Online course publishers

What is an online course publisher?

Online course publishers develop their own curriculum and sell or license their online courses for delivery by a teacher within the local high school or district. The publisher typically does not issue credit toward a diploma to students who complete their courses. Credit is issued instead by the student's home high school.

An online educational program that is both an online school and sells their own curriculum is considered by the University to be an online school and must meet the requirements specific to online schools to establish and maintain an “a-g” course list.

Course evaluation

Online course publishers are responsible for obtaining “a-g” approval on behalf of the schools, districts and programs that purchase or license their courses. UC grants a three-year approval status to all online courses that are certified as “a-g.” Every three years, publishers are required to complete the "a-g" online course approval process.

Publishers undergo a two-step online course review process:

1) Assessment against iNACOL course standards. Depending on the curricular focus and reach of their courses, the online publisher will either submitted the online courses to the California Learning Resource Network (CLRN) for certification or will conduct a self-assessment of their courses against the iNACOL Standards for Quality Online Courses.

2) Review by UC for “a-g” approval. Once a course obtains the necessary certification from CLRN or has undergone the appropriate self-assessment, it can then be submitted to UC for “a-g” review using the Online Update website during the annual course submission cycle, open from February 1 to September 15. The University’s subject area analysts evaluate the content of the course using the same criteria and guidelines as all other new courses.

When a new course from an online publisher is approved, it is automatically placed on the publisher’s “a-g” course list. Any school, district or program offering a publisher's online course can add the approved course to their “a-g” course list as a previously approved course.

New online course publishers

An online course publisher wishing to establish an “a-g” course list must:

  • Assess courses against the iNACOL course standards. Only those courses that are formally assessed against the iNACOL Standards for Quality Online Courses may be submitted to UC for “a-g” approval. Depending on the curricular focus and reach of their courses, the online course publisher will either conduct a self-assessment of their individual course against the iNACOL course standards, or the California Learning Resource Network (CLRN) will evaluate the course against the iNACOL course standards and conduct a review of the course’s content against the California Content Standards or Common Core State Standards.

  • Complete the New Online Course Publisher Information Form by July 15. This form is designed for UC to verify that the publisher meets the University’s criteria to establish an “a-g” course list and to capture basic institutional and contact information. An online course publisher must have at least one course assessed against the iNACOL course standards, either through certification by CLRN or a self-assessment conducted by the publisher, before completing the New Online Course Publisher Information Form [PDF]. UC will only accept and review New Online Publisher Information forms submitted from January 1 - July 15, during the annual open period for new publisher processing. Publishers who submit their form prior to July 15 will receive an opportunity to submit their courses before the course submission cycle closes on September 15. Programs that act as both an online course publisher and an online school should complete the information form for online schools.  

    This July deadline is in place to ensure that new publishers have sufficient time to populate their lists with approved “a-g” courses before UC campuses begin reviewing undergraduate applications. Any new publishers unable to meet the July 15 deadline may submit a completed form during the following year’s open period.
  • Begin preparing courses for “a-g” review. While UC reviews the New Online Course Publisher Information Form, publishers can begin preparing their CLRN-certified or self-assessed courses for submission to UC. Our course description templates give a comprehensive overview of the required course content information needed for “a-g” review and can serve as a guide in developing course descriptions for submission.

Once the University has set up the “a-g” course list, the publisher will receive an email notification, in addition to their login information to access the Online Update website. All new courses and course list updates may only be submitted online through the Update website while it is open for the annual course submission cycle from February 1 to September 15.

Looking for a publisher's course list?

Use the "a-g" Course List website to search for an online publisher's "a-g" course list and to determine which of their courses are UC-approved.

Questions? Contact us!

New publishers with questions on how to establish an "a-g" course list can contact newschool@ucop.edu