This section provides standard terminology related to international agreements at UNM that involve the granting of UNM credentials, and the related approvals required for these various types of agreements. This information does not address the many agreements that UNM may create related to tuition-sharing, negotiated revenue, general cooperation, etc. The latter agreements have their own approval procedures.

This information should help to streamline the process, while ensuring that appropriate approvals (i.e., approvals that satisfy current UNM policies related to governance and curriculum) are obtained. Adherence to this process will generate agreements that better serve UNM students and faculty.


The following standard terminology clarifies the types of approvals required under various scenarios. The following three agreement types have been identified:

Articulation Agreement – Course-for-course transfer agreements between two institutions in different countries. These agreements may involve a specified set of courses that will be offered during a given term, and then transferred in bulk to the other institution. Each institution’s faculty retains complete control of its respective program.

Dual Degree Program Agreement (a.k.a. double degree) – A degree program that is designed and delivered by two or more partner institutions in different countries. A student receives a credential from each of the units or partner institutions.

In a dual degree program, students work to earn two different university degrees in parallel at different institutions. The degree program is generally set up to allow students to complete the degree requirements for both degrees in less time than it would take them to earn each degree separately. This is normally accomplished by sharing certain degree requirements between the two programs, and that are not direct course-for-course transfers. That is, satisfaction of a degree requirement in one program may also lead to satisfaction of a degree requirement in the other program, without any additional work. Success in completing the program will result in both degrees being recognized on a student’s transcript.

Joint Degree Program Agreement – A degree program that is designed and delivered by two or more partner institutions in different countries. A student receives a single credential endorsed by each institution.

Joint degree programs allow students to earn a single degree from multiple institutions. Typically, this is accomplished by combining two different majors (or emphasis areas), or by sharing the program’s administrative structure across two different administrative units.

For instance, a joint degree program might be administered across two different universities in different countries. The program is considered “joint” if it is jointly administered by units within each university. That is, if oversight of the curriculum, assurance of consistency in the level and quality of instruction and in expectations of student performance, or the establishment of academic qualifications for instructional personnel, is shared between the institutions, then the degree program is considered “joint.”

Furthermore, if any control over student progression in a program is ceded to another institution, then the program is considered jointly administered. For instance, if a program agrees to accept the Ph.D. qualifying or candidacy exam from another, in place of its own, then the program is jointly administered.

However, if the two academic institutions are simply working to facilitate transfer, and the faculties of the respective programs retain complete control over their own curricula, admissions processes, etc., then this would NOT be considered a jointly administered degree program.

Approval Processes

Figure 1 provides a flowchart that details the types of approvals that should be obtained in order to satisfy applicable policies. The policies that apply are described in Section 3. 

The flow along the top corresponds to articulation agreements. Note that the approval authority for these agreements typically resides at the program level. More specifically, because articulation agreements, by their nature, generally do not involve changing the degree requirements associated with a program, they generally do not require Faculty Senate or Board of Regents approvals. If, however, an articulation agreement involves accepting credits in order to satisfy degree requirements, and these credits correspond to courses that do not exist at UNM, then according to the Faculty Handbook (see Section 3) Faculty Senate review is required. 

In any event, for articulation agreements, the appropriate curricular authority within the academic unit should endorse the agreement. For instance, within a single academic program, one would expect that a department-level curriculum committee, or a department-level administrator (Chair or Associate Chair) has reviewed and endorsed the agreement. That is, the unit that is providing the credits should approve the agreement.  Program-level admission and advisement staff must be notified to ensure a smooth implementation process. If the agreement is across multiple programs at the college level, then it is expected that a college-level curriculum committee, or a college-level administrator (Dean or Associate Dean) has reviewed the agreement, in addition to the appropriate department-level authorities.  Similarly, if the agreement crosses college boundaries, then the Office of Academic Affairs should be included in the approval process. 

Note that in the case of the need to “elevate” an agreement, e.g., for ceremonial purposes, so that the signatories are at the same administrative level, higher-level signatories will be accommodated. However, the formal approvals required for a particular type of an agreement should still be obtained, as they serve as the formal approval mechanism.  Specifically, obtaining the signature of a dean or provost on an agreement does not preclude the need to obtain approvals from the appropriate authorities within the academic programs that are affected by the agreement. The program/faculty sponsor should ensure proper review of the agreements within the home department/school. 

Both dual and joint degree agreements require a higher level of scrutiny by the institution, and we may also be required to notify our institutional accreditor. The type of approval required for dual degree program depends upon the details of the agreement. If the agreement involves the “double counting” of degree requirements between two programs, and the relevant courses exist at UNM, then approval is at the program level. If, however, the agreement includes accepting credits in order to satisfy degree requirements, and these credits correspond to courses that do not exist at UNM, then according to the Faculty Handbook (see Section 3) Faculty Senate review is required. It is the responsibility of the program/faculty sponsor to assess and identify courses at the partner institution that will transfer to satisfy specific degree requirements. 

In the case of joint degree agreements, a new program is being created, and therefore, according to policy (See Section 3), Faculty Senate and Board approvals are required.

Applicable Policy

The Board of Regents (Board of Regents Policy Manual Section 5.1) delegates actions related to major curricular changes to the faculty. This policy stipulates that the Board, following review and action by the faculty, must formally approve the creation of any new degree programs. In order to comply with this policy, the UNM Faculty Senate formed a Curricula Committee whose responsibilities include (UNM Faculty Handbook A61.7: Curricula Committee) the review of all proposals for both minor and major changes to academic programs. The recommendations of this committee are transmitted to the Faculty Senate for approval. Only major changes, and in particular the creation of a new program or the termination of an existing program, are subsequently transmitted to the Board for approval. 

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC), UNM’s institutional accreditor, requires notification (in some cases prior approval) when certain types of agreements are created. The general principle is that the HLC should be notified if UNM cedes any portion of its authority over an academic program, or if it outsources any portion of a program’s instruction, support or administration. The applicable policies in this case include HLC Institutional Change (INST.F.20.040). This policy describes the types of arrangements requiring either commission notification or approval. 

The HLC also articulates policy related to assumed practices (CRRT.B.10.020). A pertinent assumed practice is HLC Assumed Practices B.1.B, which details the minimum number of credits that must be taken at the home institution.