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Template to Develop a Proposal for Offering a Graduate Degree or Certificate Off-Campus/Online

Units intending to offer a graduate degree or certificate program off-campus in a new geographic location or in an online format must complete each section of this program proposal. Assistance in completing the proposal form and assuring consistency with state and University policies should be sought through the Graduate College early in the development process. The Graduate College "Policy for the Off-Campus/Online Delivery of Graduate Degree or Certificate Programs" should be consulted for details when developing a proposal. Definitions from that document should be applied to this content as well. 

While responding to the Items to be Addressed in Online/Off-Campus Graduate Degree or Certificate Program Proposals, proposals must address the following points. (A form is also available.)

  1. Program Identification
    1. Name of department.
    2. For a certificate list the title, or for a degree describe degree programs by concentration (if applicable), major and degree.
    3. List the program’s common name.
    4. Geographic location or delivery mode/technology.
    5. What is the proposed starting date? Programs are not permitted to enroll students until after final approval has been granted. All program materials, regardless of the media used, must include “pending final approval” until that time.
  2. Program Purpose
    1. What are the program's objectives?
    2. What educational need(s) will the program address?
    3. How were these needs assessed?
    4. Describe the clientele to be served by the program, including such characteristics as expected age of enrollees, special academic or vocational experiences, and other appropriate descriptive information.
    5. How many students are expected to enroll in the program, and on what basis is this projection made?
    6. What are the ideal and maximum enrollments in the program, taking into consideration existing resources and maintaining program quality?
    7. In particular, how does the program contribute to the unit's teaching, research, and service missions, and will that be sustained in the future?
  3. Relationship to Existing Program
    1. Are there similar programs offered in the same geographic location or online by other Urbana-Champaign units, other University of Illinois campuses, or other postsecondary institutions? If so, please identify these programs.
    2. If similar programs are offered, please answer the following.
      • Why is the proposed program needed in addition to the existing program? (Highlight needs currently not being met.)
      • Describe the relationship between the proposed program and existing programs offered on campus.
      • Will this cohort interact with the on-campus cohort of this program?If yes how, and if not, why not?
    3. List the benefits the new program will provide to existing programs, including non-tangible benefits.
  4. Faculty
    1. How will the academic unit provide information about the design and purpose of the program, characteristics of the students, and the unique circumstances of the online/off-campus teaching/learning setting to existing departmental faculty?
    2. How will the unit support course development and delivery for faculty teaching and advising in this program?
    3. How will the unit maintain the engagement of the faculty, especially those not directly involved in the program?
    4. Who will be teaching the courses for this program? Anticipated instructors (name and academic rank) and the name(s) of back-up instructors if possible should be listed with each course made available through the program. (A Course Offering Template is provided to record this information.)
    5. Please provide a rationale for any planned use of adjunct faculty members, the extent of use, the criteria and process of selection, how they will be oriented to teaching in the program and evaluated, and attach a copy of their vitae if they have been identified.
  5. Student Admission
    1. Will students be admitted as non-degree or degree-seeking students? Note that Graduate College minimum requirements for admission of non-degree students differ from the requirements for students applying to a degree-seeking program. In addition, courses taken as a non-degree student are outside of the Graduate College.
    2. State the criteria and standards for admission to the program that are in addition to Graduate College minimums.
    3. How will you measure the potential for graduate study of applicants to the program for whom the intervening years since bachelor’s graduation may have meant a considerable increase in knowledge, motivation, maturity, the development of specific career goals, commitment to a profession, and even a distinguished record in that profession? (For the older adult student, those qualities that suggest promise for academic excellence may not be evident in such measures as undergraduate transcripts, standardized aptitude and achievement tests, and estimated quality of the undergraduate institution.) Often these qualities can be measured through reference letters, interviews, or evaluation of job experience and professional writing. How will these be incorporated in the application materials required?
  6. Curriculum
    1. State the requirements for the certificate or degree program.
    2. If the program's curriculum content or instruction will be adjusted to meet any special needs of the off-campus/online students, please describe.
    3. Include a list of courses that will be offered off-campus/online as part of the program. (Use the Course Offering Template to record this information.)
    4. Are there any special accreditation issues related to the proposed program and, if so, how have they been addressed?
    5. Please provide the following information (on the Course Offering Template) concerning each of the courses to be offered in the proposed off-campus/online certificate or degree program:
      • Name of academic unit
      • Course number and title
      • Semester to be offered
      • Hours of credit
      • Required or elective
      • Semester format
      • For transcripted certificate programs, indicate if courses are newly created or existing
    6. Course Variation: The quality of an off-campus/online certificate or degree program is not automatically assured by simply teaching the same courses, with the same content, in the same way as on-campus. The design and content of the off-campus program curriculum should certainly be consistent with the academic standards and requirements of the academic unit, but it should also reflect the unique background, culture, and educational needs of the students whom it serves. Nontraditional students often possess far greater professional experience than their traditional counterparts. They are also likely to be more independent and more goal-oriented, and consequently have a much different set of expectations related to their degree program. Describe your general approach for addressing nontraditional students through course variation in the proposed off-campus/online certificate or degree program.
    7. Mode of Delivery: The Graduate College encourages academic units engaged in off-campus/online graduate education to employ a variety of different methods and combinations of methods of instructional delivery. In addition to the traditional classroom format, academic units should make the best use of such instructional modes as concentrated periods of study on or off-campus (e.g. Summer Session, Weekend), and available communication and instructional technologies alone or in various combinations. There is no good evidence, to our knowledge, that one instructional mode is more successful in all situations than all the others or that inventive mixtures are not more effective than the use of a single mode. The opportunities for instructional innovation in presenting graduate programs to mature adult students are great, and should be limited only by academic integrity and by the limits of available technology. What is the planned mode(s) of delivery for the proposed off-campus/online certificate or degree program? (Use the Course Offering Template to record this information.)
    8. What are the minimum and optimum times for certificate or degree completion for off-campus students?
    9. How long is the certificate or degree expected to be offered in this location/format?
  7. Advising
    1. Academic advising for off-campus/online students can be accomplished via telephone, email, computer conferencing, and the scheduling of special advisement days in off-campus locations. No matter what the method, academic advisement must be established and maintained as an integral part of the off-campus/online graduate program. How will academic advising be accomplished and who will be involved?
    2. What procedures have been established to insure complete, accurate and timely two-way communication between off-campus/online students and the academic unit, particularly on matters of course scheduling, certificate or degree requirements, campus academic policy, etc.?
    3. Who will be assigned to coordinate the program? In the case of out-of-state site-based programs, what on-site coordination will be available?
    4. How will student annual progress be monitored and what form of record-keeping will be maintained?
  8. Academic Support
    1. What technologies will be used to deliver online portions of the program, and what unit will support those technologies?
    2. How will technology needed to deliver the program be made available to the students and how will any needed training in the use of that technology be provided? What technology (hardware, software, network connections) will students need to provide themselves?
    3. What are the requirements for library resources and how will they be provided?
    4. For site-based courses, describe the physical facilities available at the proposed location and the adequacy for meeting program objectives.
  9. Program Administration
    1. How will the academic unit insure that students, prior to enrollment, are accurately informed about the purpose, objectives, admission requirements, program requirements, cost, academic and financial policies, timelines, and the services to be provided or not provided?
    2. Are other academic units involved in supporting the program? If so, please list them here and include written commitment of their support.
    3. If the program is offered out-of-state, are there any additional approvals that will be necessary before offering the program, and what are they?
    4. How will the program be marketed and who will be responsible for marketing?
    5. If the program is discontinued, how will obligations to students be met?
    6. How and who will be responsible for ensuring that academic and departmental requirements are met?
    7. How will this program accommodate requests for meeting the requirements for the accessibility of special needs students?
    8. Will the Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning be involved in administering this program? If not, will another campus unit be involved?
  10. Resource Implications
    1. Are necessary funds available to support the program? Describe the sources of budgetary support for the program.
    2. Does the unit have adequate staffing to support this new program?
    3. Will there be new faculty, TA or instructor hires to assist in offering the program? If not, please explain how will teaching of the courses in a sustainable manner be managed if no new positions are anticipated.
    4. Describe the budget for marketing the new program.
    5. Will a request be made to have the program approved to be self-supporting?
    6. What tuition model/rate will be used?
    7. Is the future plan for the program to continue growing, remain consistent or be a temporary program, and how will that plan be implemented?
    8. If growth is desired, what is the plan for additional resources needed per unit of increased growth of the program in the future?
  11. Program Evaluation
    1. Describe how the quality of the program will be monitored and evaluated.
    2. Describe how the continuing need for the program and the resources needed to support it will be periodically evaluated.
    3. Describe how student satisfaction, curricula and faculty will be evaluated.
  12. Clearances
    1. Academic Unit
    2. School (if applicable)
    3. College
    4. Graduate College
    5. Provost's Office