Establishing a Distance Education Certificate or Degree Program
The University of North Carolina General Administration (UNC-GA) requires that all new academic degree programs be approved before a university can establish or offer the degree program. Although new degree and distance education programs must be authorized by the Board of Governors, authorization is not required for sequences of degree-credit courses that do not constitute a full degree program, such as certificate and licensure programs, unless the request represents a substantive change as defined by SACS. Electronic notification of their establishment is required, however, so that inventory of these offerings can be maintained and UNC-GA can fulfill federal reporting requirements.
The UNC-GA processes for establishing new distance education certificate and degree programs are outlined at their website. North Carolina A&T State University recommends that this website be studied before beginning the process to plan a new distance education academic certificate or degree program. The Offices of the Provost, Strategic Planning and Institutional Effectiveness (OSPIE), and the Extended Campus will help you to establish and deliver your distance education certificate and degree programs.
A new distance education certificate or degree program can be suggested by any faculty member or group of faculty. Considering the University’s vision, mission and goals established by our strategic planning process, any new certificate or degree program, in general, should be interdisciplinary in nature. The processes outlined below must be followed in order for the Provost to officially request planning for a new distance education certificate or degree program. Below, you will find the required steps to establish your distance education certificate and degree programs.
Establishing a New Distance Education Certificate Program
- Faculty members who wish to develop a new certificate program to be offered via distance education must follow existing procedures for traditional certificate program development which includes approval by the University Courses and Curriculum Committee.
- Once approved by the Courses and Curriculum Committee, faculty must work with the OSPIE to notify UNC-GA. See the process below.
- Notify the Extended Campus.
The Process for Notification of a New Distance Education Certificate or Licensure Program to UNC-GA
- Contact OSPIE to submit an electronic notification for the program. The following information must be submitted:
- CIP code (available from Institutional Assessment & Planning)
- Program title and description
- Required credit hours
- Program type and level
- Specialty code (Note: This is required for teaching licensure programs, and you should consult the Department of Curriculum & Instruction to obtain the correct specialty code.)
- Date of initiation
- Mode of delivery
- Site (indicate “Internet” if the program is online)
- County (indicate “Statewide” if the program is online)
- Whether the program is on-campus or distance education
- If the certificate program will have multiple versions (e.g., both on campus and at one or more distance sites), make a separate program listing for each version.
Establishing a New Distance Education Degree Program
- Faculty members who wish to develop a new degree program to be offered via distance education must follow existing procedures for traditional program development which includes approval by the University Courses and Curriculum Committee.
- Once approved by the Courses and Curriculum Committee, faculty must work with the OSPIE to submit the appropriate documentation for approval to UNC-GA.
- Once the degree program has been approved by UNC-GA for on-campus delivery and you wish to offer it off-campus (face-to-face or online) and the student can obtain 26 to 49 percent of their credits toward a degree program, you must submit a Notification of Intent to Plan a New Distance Education Program Form (Appendix F) to UNC-GA. Faculty must work with the Offices of the Provost, OSPIE, and the Extended Campus to submit the appropriate documentation for approval to UNC-GA.
- In cases where an institution is proposing a new academic degree program (not currently authorized in its Academic Program Inventory [API]) that will be offered both on-campus and off-campus (or, under special circumstances, only off-campus), it should follow the regular procedure for planning a new degree program. However, the notice or request (Appendices A and B) should include information regarding the intent to offer the program off-campus. This is required because the proposed program must be a part of the institution's official API before it can be offered off-campus.
- Distance education programs in which 50 percent or more of a degree program is provided must be authorized by UNC-GA. When you wish to offer 50 percent or more of the program off-campus (face-to-face or online), you must submit a Request for Authorization to Establish a New Distance Education Program or Site Form (Appendix G) to UNC-GA. Faculty must work with the Offices of the Provost, OSPIE, and the Extended Campus to submit the appropriate documentation for authorization to UNC-GA.
- When the program has been authorized by UNC-GA, a communication will be sent to the Chancellor's, Provost's, and OSPIE's Offices, and copied to the Extended Campus and your academic dean.
- The UNC-GA Division of Academic Affairs will maintain a listing of all UNC distance education degree programs (offering 50 percent or more of the degree program off-campus) being planned, as well as an inventory of all authorized distance degree programs. Both will be available electronically. Before submitting any proposal for a distance education degree program, institutions should ascertain whether a comparable program is being planned or offered by another constituent institution and, if site-based, whether such a program is already offered in the proposed county site (whether off-campus or on-campus). Similarly, institutions proposing an “individual access” (electronically mediated) program should determine whether a comparable “individual access” program is being planned or offered by another constituent institution. If this is the case and the institution decides to proceed with planning, it will be expected to make a compelling case for why its proposal does not constitute unnecessary duplication.
UNC-GA REVIEW CRITERIA
In reviewing requests for authorization to initiate degree-related distance education programs, General Administration will consider:
- The impact of the proposed program on the quality and capacity of existing on-campus academic programs at the requesting institution,
- The need and demand for distance education instruction,
- The readiness of the institution to deliver a program comparable in quality and standards to those that are offered on-campus,
- The impact of the proposed distance education instruction on other institutions or agencies in the area (if site-based) and in the state as a whole,
- The compatibility of the proposed distance education activity with the mission and strategic plan of the requesting institution and with the mission and strategic directions of the University of North Carolina, and
- The absence of unnecessary duplication of the proposed program with other face-to-face or distance programs.
Discontinuing a Distance Education Degree Program
Institutions must notify General Administration when approved distance education programs or certificate/licensure programs are no longer active so that they can be removed from the UNC inventory. Please contact the Office of Institutional Assessment and Planning when an approved distance education degree program is no longer offered, and notify UNC-GA's Academic Affairs Division by submitting a Distance Education Program Online or Site Discontinuation Form (Appendix I) to UNC-GA.
To inquire about establishing a distance education certificate or degree program, contact OSPIE at (336) 334-7006 or Dr. Gwen Godard (firstname.lastname@example.org or (336) 285-3810).