Administrative Policies

AD55 Role of the Department of Distance Education/World Campus

Policy Status: 

Under Review

Subject Matter Expert: 

Renata Engel, 814-865-7581,

Policy Steward: 

Executive Vice President and Provost


  • Purpose
  • Policy
  • Procedures
  • Administrative Responsibility

    The Department of Distance Education was created to provide a single University-wide administrative unit to support academic units in the delivery of courses and programs that use technology as the primary delivery method to serve off-campus students. In this context, programs may include credit and noncredit certificate programs, undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and individual courses, noncredit workshops, seminars, and other formal and nonformal learning opportunities, and related services. Audiences for these programs consist of individuals and groups of learners studying at home or at worksites nationally and internationally, as well as part-time students who participate in Distance Education programs through the facilities at Penn State locations.

    The purpose of this policy is to ensure high quality program design and delivery, financial accountability, and student services in all distance education programs that use technology to serve off-campus students through the Department of Distance Education.



    e Department of Distance Education/World Campus will be the single delivery unit for academic programs and courses originating through and approved by a Penn State academic unit, using the name of the University, that use technology as the primary delivery method to serve off-campus students.

    This policy does not apply to the following:

    • Programs offered by Campus Colleges to worksites or other receiving sites within their accepted geographic service area for continuing education.
    • Inter-campus delivery of programs to support resident instruction or continuing education where the student registration is administered by the local campus.
    • Intra-campus use of technology to enhance on-campus courses.
    • Inter-institutional service programs, such as programs in which residential students at two institutions share a common course delivered via technology.
    • Programs using technology in support of traditional educational events that are delivered primarily at a single site, whether at a campus or other location.

    NOTE: While this policy provides for these exceptions, the Department of Distance Education/World Campus will provide consultation and access to its services and faculty development programs to support exempted programs if requested.


    Distance Education/World Campus has been identified as a "location" of the University for the purpose of integrating it into the academic approval process. Academic units wishing to offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs off-campus through Distance Education/World Campus will seek academic approval to offer the program at a new location. If the program involves the development of new credit courses, these will be approved by the Faculty Senate per existing University policy.

    All academic units of the University may propose programs for delivery through Distance Education/World Campus. The academic unit is responsible for gaining appropriate academic approval for the program for distance education delivery. Academic units are responsible for assigning faculty to the program, for academic quality, for certifying degrees, and other academic responsibilities.

    As appropriate, Distance Education/World Campus will provide support services, such as instructional design and technology support, faculty development, marketing and promotion, and registration, records, and related student support and will ensure that programs conducted in the name of the University through distance education comply with the policies and procedures established by the University.

    Distance Education/World Campus will fund costs and will collect all tuition and fees for off-campus students, sharing net income with the sponsoring academic unit through University policies existing at the time of delivery.

    The following criteria will be used to evaluate approval of programs for delivery through Distance Education/World Campus: academic strength of the program as certified by the sponsoring college; readiness of faculty to commit to course development and delivery; appropriateness of the program for delivery through available technologies; evidence of the existence of an identifiable, reachable market that can sustain costs over the proposed life of the program;and the ability of the program to achieve and support students at a scale of operation needed to recover full costs and anticipated net income.

    Degree programs delivered via Distance Education/World Campus will be monitored by the Faculty Senate and/or the Graduate Council.


    The Vice President for Outreach and Cooperative Extension, in conjunction with the Dean of the sponsoring college or school, will have overall responsibility for ensuring the effective delivery of all approved programs offered through the Department of Distance Education/World Campus. The Associate Vice President for Distance Education and Executive Director of the World Campus, in conjunction with the Associate Dean for Outreach of the school or college, will have general administrative responsibility for the operation and delivery of all approved programs and will establish budgets and arrange for faculty and student support as appropriate to the individual program.

    Most recent changes:

    • May 23, 2023 - Policy Steward changed from Senior Vice President, Chief of Staff to Executive Vice President and Provost.

    Revision History (and effective dates):

    • June 15, 2006 - Revision History added.
    • Deptember 7, 2000 - New Policy.

    Date Approved: 

    September 5, 2000

    Date Published: 

    September 7, 2000

    Effective Date: 

    September 7, 2000