Planning New Distance Education Programs
Deans are asked to stress the importance of the inclusion of Distance Education staff when they are approached by academic departments with plans to offer distance education programs or modifying existing DE-delivered programs. DE staff will then provide three critical services, as needed:
- Consult on market viability of the program and delivery modality
- Creation of a project plan that encompasses approvals (Locations, SACS, GA, & FA) and strategies for success
- Creation of an initial Recruiting Plan outlining strategies for securing new students to the proposed program
Please keep in mind that all of these take time, and we haven’t even address the actual time needed to recruit students to a new or revised program. All of this usually takes up to a full year, and sometimes longer (Financial Aid alone can take six months or more), so starting early is always the best strategy.
In some cases, new site locations for programs previously approved by the dean will require approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACS, COC) and/or authorization by the UNC General Administration (GA). In these cases, deans will not be asked to approve the program again before the approval/authorization paperwork is initiated; however, they will be asked to approve the final versions of all paperwork to be submitted to SACS and/or to the General Administration for the site approval. The Director of Distance Education will identify which approval/authorization process is required, and the Office of Distance Education will initiate the associated paperwork and work with the academic program coordinator to complete that paperwork.
While every effort will be made to arrange for program delivery in the locations requested by a program, colleges and departments are asked to confer with the Director of Distance Education before selecting and publicizing any new location. Approvals range from quick for existing locations to complicated and lengthy for new locations. This applies to moving online, too, as approvals are dependent on faculty experience in online education as well as their experience with the program and at the level requested. Again, early inclusion of Distance Education in the planning process can alleviate complications and expedite the process, in many cases.
Approval and Authorization Processes
For information specific to the various approval and authorization processes, please click on the links below:
- SACS, COC Approval Procedures
- General Administration Authorization Procedures
- U.S. Dept. of Education (Financial Aid) Approval for Sites and Programs
Projections and Funding
Distance Education Student-Credit-Hour (SCH) funding is based on projections made in advance of the academic year in which the funding is received. Since SCHs produced by distance education programming (and/or courses) in summer are funded by state appropriations, departmental program/course projections must include all summer term distance education courses (on campus summer courses are not included in the projections).
The process used to project student-credit-hours (SCH) for distance education program is a separate, different process than the one used for courses offered on the main campus. Deans are asked at various times throughout the year to gather, from their academic departments, SCH data to support projections and to verify distance education SCH production for current year funding. This process insures that the academic department teaching the course will receive funding to support that activity.