Course Development Standards

To assist faculty with designing online courses, Academic Technologies & Faculty Engagement has assembled a set of course development standards. These standards are based on the Quality Matters Rubric, which is the national benchmark for higher education online course design. Our instructional design team will work with you to incorporate these standards into your distance learning course and answer questions throughout the development process. When the development of a distance learning course is complete, a member of our instructional design team will conduct a review using these standards. We recommend referencing these standards to assist you during the design and development of your course. Learn more about Quality Matters and their development opportunities, or view a PDF of the course development standards at the bottom of this page.

Course Overview Standards


Course Overview & Introduction

The overall design of the course is made clear to the student at the beginning of the course.


Instructions indicating how to start the course are clear and the navigation of online components is logical.


Students are introduced to the purpose and structure of the course.

Learning Objectives

Learning objectives are measurable and are clearly stated.


The course learning objectives describe outcomes that are measurable, are written from the students’ perspective, and are appropriately designed for the level of the course.


The module/unit learning objectives describe outcomes that are measurable and consistent with the course-level objectives.

Assessment & Measurement

Assessment strategies are designed to evaluate student progress by reference to stated learning objectives; to measure the effectiveness of student learning; and to be integral to the learning process.


The types of assessments selected measure the stated learning objectives and are consistent with course activities and resources.


The course grading policy is stated clearly.


Specific and descriptive criteria are provided for the evaluation of students’ work and participation and are tied to the course grading policy.

Instructional Materials

Instructional materials are sufficiently comprehensive to achieve stated course objectives and learning outcomes.


The instructional materials contribute to the achievement of the stated course and module/unit learning objectives.

Learner Interaction & Engagement

Forms of interaction incorporated in the course motivate students and promote learning.


The learning activities promote the achievement of the stated learning objectives.


Learning activities provide opportunities for interaction that support active learning.


The instructor’s plan for classroom response time and feedback on assignments is clearly stated.

Course Technology

Course technology supports student engagement and ensures access to course components.


The tools and media support the course learning objectives.


Course tools and media support student engagement and guide the student to become an active learner.

Learner Support

The course facilitates student access to institutional support services essential to student success.


The course instructions articulate or link to a clear description of the technical support offered and how to access it.


The course demonstrates a commitment to accessibility for all students.


Course instructions articulate or link to the institution’s accessibility policies and services, employs accessible technologies, and provides guidance on how to obtain accommodation.