Policies and Forms

This page contains information and links to various policies and forms related to online program development.

Program Approval

3.5 Distance Delivery of an Academic Degree Program

(Excerpt from UW System Administrative Policy 102 (formerly ACIS 1.0)
Policy on University of Wisconsin System Array Management: Program Planning, Delivery, Review, and Reporting


For new programs, UW System Administration (UWSA) and BOR approval are required. UW institutions must follow the process detailed in Section 2.

UWSA adopts the Higher Learning Commission’s (HLC) current definition for distance delivery and correspondence delivery. If a student can earn the degree by taking 50% or more of the work in distance courses as defined by the HLC, the program is considered a distance delivery degree program.

The UWSA’s primary roles in distance delivery matters are to minimize unnecessary duplication of, and competition between, programs (systemwide array management); to maintain accurate records of distance delivery degree programs throughout the UW System; to review opportunities for the efficient use of resources systemwide; and to ensure that requirements for delivering programs to citizens of other states are met. Information about state authorization requirements can be found at http://wcet.wiche.edu/.


Offering an existing face-to-face degree program via 100% distance delivery (whether or not the face-to-face delivery is being eliminated) requires written notification at least 12 weeks prior to the desired effective date.

The Provost provides the following information to APEI and all Provosts via pprnoticeofintent@maillist.uwsa.edu:

  • A brief description of the existing program that will be offered via 100% distance delivery;
  • Whether the program will continue to be offered via face-to-face delivery, and the percentage that will be offered via face-to-face delivery;
  • A brief rationale for the change, including opportunities that will be made available to students;
  • The potential impact on students, including an assessment of any changes in costs;
  • The potential impact on faculty and staff;
  • Information on how any lab courses required for the degree will be handled;
  • Confirmation of the approval of the appropriate institutional governance body or bodies; and
  • The desired effective date.

Provosts have 10 working days to review the information and respond via pprnoticeofintent@maillist.uwsa.edu if there are concerns.

If no institutional concerns are raised, and if there are no systemwide concerns, APEI will issue the notification memo within 15 working days after the end of the Provosts’ review. If there are institutional or systemwide concerns, the AVP of APEI will determine the appropriate manner in which to proceed and will issue an approval or denial memo in an expeditious manner.


Offering 50% or more, but less than 100%, of an existing academic degree program via distance delivery requires written notification at least four weeks prior to the desired effective date. It is assumed that face-to-face delivery will continue.

The Provost provides the following information to APEI via afgp@uwsa.edu:

  • A brief description of action(s) to be taken;
  • The percentage of the program that will be offered via distance delivery and the percentage of the program that will continue to be offered via face-to-face delivery;
  • Confirmation of the approval of the appropriate institutional governance body or bodies; and
  • The desired effective date.

APEI will issue the notification memo within 15 working days after receipt of the information.

Note that there is also an approval process for adding face-to-face delivery to an existing 100% distance delivery program (see https://www.wisconsin.edu/uw-policies/uw-system-administrative-policies/policy-on-university-of-wisconsin-system-array-management-program-planning-delivery-review-and-reporting/#3.5DistanceDeliveryofanAcademicDegreeProgram for details).

Pricing of Online Courses

UW System distance education pricing policies grant institutions considerable latitude in setting prices for online courses, based on a number factors, including recovery of fixed and variable costs (i.e., equipment, personnel, fees for development of rich media, etc.); enrollment projections; market opportunity, access to subsidies such as grants, and competition. Click here for more information and current examples of online pricing at UWM.

The UW System Principles for Pricing Distance Education provide more details about pricing options and strategies.

Ownership and Use of Instructional Materials


The ‘default position’ of the UWM policy on the use, ownership, and control of instructional materials (S­32) vests ownership of instructional materials in the instructor who created the materials. In most cases, materials such as lectures and PowerPoints are unique to the instructor, do not represent a significant investment, and are not particularly transferable to another instructor.

If, however, course material is developed with substantial UW System or institutional support and involvement, a department chair or school/college dean may decide that a license agreement is needed to ensure ongoing continuity of the resource for the program and its students. These agreements are generally utilized in cases where: 1) the course in question meets the standard of a substantial institutional investment (e.g., a course buyout and use of multimedia personnel and facilities); and 2) the instructional material being developed is of the type that can be used by multiple instructors over a period of years to ensure program continuity (e.g., if the original faculty member developing the materials subsequently retires or leaves the university). It is important to note, however, that intellectual property issues are important to faculty members, and an overly aggressive approach to licensing may function as a disincentive to faculty development of online courses. See the official policy on the Use, Ownership and Control of Instructional Materials for more detailed information.

Distance Education Fee Authorization