Distance Education

We work alongside colleges to develop distance education programs

We'll be with you through the program development and approval process and beyond. Partnering with ODEE will provide you with the tools you need to create online programs with the value, quality and rigor expected of Ohio State offerings, including sound course design, academic integrity and accessibility compliance.

View the full portfolio of active distance education programs at online.osu.edu/programs.


Our services are funded through the university's distance education budget model.

Administrative Support

In addition to guiding you through the program approval process, we coordinate with stakeholders across campus to ensure online programming processes are running smoothly and are integrated into university planning. We're constantly working with you, listening to your feedback and representing program interests to university leadership and student support units.

Course Design

Our instructional designers work closely with your faculty to develop the online courses that are part of your program, providing them with tools, templates and resources to develop and support their courses while infusing best practices in academic integrity. Our video and multimedia team helps develop professional course introduction videos and other assets.


State Authorization

Our state authorization team is dedicated to researching distance education and professional licensure regulations, seeking and maintaining compliance, and communicating changes in authorization status.



Our marketing team works with you and your college's marketing team to promote your program under the Ohio State Online sub-brand using tactics like paid advertising and content marketing.



Take the first step toward developing your online program. 
Contact us to schedule a consultation.

Guiding Principles

The guiding principles of Ohio State's distance education programs are value, quality and rigor. These distinguish us in the competitive field of distance education.


Focusing on the differentiating factors of our degrees when communicating to potential students will clearly mark the value of an Ohio State online degree. These differentiating factors have earned Ohio State Online consistently high U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Programs rankings year after year.

Our focus is on programs that are available 100% at a distance. This enables us to serve a larger set of potential students who may not be able to come to campus due to work or life commitments. The courses are developed in collaboration between Ohio State’s nationally recognized faculty and our instructional design experts.


It is essential that we uphold the integrity and quality of an Ohio State degree. Students are held to the same high admissions standards, and the caliber of student admitted to our distance programs is equal to that of our on-campus programs.


Consistent, rigorous course experiences both on-campus and at a distance are what produce students who are prepared for their future careers. Unlike many competitors that house distance faculty in a distance college and hire many of their instructors on a temporary or term-by-term basis, Ohio State Online students are taught by the same faculty from the same colleges as their on-campus peers and are held to the same rigorous course standards. 


Ohio State has adopted the Higher Learning Commission's distance education definitions.

The University Registrar defines distance courses and programs as follows:

Distance Course

A distance course is one in which 75% or more of formalized instruction, synchronous or asynchronous, uses one or more of the following technologies: the internet; one-way and two-way transmission through open broadcast, closed-circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite, or wireless communication devices; audio conferencing; or videocassettes, DVDs, and CD-ROMs used in conjunction with any of the other technologies.

Ohio State defines distance courses by two instruction modes:

  • Distance Learning (DL): 100% of instruction is offered by distance
  • Distance Enhanced (DH): 75%-99% of instruction is offered by distance

View the University Registrar's Job Aid for Class Labels.

Distance Program

A distance program is a postsecondary educational program offered by an institution of higher learning, in which 50% or more of the courses offered are distance courses, which leads to an academic or professional degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential.

An associates, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral program is considered a distance program if 50% or more of the courses offered are distance courses. Ohio State does not include minors or embedded certificates as stand-alone education credentials for distance education; however, Certificate Types 1A, 2 and 3A can be considered distance programs if 50% or more of the courses offered are distance courses.

Why Definitions and Labels Matter

The consistent use of labels with distance education programs, courses and students is critical for compliance requirements, accreditation reporting, and clear and effective consumer information.

Students enrolled in Ohio State Online programs are identified by the ONL (online learning) sub-plan in the student information system. The distance education budget model is applied to all Distance Learning (DL) and Distance Enhanced (DH) credit hours for students enrolled in the ONL sub-plan.


Business Model

When we talk about Ohio State’s business model for distance education, we’re really referring to two separate financial models: the tuition model – what students pay for distance education – and the budget model – how that revenue is distributed across the university.

These financial models were approved by the Office of Academic Affairs and the University Senate Fiscal Committee in 2013 and are reevaluated on a yearly basis. These models only apply to students labeled/identified with the ONL (online) sub-plan in the student information system and to Distance Learning (DL) and Distance Enhanced (DH) courses. For more information, see the Definitions page.

How the Tuition Model Works

In addition to instructional and general fees, Ohio State Online students pay a $100 distance fee each term, which pays for a variety of online education resources, such as the remote proctoring tool Proctorio that is fully integrated into CarmenCanvas. Out-of-state students are also assessed a non-resident surcharge of $200 per term. For more information, visit online.osu.edu/tuition-and-fees.

How the Budget Model Works

Just like traditional face-to-face programs at Ohio State, revenue calculation for distance education programs is based on a two-year average. Regardless of delivery mode, distribution of revenue for new programs begins the year after the program is launched. In addition, marginal revenues for both types of programs, face-to-face and online, are subject to a 24% Support Unit Tax. 

However, unlike face-to-face programs, online programs are not charged Student Service Assessments (SSAs) 1, 2 or 3.

This difference means distance education programs bring in more revenue to your college per tuition dollar than face-to-face programs do. 

Bar graph comparing percentage of each tuition dollar that goes to colleges for online students compared to graduate and undergraduate students

Instead, online programs are charged SSA 4, which funds ODEE’s instructional design and marketing services as well as ongoing program support.

The tables below illustrate the difference in revenue calculation between face-to-face programs and distance education programs.

Revenue Calculation for the average cost of one credit hour in Fiscal Year 2019*

Graduate Program
Average Tuition$1,025.55$1,025.55
Average Subsidy$399.54$399.54
Total Revenue$1,225.32$1,225.32
Support Unit Tax$294.08 (24%)$294.08 (24%)
Net Marginal Revenue$931.24$931.24
SSA2 Charge$492.26NA
SSA3 Charge$4.36NA
SSA4 DE AssessmentNA$279.37
Revenue to College$434.62 (47%)$651.87 (70%)

*Since the university does not receive subsidy for out-of-state students, this example is conservative, estimating 50% of subsidy to account for out-of-state students. On average about 80% of online program students are in-state residents.

Undergraduate Program
Average Tuition$390.84$390.84
Average Subsidy$218.27$218.27
Total Revenue$499.98$499.98
Support Unit Tax$119.99 (24%)$119.99 (24%)
Net Marginal Revenue$397.98$397.98
SSA1 Charge$118.12NA
SSA3 Charge$4.36NA
SSA4 DE AssessmentNA$114.00
Revenue to College$257.50 (68%)$265.98 (70%)

*Since the university does not receive subsidy for out-of-state students, this example is conservative, estimating 50% of subsidy to account for out-of-state students. On average about 80% of online program students are in-state residents.

 Your unit’s fiscal officer can model a projection for your program using our budget model template.

DE Budget Model template


Online Program Development Process

This list outlines what steps colleges take and what approvals must be secured to create a distance education program at Ohio State.


  1. Meet with ODEE to discuss your proposed program and enrollment goals, learn about ODEE services available for online programs, discuss approval and development process, and identify next steps.
  2. Meet with your department and college curricular dean or chair and committee to discuss expectations and deadlines for proposal review and course changes upon program approval.
  3. Meet with ODEE marketing and your college marketing director to discuss enrollment goals and marketing plan. If applicable, complete our market research request form, so we may gather market data for your proposed program.
  4. Meet with ODEE fiscal and your college fiscal officer to discuss and understand the distance education budget model.
  5. Familiarize yourself with state authorization.
  6. Review Graduate School and/or Council on Academic Affairs (CAA) proposal guidelines and past proposals.

Initial Approvals

  1. Develop and submit your proposal for approval to the appropriate department and college curricular committees.
  2. Complete ODEE's Memorandum of Understanding and budget projection worksheet.
  3. Submit your proposal, ODEE MOU, and budget projection worksheet for approval to the Graduate School and/or CAA.

Course Design and Program Development

This stage takes place after initial approvals are secured.

  1. Meet with ODEE distance education director and relationship strategist to begin course design.
    1. Your courses will be added to our course design schedule at this time. Courses are designed one to two semesters prior to term of offer.
    2. Schedule a follow-up meeting between instructors who will design courses within the online program and the ODEE associate director of course design to familiarize instructors with resources and the course design process.
  2. Submit applicable courses for online delivery and any course revisions to curriculum.osu.edu.
  3. Meet with ODEE state authorization team to understand the requirements, service, and process for obtaining authorization.
  4. Meet with ODEE marketing to begin development of your customized marketing plan and Ohio State Online web page content.

Final Steps

  1. If applicable, obtain approval from University Senate, Board of Trustees and Ohio Department of Higher Education. (These approvals typically apply to Change of Delivery and New Program proposals.)
  2. Registrar assigns CIP, CPP, and ONL codes to your program.
  3. Create application in partnership with Undergraduate or Graduate Admissions.
  4. After application has been created and is live, ODEE marketing can begin.

Program Administration

  1. Prepare for application reviews, advising, student support, etc.
  2. Admit and enroll students, labeling students in the student information system with the Distance Education (ONL) subplan.
  3. Meet with ODEE for check-in conversation each semester.
  4. Continue to work with ODEE marketing to share data around prospective students, applications, and program goals and needs.

Program Approval Timelines*

  • New Program: 12-18 months
  • Change of Delivery: 9-12 months
  • Certificate: 6-9 months

*These timelines are estimates. There are many factors that can affect a proposal's timeline to approval. Please note that once a program has been approved, it needs to be added to the university’s systems and an application needs to be created. This process is estimated to take anywhere from 4-8 weeks.

Contact us for more information about developing your online program.

Course Design

ODEE instructional designers work one-on-one with Ohio State Online program faculty and instructors over a semester-long course design collaboration.

During this time, program faculty may also consult with our educational technologists, instructional multimedia specialists, and library specialists. Online programs might include courses previously offered in other modalities alongside brand-new courses unique to the program. Either way, the ODEE instructional design team supports online program faculty throughout every phase of the design process. Collaboration typically happens through weekly meetings and requires a time commitment from the instructor between meetings to organize materials and create new content. 

Envisioning and Planning the Course

Online courses require different approaches and considerations than in-person courses. Setting aside the “old” and envisioning the “new” isn’t an easy task. On the other hand, creating a new online course affords exciting opportunities for reimagining course structure, student engagement, key topics and skill acquisition. Online program instructors work closely with ODEE instructional designers, turning course materials into stories optimized for online learning environments.

Each semester-long course design collaboration begins with a kickoff meeting, during which online program instructors and ODEE instructional designers brainstorm and prioritize goals. Together, ODEE instructional designers and faculty employ a backward design process to:

  • Articulate course outcomes
  • Determine assessments for measuring outcomes
  • Build a week-by-week learning plan with supporting activities

Throughout this process, online program instructors offer ideas for outcomes, assessment, and activities. ODEE instructional designers then collaboratively develop these ideas using evidence-based best practices for online teaching. Together, the online program instructor and the instructional designer generate a course design plan that takes advantage of online learning environments and guides students to success. 

Building the Course

CarmenCanvas, Ohio State’s learning management system, is the hub for online courses and learning experiences. ODEE has created a Carmen course template that is easily navigable and visually appealing by using modules. Each module offers specific content templates for lecture materials and various assignment types. ODEE instructional designers work with instructors to customize this template based on each course’s design plan. Every Carmen course template also includes a customizable online syllabus template for communicating course plans.

There are two goals of each course design collaboration. By the conclusion, we ensure there is a solid course structure within Carmen. More importantly, we empower faculty by imparting skills necessary for course development and maintenance. As such, ODEE instructional designers will connect online program faculty with appropriate professional learning opportunities.

Online program faculty may also receive assistance in creating or curating course content from:

  • Educational technologists, who can advise on the best uses of university-supported technology when planning course activities and assignments
  • The instructional multimedia team, who can help instructors capture and create audio and visual content
  • library specialist, who can consult on copyright and fair use considerations, locate open educational resources, and support information literacy skills that might be needed in a course

Delivering the Course

Direct ODEE support for new online courses concludes after the semester-long collaboration with an instructional designer. However, the course design process influences how online program faculty deliver their courses, which includes:

  • Generating a calendar or checklist of pre-semester and ongoing administrative tasks for the course
  • Anticipating the instructor workload for designed activities and assessments
  • Equipping instructors with knowledge of learning technologies necessary for course maintenance and revisions, such as the addition of weekly overview videos or whole class announcements

Refining the Course

No newly designed online course is 100% perfect on its first iteration. Our instructional design process introduces online program instructors to tools for gathering key data and evaluating a course’s effectiveness. The backward design process generates effective measurements in the form of course assessments that help instructors determine whether course outcomes are being met. Our Carmen template also includes a customizable survey for gathering student feedback throughout the course.

Importantly, this data informs an ODEE-facilitated revision of each course after three years. During this revision, online program faculty are again paired with an ODEE instructional designer who helps brainstorm and execute course updates. If additional support is needed before the three-year mark, online program instructors may request a one-hour consultation.

For more information about teaching online classes at Ohio State, check out ODEE's Best Practices for Online Teaching, or request a consultation.


ODEE marketing is responsible for promoting the Ohio State Online sub-brand and its programs. 

An ODEE marketing representative will work with leaders from your program, college marketing professionals, internal stakeholders and external agencies to design an annual, individualized marketing plan best suited to drive perspective students to your program. It is crucial for each college to participate in these marketing activities to help reach your enrollment goals.

ODEE marketing services include: 

  1. A presence on online.osu.edu that includes web development and copywriting (all programs)  
  2. Inclusion in digital and non-digital brand marketing campaigns (all programs) 
  3. Program-specific marketing:
    1. Tactics that may be employed include digital advertising, traditional advertising, written and visual storytelling, student journey mapping, and landing page development
    2.  Market research insights can be provided to inform program demand, identify competitors, determine alumni outcomes and more

To contact the distance education marketing team, email osuonline@osu.edu.


Smiling, grey haired man points at a laptop computer over the shoulder of a smiling womanODEE offers professional development opportunities and resources for faculty and staff around best practices in online education.

Ohio State Online Programs Network

The Ohio State Online Programs Network is for anyone at Ohio State (those with a lastname.#) interested in discussing Ohio State Online programs. Connect with each other, share ideas, and stay up to date on the latest news and research on online program administration, marketing and student support.

The network will have physical and virtual events, but Microsoft Teams is a virtual meeting place to allow for discussions throughout the year. You can join using the link go.osu.edu/online-programs-network if you already use your Ohio State Microsoft Teams account, or you can log in at office365.osu.edu and then click the link. Getting Started materials are linked in the General channel. Medical Center employees can request access to Microsoft Teams via the Wexner Medical Center Help Desk at 614-293-3861.

Resource Center

The ODEE Resource Center is full of materials to help you make the most of the services we provide. Browse the topics or search for something specific.

Teaching Support Consultations

ODEE provides consultations and support for using teaching strategies that incorporate or rely on technology. Consultations start with reaching a shared understanding of your current goals and motivations. From there, we'll explore specific strategies for choosing learning technology tools.


Attendees can ask questions and work directly with staff from ODEE at various workshops throughout the year. Workshop topics focus on ODEE's major toolset resources and additional learning technology offerings. Explore our upcoming workshops and register online. You can also subscribe to our newsletter.

Still need help? Reach out to us! You can expect to hear back in 1-2 business days.