Academic Guidelines for Off-Campus and Distance Learning Programs

Off-Campus/Distance Education Programs

Guidelines for Review of New Proposals
Office of the Provost
Issued: October 2000 Revised: February 2022

Academic Guidelines for Off-Campus Programs and Select Undergraduate Programs

  1. Degrees should be offered only in disciplines where academic strengths already exist on campus. Usually they will have the same requirements as a degree program on campus. If not, the school must prepare a planning proposal following the usual guidelines established in Guidelines for the Review of Academic Planning Proposals.
  2. Admission criteria should be the same as those used by the school for its on-campus programs. Academic standards should be as rigorous for students enrolled in off-campus programs.
  3. In order to offer students the same quality, rigor and adherence to the highest professional standards as on-campus programs, online programs must include permanent (tenure- or appointment-stream) Pitt faculty members as instructors or program coordinators/directors.
  4. Adequate academic support infrastructure must be available. This includes adequate access to graduate-level library and computing resources and laboratories.
  5. Students should have access to student services such as registration, withdrawal, payment of bills, withdrawal from courses, etc.
  6. Effective academic advising.
  7. Any internship experience or research experience must be arranged and supervised by full-time regular faculty or academic administrators.

Additional Academic Guidelines for Off-Campus Programs Offered via Electronic Communication

  1. The program must provide faculty support services specifically related to teaching via an electronic system.
  2. The program must provide training for faculty who teach via the use of technology.
  3. The program must provide appropriate and reliable equipment for electronic transmittal. The program must inform students before registration what equipment they must have to receive electronic transmittal. If the program supplies equipment, the program must have adequate means to ensure receipt as scheduled.
  4. The program provides for appropriate interactions between faculty and students and among students.
  5. The program provides for appropriate methods to assess student learning. Evaluation of student learning should be equivalent to that used in courses taught in classes or laboratories on campus.