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Handbook of Operating Procedures

Distance Education

Policy Number: 224


Distance Education


All educational programs at the University

Date Reviewed:
September 2023
Responsible Office:
Office of the Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer
Responsible Executive:
Senior Vice President for Academic & Faculty Affairs


The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (“University”), in its mission to educate health science professionals, is committed to ensuring that students receive a quality education, whether in a traditional classroom setting or via distance education. Educational programs offered via distance education shall be consistent with the University’s role, scope, and mission and will meet quality practices and delivery protocols as required by applicable state and federal policies.


Distance Education: a formal educational process in which the majority (50% or more) of the instruction (interaction between students and instructors and among students) in a course occurs when students and instructors are not in the same place. Instruction may be synchronous or asynchronous. Distance education may include use of the internet; one-way and two-way transmissions through open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite, or wireless communications devices; audio conferencing; or other digital media if used as part of the distance education course or program. It does not include recorded lectures that students may access outside of scheduled face-to-face class offerings.

Educational program: A coherent course of study leading to the awarding of a credential (i.e., a degree, diploma or certificate).


A.     Reporting

Schools that wish to offer new distance education programs or courses or adjust the percentage of current distance education courses offered within an existing educational program should refer to HOOP 223, Academic Program and Substantive Change Policy for procedures on academic change approvals with regards to distance education.

B.     Guidelines

Academic leadership at each school is responsible for developing and implementing effective policies and procedures for, and assessment and evaluation of, all distance education courses and educational programs. The University Office of Academic Administration (OAA) will consult with the Deans or Deans' designees to ensure that the University  adheres to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) Policy Statements and Guidelines in the Application of the Principles of Accreditation to Distance and Correspondence Education and that the educational programs offered through any of the modalities outlined and defined above meet state approvals through Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). Schools that undergo programmatic accreditation should also ensure adherence with pertinent agency policies and/or guidelines relating to distance education.

In addition, the University is subject to additional rules governing distance education by virtue of its membership in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). Specifically, schools that offer courses or programs potentially leading to professional licensure must keep all applicants informed as to whether such offerings actually meet state licensing requirements in the state in which the student resides (see SARA Policies and Standards section 5.2).