General FAQ

Q: Why the investment in online now when we are in a budget shortfall?

A: The decision to invest in online now follows a process that began last fall to explore the opportunity to grow online programs across the CU system. An assessment project facilitated by EY Parthenon, a consulting firm, found there is a strong demand for online academic programs in Colorado. Currently, a majority of students seeking degrees online in this state are enrolling in programs offered by an institution outside Colorado. The assessment also demonstrated that the CU brand is strong among students seeking an online degree. The investment in online is intended to be one approach to address the budget shortfall in the long run by bringing new students to our high-quality programs.  

Q: Why does CU need to change from the current online model?

A: Currently CU does not take advantage of the opportunity to realize both academic and economic benefits that can be enjoyed by sharing services and collaborating on programs. By having a centralized set of services to support fully online programs, and by collaborating with programs across campuses, we can generate economic efficiencies while also benefitting from closer collaborations to explore and iteratively develop high-quality practices for online program delivery. 

Q: What is the relationship between the Fall 2020/Spring 2021 Online Marketing Campaign and the OAC?

A: These efforts are moving forward in parallel, but are distinctly different initiatives. 

The Fall 2020/Spring 2021 Online Marketing Campaign is a one-time effort to support the campuses with additional resources to facilitate enrollments in existing online programs and to gauge, in part, market demand.

The Online Accelerator Committee is working to design the long-term processes to facilitate sustainable high-quality online programs for Fall 2021 and beyond.

Q: Is every online program at CU under the CU Online umbrella?

A: The recommendations for a process to determine which programs will be aligned under the CU Online umbrella is underway with the Online Accelerator Committee (OAC), and will account for faculty authority to approve curricular decisions. We anticipate that some academic programs will operate outside of CU Online and will be more aligned with specific campus-based supports

Q: How did CU determine the direction of CU Online?

A: The direction of CU Online has evolved to respond to opportunities to realize both academic and economic benefits that can be enjoyed by sharing services and collaborating on programs.

Q: What is the Fall 2020/Spring 2021 Online Marketing Campaign?

A: The Fall 2020/Spring 2021 Online Marketing Campaign is an initiative focused on increasing fall 2020 and Spring 2021 online enrollments. It is funded by the President’s Office. Twelve fully-online programs from CU Boulder, CU Denver, CU Anschutz Medical Campus, and UCCS have been invited to participate.

The campaign will include marketing and recruitment (enrollment navigation) support provided by the Office of Digital Education (ODE).


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Q: What process was used to determine participation in the Fall 2020/Spring 2021 Online Marketing Campaign?

A: Leaders from each of the four campuses were asked to identify high-demand programs available in a fully-online format that would benefit from additional marketing and recruitment initiatives.

The programs identified by the campuses have been invited to participate in the Fall 2020/Spring 2021 Online Marketing Campaign pending a discovery process. During the discovery process, program representatives will work with the Office of Digital Education to explore the steps necessary to benefit from participation in the effort. 

Q: What will happen to these programs after participation in the Fall 2020/Spring 2021 Online Marketing Campaign?

A: The programs in the Fall 2020/Spring 2021 Online Marketing Campaign may be eligible for ongoing support from ODE. This will largely depend on how the Online Acceleration Committee (OAC) structures the process for accessing and using the comprehensive services designed to support current and future online programs at CU.

Q: Are programs in the Fall 2020/Spring 2021 Online Marketing Campaign prioritized over others to receive ongoing support from ODE?

A: No. The Fall 2020/Spring 2021 Online Marketing Campaign is a stand-alone, one-time opportunity to access support during these extraordinary times. 

Q: Who is implementing the Fall 2020/Spring 2021 Online Marketing Campaign?

A: The Fall 2020/Spring 2021 Online Marketing Campaign is being implemented by the Office of Digital Education and University Relations in the president’s office, in collaboration with the selected programs and their marketing/communication leaders. 

Q: What is the Online Acceleration Committee and how will it affect the long-term plan for online education and incorporating CU Online into the overall CU brand?

A: The OAC has been established with representation from faculty and staff from all four CU campuses. Its charge is to recommend and endorse the infrastructure for the design, development and delivery of high-quality, sustainable online programs that align with CU’s mission.

The OAC will affect the long-term plan for online education by designing a plan that maximizes quality and the unique offerings at CU while simultaneously considering how to leverage efficiencies to eliminate redundancy.

It is critical to note that the plan put forth by the OAC will be reviewed and approved by the President and the Chancellors from each of the four  campuses. While the plan will implement the recommendations approved by this group, the OAC is further charged to create a plan that will allow for a governance process to recommend adjustments and alterations to the infrastructure as needed as the new structure is being rolled out. This process should rely on a model of continuous quality improvement to facilitate appropriate changes to optimize supports for online programs to achieve shared goals for high-quality programs that support student success.

Q: Who is serving on the Online Acceleration Committee?

A: Membership on the committee and its working groups is here

Q: How were members of the OAC selected?

A: The OAC includes representatives from faculty and staff from each of the four campuses as well as staff from the system office. Members were selected based on their experience with teaching online, design and development of online programs, and expertise in finance 

Q: How do I provide feedback or input to the OAC?

A: Each working group is reaching out to obtain input from specific groups, e.g. faculty, to inform recommendations. We will also be establishing a robust community engagement process that will solicit and facilitate input from diverse constituents during the committee work this summer and beyond as the recommendations for online learning support from the system level are implemented. We also have provided an online feedback form.

Q: How is the OAC approaching its work?

A: The OAC has five working groups that are working independently but also collaborating under the broad direction of the OAC. The working groups are Academics, IT, Online Services, Finance and Marketing/Communications.

Q: Will the Office of Digital Education continue the same level of support on CU Denver and Anschutz Medical Campus?

A: ODE is committed to the partnership with a number of programs through their Online Programs of Excellence (ONE) awards in order to facilitate CU Denver and Anschutz Medical Campus program optimization and go-to-market strategies, marketing, recruitment and student success services.

ONE Awardees will continue to engage with ODE to ensure faculty access to instructional design and academic technology services. All of these activities and services are ongoing and will remain in place.

ODE also supports faculty who are not engaged in the ONE awards, in particular through training and development activities, as well as 1:1 consultations with instructional designers to support the design and development of online courses. Additionally, ODE has been highly engaged in facilitating a rapid transition to remote teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring, and will continue to support faculty teaching virtual live courses and online courses this summer.  

Q: Will online programs services and operations now be supported centrally at the system level?

A: The intention of the OAC is to answer this question. Centralized services and operations can facilitate efficiencies and lower costs to programs while also supporting relevant and agreed upon standardization in the design and delivery of high-quality programs. Nevertheless, given unique attributes of academic programs on each of the four campuses and the sole responsibility of the faculty to make curricular decisions, the academic decisions related to any online program will remain with schools, colleges and faculty on each campus.  

Q: How will duplicate online programs be handled?

A: This is another question that the OAC will address. They will develop guidelines and promote incentives that can facilitate collaboration where possible and differentiation across programs.  In all cases, given that faculty own curricula, decisions about what programs a campus will deliver will remain with each academic unit. 

Q: Will instructional designers help me develop my individual class or who should I go to for help?

A: The specific organization of instructional design services for faculty on each campus is another factor of the infrastructure that the OAC will consider. Specifically, the Academic working group will strive to gain consensus on the optimal approach to provide faculty with training and mentoring in evidence-based practices for the design, development, delivery, and continual improvement of online programs and courses.  

Faculty Council Questions

Q: How will tuition work for system-level ODE programs. For example, CU Denver currently has a separate online rate that is lower than what an on-campus out-of-state student would pay. Will these kinds of tuition arrangements remain? Might system ODE share in the cost of things like agent commissions for fully online international students?

A. These are questions under consideration with the Finance working group for the Online Accelerator Committee and this working group will be making recommendations for other working groups and the Online Accelerator Committee to react to and comment on. Please note that Maja Krakowiak has been named as the Faculty representative to this group.

Q: It seems that APS 1014 is clear that faculty retain ownership of educational material and that departments and campuses can’t take ownership of that material (though they may own the course). The exception to this is the “substantial use of university resources” rule although things like computers are not included as a substantial resource per APS 1014.

A. So, we would like to make sure that any contracts between faculty and departments or departments and ODE do not violate this APS.  We would also like to have what substantial use of university resources might look like when it comes to course/program development in this context.

ODE is fully on board with this plan. We would reiterate that we do not believe ODE has jurisdiction in  questions of IP and therefore will be obligated to ensure that any agreements we have with departments do not incorporate consideration of IP.  

Q: What is the ongoing status of any contracts that faculty might have signed that are not in compliance with APS 1014? Are they unenforceable? Do they need to be rewritten?

A. ODE will be working with legal counsel to rewrite or revise as needed/requested based on the evolving decisions around the structure of services and agreements between  ODE and specific departments.

Q: Please clarify the relationship between faculty and ODE.

A. ODE will be providing services in the form of training and consultation in instructional design and academic technology to faculty who are teaching in online academic degree programs supported by agreements with ODE. Departments will make final decisions on entering into any relationship with ODE and on the specific expectations they have for faculty participation in instructional design consultation and the use of agreed upon metrics to evaluate the quality of course design. Note that while departments have the final word, this will not change the expectation that they will still need to coordinate their programs with their colleges and campuses.

Q: What do programs and their faculty that want to be part of the system online initiative have to agree to in order to participate? Is there a contract that must be signed to this effect?

A. Recommendations on the service level agreements are forthcoming from the Online Accelerator Committee. Until now, ODE has offered services to each academic program we are working with that includes:

  • A financial forecast of the costs and income anticipated over a 10 year time frame based on unit determined goals for student enrollments and blend of faculty
  • Support in the design of the online program to optimize the realization of academic outcome objectives and competencies across all courses, aligned to program specific accreditation requirement
  • Support and partnership in instructional design for each course that optimizes integration of evidence-based practices for online student success
  • Training for faculty in the use of relevant academic technology tools
  • Program marketing
  • Enrollment navigation for prospective students
  • Student success navigators to supplement campus-based advising
  • Program evaluation to facilitate continuous quality improvement 

We currently ask departments or schools to co-sign memoranda of understanding with ODE that specifies each of these deliverables as a method of accountability for the activities that are implemented and the resources utilized through our partnership. As noted above, recommendations on how to accomplish this moving forward are forthcoming from the Online Accelerator Committee.

Q: Where does revenue for online courses supported by ODE go? If a particular course becomes quite popular, will the faculty member share in the revenue (as they currently do with a MOOC)?

A. This is another factor that is being considered by the Financial Working Group of the Online Accelerator Committee and they will be recommending a specific model for sharing costs and revenue for online programs. Beyond that, decisions about how revenues are spent lie with the campuses and groups on campus. ODE won’t have jurisdiction over any of these decisions.