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UNF Online

Develop a New or Existing Online Program 

The University of North Florida supports the development of distance learning to meet the needs of students in a manner that is consistent with our mission. The University provides centralized oversight through UNF Online to ensure compliance with current policy and state and federal regulations. Distance learning at UNF adheres to the same standards and rigor expected from on-ground courses and programs. UNF complies with the  Principles of Good Practice defined by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) standards for distance education. Institutions accredited by SACSCOC are required to notify the Commission of any substantive change, which includes adding distance education at 50% or more for the mode of program delivery to an existing face-to-face program. The notification to SACSCOC must take place before reaching the 50% threshold. Contact the Director of Academic Programs in Academic Affairs to initiate the notification. 


Programs delivered as Primarily Online or Fully Online (i.e., at least 80% of coursework is delivered via distance learning) at UNF require an approved Distance Education Delivery Proposal. This approval process is solely focused on delivery mode and does not address program curriculum. All new degree programs must follow the New Major/Degree Program Process for curriculum development as established in UNF Policy 2.0040P.  

Program Development Timeline

Departments interested in offering a new or existing program in a distance learning modality are encouraged to start the conversation by reaching out to Assistant Vice-President of Digital Learning and Innovation, Dr. Deb Miller, Dr. Miller can answer questions about the program development process and discuss various services provided by UNF Online and the Center for Instruction and Research Technology (CIRT). In general,  program development can take 12 – 18 months, depending on the number of courses and the availability of course instructors to participate in the process.


The program development process occurs in five phases outlined below and in the Online Program Development Process Checklist. Departments are encouraged to download the checklist and use it to track process.


I. Interest and Feasibility

interest and feasibility icon Department chairs or college deans are encouraged to contact UNF Online to discuss considerations for online delivery prior to submitting a proposal for Distance Education delivery. Those include but are not limited to state authorization, practica/internships, SACSCOC notification, international students, military affiliates, and program modality. We can also provide market research data to assist departments in determining program feasibility.


When a department chooses to move forward with program development, the next step is the completion and approval of a Distance Education Delivery Proposal presented in the next phase.


II. Proposal and Approvals

proposal and approvals icon Once the academic department decides the online program is feasible for distance education delivery, the academic department must submit a Distance Education Delivery Proposal.


Note: The proposal is for delivery mode only and does not address the program curriculum. All new degree programs must follow the New Major/Degree Program Process for curriculum development as established in UNF Policy 2.0040P.


This phase of program development is complete once the proposal is approved and all other required curricular and accreditation approvals have been obtained. 


III. Program Planning

proposal planning icon Planning for program development starts when UNF Online contacts the department to schedule an intake meeting. The purpose of the intake meeting is to review the Distance Education Delivery Proposal, ensure appropriate supports and procedures are in place and discuss available services (e.g., faculty training, course development, marketing, student enrollment support, student orientation). The Department Chair, program director, and certain administrators from UNF Online and CIRT must attend the intake meeting. 


Following the intake meeting, CIRT will schedule a kickoff meeting with key stakeholders to review the proposed development timeline and discuss faculty training and support, program course-design templates, specialized course tools, media production, and the Quality Matters (QM) internal review process. At a minimum, the program director and instructional designers must participate in the kickoff meeting; however, faculty course developers are also highly encouraged to attend.


IV. Program Development

program development icon To ensure program development precedes as planned, there will be regular communication between key program stakeholders (program director, course instructors, and instructional designers) following an agreed-upon program implementation timeline. In general, program development takes 12 – 18 months, depending on the number of courses and the availability of course instructors to participate in the process. Instructional designers at CIRT serve as the main contacts to coordinate the development of the program courses in consultation with faculty course developers. Program stakeholders collaborate to plan, design, and develop online coursework using a best-practices framework for instructional design, aligned with national standards for distance learning courses and programs, and developed in Canvas. 

Marketing and Enrollment Support

UNF Online also provides admission and retention support to distance education programs in enrollment management, including marketing and recruiting prospective students for online degree programs and the coordination of student services for online learners. For more information, contact Associate Director Erica Anga,


Completion of program development represents a significant milestone that indicates the following has occurred:

Within three months of completing program development, the program coordinator submits an End-of-Project Report.


V. Program Delivery and Continuous Improvement

program delivery icon Depending on the program start date, an overlap between program development and program delivery may occur. The primary goal of the program delivery phase is to promote ongoing communication between program stakeholders and continue to provide whatever support is necessary to ensure continuous improvement across all coursework throughout the lifetime of the online program.


Examples of services that UNF Online provides to promote continuous improvement for online programs include:

  • Quality Matters Certification
  • Ongoing Communication

Program Refresh

Program development is not a one-and-done event. Within five years, most, if not all, courses within an online program will likely have undergone many modifications or curricular changes resulting in variations in the quality and consistency of course design across the online program. UNF's DL policy states that courses scheduled and delivered as distance learning must complete a course design quality review every five years. Therefore, to ensure all coursework within the online program undergoes continuous improvements, UNF Online works with program stakeholders to address the immediate and future needs of the online program, including the addition of new courses and provides support for course instructors who complete a course design refresh of their online course.



Funding is available to support program development and delivery. This may include faculty stipends for training and course development, DL Coaches, specialized equipment or software, or other expenditures attributable to the development and delivery of the distance learning courses. AA/UNF Online must approve all expenditures to ensure compliance with state requirements for using distance learning fee funds.