Graduate Council Manual

4.00 Guidelines for Approval & Conduct of Graduate Distance Education Programs

4.10 Definition of Distance Education

Distance education is defined as a formal educational process in which the majority (>50%) of the instruction occurs when student and instructor are not in the same place. Instruction may be synchronous or asynchronous. Distance education may employ correspondence study, audio, video or computer technologies.

Distance education programs as defined herein are governed by an agreement of the regional accrediting associations. Wright State University is subject to policies and procedures disseminated by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

4.20 Overview of Approval Process

In order for an existing graduate degree program or graduate certificate program to be officially designated and offered through distance delivery methods, including but not limited to electronically offered or on-line programs, a proposal for such delivery must first be reviewed and approved. The initial approval is by the appropriate college or school graduate studies committee and the college or school faculty if required by that unit. The proposal is then forwarded to the Graduate School for review by the Graduate Council through the appropriate Curriculum Committee. Graduate distance education programs must then be submitted to and approved by the Regents' Advisory Committee on Graduate Study (RACGS) of the Ohio Board of Regents.  Approved programs are then submitted to the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) as part of the university's annual status update. If the program being proposed for distance delivery is a new or revised program, approval of the program or the program revisions must proceed in parallel with approval of distance delivery by the procedures described for such approvals in this Manual, chapter 3.

4.30 Preparing Distance Education Program Proposals

A proposal to offer a program by distance delivery should be prepared by following the outline given in NCA’s Seeking Approval of Proposed Changes: Documentation to Support a Change Request (pdf) (The Higher Learning Commission Handbook of Accreditation, Sec 702).

In the process of completing this outline, the proposal author should also address the expectations for a quality distance education program given in Guidelines for Distance Education (pdf). In addition, the proposal author should prepare a one page Executive Summary to accompany the proposal during the review cycle.

Following college approval, one copy of the proposal and the executive summary should be submitted, preferable electronically, by the college dean to the Graduate School. Once the proposal has received approval through the internal process, the Office of the Provost will submit the proposal for review to the NCA.

4.40 Best Practices for Electronically Offered Programs

To assist institutions in implementing and maintaining the quality of electronically offered programs, the eight regional accrediting commissions have developed and published Best Practices For Electronically Offered Degree and Certificate Programs (pdf). In developing, implementing, maintaining, and assessing distance learning programs, departments and colleges and schools should follow those practices.