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Higher Education Coordination Commission

Community College Program Approval

Oregon’s 17 community colleges regularly develop new academic degree and certificate programs to keep up with emerging fields and to fulfill local, state, and global needs. The information here can help you learn about the program approval process and, if you are a community college partner, find guidelines.

The Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) is the final step in the process of new program approval at the community colleges. HECC approval is needed for new Career and Technical Education (CTE) academic programs, including certificates and associate degrees, as directed in Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 341.465.  In addition, the HECC manages the review process for proposals of new Applied Baccalaureate programs at the community colleges, as directed in ORS 341.013. For more information on HECC authorities in statute and administrative rule, see the Community College Policy and Process Book linked to below.

After the institution processes are complete, programs are proposed to the Commission for their consideration for approval. This is done at regular public meetings of the Commission.

Prospective students interested in new programs should check their local community college’s website for updates on program start dates.

Public Institution Resources – Process and Forms

The academic program approval process for CTE is a partnership between the HECC Office of Community Colleges and Workforce Development (CCWD) and Oregon's community colleges.

Prior to approval by the HECC, the community colleges work with their institution leadership and governing boards on new program proposals at the individual institution level. CCWD staff work with college administrators on the process and policy guidelines for submission to the Commission.

For more information on HECC authorities in statute and administrative rule, see the Community College Policy and Process Book linked to below. The CCWD Policy and Process Book is a comprehensive resource to assist college instructional teams with state policies and processes related to academic programs.

Read the 2023 Oregon Community College Policy and Process Book.

Forms and Resources  

The first step in processing a request for a course or program approval from the state is obtaining access to the CCWD program and course approval system, named Webforms. Access can be requested through your college's curriculum office point of contact. Other forms and resources are below.

Stay Engaged on Program Approval

See the HECC upcoming public meeting materials and past meeting materials for information on Commission agendas and minutes. Recent program approvals are also announced in HECC newsletters on a regular basis.