sections 207, 210, 6506, and 6507 of Education Law. See also Section 13.1 of the Rules of the Board of Regents.)

Proposal Submission and Review Process

The submission process and application forms vary according to the category of program being sought. There are three categories of program proposals considered by the Department:

Programs to prepare candidates for teacher, educational leader, or pupil personnel services certification
Programs to prepare candidates for a professional license
All other (general academic) programs

For more information, please see the Department's program registration page.

In general, the Department reviews proposals in the order in which they are received, but it also seeks to allot its efforts equitably across all institutions. Institutions that submit multiple proposals over a short period of time should prioritize their submissions, since a cluster of proposals may not be reviewed in strict chronological order.

If the Department finds that a proposal is incomplete or does not provide evidence of compliance with registration standards or expectations, it advises the designated contact person for the institution. The Department may specify a deadline (typically 30 days) for the institution's response to the noted concerns.

If the institution does not provide an adequate response by the specified deadline, the Department may withdraw the proposal from further consideration. Proposals that are denied or withdrawn by the Department may be revised and submitted at a later date when the institution is able to demonstrate compliance with all standards.