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Building a fully online degree program

UTSA's fully online, self-supporting programs serve a distinct student population that may not pursue or continue their education if not for the option to complete the program 100% online.


Student fees are embedded in the student credit hour rate charged to students and will be distributed to service areas according to the financial model outlined in each program Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Fully online, self-supporting degree program students are provided the exact same level of student fee service and support as traditional/residential students. These rates are evaluated and updated annually and are subject to change. Click here to see rates for full- and part-time students during the 2022-2023 academic year. 


Although the fully online, self-supporting program development process mirrors the process of in-person or hybrid courses, the UTSA Office of Online Program's faculty support services, administrative procedures and course design that are tailored for courses that are part of fully online programs.

Fully online program structure

The funding model for fully online, self-supporting programs aligns with the Incentivized Resource Management budget model and uses a different financial formula for revenue and expense distribution than programs eligible for state formula funding. 

UTSA Academic Innovation's Office of Online Programs provides necessary financial support for three years to encourage colleges to create online programs and minimize any initial financial barriers. After that period, as the program generates revenue, it becomes fully supported by the college. After the first three years of the initial investment period and the program is fully-launched and sustained, faculty can work with their respective Dean to plan for the continuation of their fully online, self-supporting program. 

Read the template memorandum of understanding to learn more.

A schedule that helps students succeed

The Office of Online Programs has found that fully online students are most successful when taking eight-week, fully asynchronous classes. However, a program may require a synchronous course that is offered outside of a traditional Monday-Friday workweek schedule. By working with the Office of Online Programs, you can find a class schedule and solution that helps your students succeed.

Faculty: Is a fully online program right for you?

Take a short quiz to see whether you're ready to create a fully online, self-supporting program for students.

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Program proposal and viability study

New fully online, self-supporting program planning process

Planning goals:

  • Initiator submits general proposal to include:
    • Proposed name, CIP codes and Standard Occupation Codes (SOC).
    • Need for program and how it supports mission/strategic plan.
    • Program format (in-person, hybrid or self-supporting, fully online) and anticipated costs.
  • Information provided back to the initiator:
    • Program market analysis. (IR)
    • Search engine optimization/marketing information. (Strategic Marketing)
    • Online course/program options and considerations if fully online self-supporting. (Academic Innovation)

Planning process:

  • Initiator submits initial program information
  • Program Markey Analysis added by Institutional Research and Analysis
  • Enrollment Marketing information added by SE (including flexible online curricular option)
  • Fully online, self-Supporting program information added by Academic Innovation
  • FYI sent to Academic Affairs and Academic Affairs Financial
  • Initiator answers additional questions (additional meetings may be set up with SE, Academic Innovation and the Dean, supported by UGS and GS)
  • Moving to the analysis phase requires Dean approval with Provost concurrence

New fully online, self-supporting program analysis process

Analysis goals:

  • Department reviews materials provided and adds information to the original proposal.
  • Revisions can be made to the initial proposal (i.e., roll-back in workflow).
  • Opportunity for conversations within the college (i.e., Dean, Financial Leads) and others (i.e., Financial Lead-Academic Affairs).
  • Department confirms whether to pursue.

Analysis process:

  • Department Curriculum Committees
  • Department Chair/Collaborating Chair
  • College Financial Lead
  • Associate Dean(s)
  • Dean/Collaborating Dean
  • College Curriculum Committees
  • College Financial Lead (FYI to Dean)
  • Academic Affairs Financial Lead (reviewed by VP Academic Affairs and VP Graduate Studies as well)

If the program does not proceed to being a fully online, self-supporting program, the college may still decide to enhance the program's major coursework with Teaching, Learning & Digital Transformation and provide it to hybrid and/or on-campus students in an online modality.

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Program review and approval

The Office of Online Programs collaborates with the proposal sponsor to ensure that the approved program completes the release requirements. The program initiator must follow all program creation requirements in Courseleaf to ensure all UTSA Departmental, College, Academic Affairs and external requirements are completed.

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Program design and faculty professional development

The Office of Online Programs helps faculty connect with Academic Innovation’s Office of Teaching, Learning & Digital Transformation (TLDT), which helps faculty ensure their course is designed for students in a fully online modality. TLDT's comprehensive assistance helps instructors develop classes accessible to all students, meet quality standards (Quality Matters and OLC Scorecard), and employ the latest best practices in universal design. Together, Online Programs and TLDT provide professional development, instruction, course development and refresh, assistance with the Courseleaf process, grading, facilitation, programming and more.

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Marketing the fully online program

The Office of Online Programs works collaboratively with UTSA Enrollment Marketing to promote fully online, self-supporting programs. Fully online, self-supporting programs appear on the UTSA Online website, are linked to UTSA’s other program pages, and are marketed directly to targeted audiences.

Prospective students complete a Request for Information form (RFI) on the UTSA Online or Future Roadrunner websites and are moved through a seamless handoff to the Online Programs staff. From there, advisors in the Office of Online Programs help students explore how to achieve their educational goals. The office provides its faculty and college partners with transparent and consistent reporting on interested and enrolled students.

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Comprehensive student advising and enrollment services

UTSA’s Office of Online Programs has created a program that is tailored to compete with other national fully online higher education programs. The office supports fully online students from the moment they first investigate and show interest about a UTSA degree program, through the enrollment process and orientation. This white glove, agile customer service experience ensures that UTSA does not lose potential students to competitors in the online education marketplace.

UTSA fully online students have all the academic support available to those in a traditional classroom setting, including student success support resources, innovative technology, and access to UTSA’s broader community. To learn more about student support services, visit the UTSA Online website.

Fully online students may join courses that are cross-listed in order to allow them to complete core classes at UTSA without having to create a new online-only section. Learn more about cross-listing courses.

Building courses for fully online programs

Academic Innovation's Offices of Online Programs and Teaching, Learning & Digital Transformation (TLDT) provide a variety of services to help instructors build courses specifically for a fully online modality. Additionally, the team helps faculty meet UTSA’s residential quality standards as well as navigate approval processes in Courseleaf.

TLDT helps instructors develop courses that are accessible to all students, meet quality standards (Quality Matters and OLC Scorecard), and employ the latest best practices in universal design. Online Programs and TLDT provide professional development, instruction, course development and refresh, assistance with the Courseleaf process, grading, facilitation, programming and more.

These services for faculty are paid for by the Office of Online Programs.

Tracking a fully online program’s progress

Once a program launches, the Office of Online Programs ensures its college partners are kept up-to-date on enrollment and prospective students. Here’s a snapshot of what you’ll see in the weekly report once you bring your program online.

  • Quantitative data with conversion rates of students making their way through the enrollment funnel
  • Qualitative data on what the front-line advising and enrollment teams are focusing on to help support your students
  • Total student credit hours and enrollments per program and term
  • Marketing trends and insights

In addition, the Office of Online Programs continues to consult with program initiators about enrollment, marketing, pricing, competitors and other areas where we can provide additional expert information and advice.