Online Schools

What is an online school?

An online school is a diploma-granting institution that offers the majority of their courses through Internet-based methods, with time and/or distance separating the teacher and student.

UC requires that online schools maintain accreditation, adhere to the iNACOL Standards for Quality Online Programs [PDF] and meet the University’s expectations for online learning.

Course evaluation

Online schools that develop and use their own curriculum must either obtain course certification from the California Learning Resource Network (CLRN) or conduct self-assessments of their courses against the iNACOL Standards for Quality Online Courses before submitting their courses for “a-g” review. UC will consider and evaluate only CLRN-certified or self-assessed courses for “a-g” approval.

Once a course is certified by CLRN or the online school has conducted a self-assessment against the iNACOL course standards, it can be submitted to UC for “a-g” approval using the Online Update website during the annual course submission cycle, open from February 1 to September 15. The online course is reviewed by a subject area analyst using the same guidelines and criteria as all other new courses.

The University approves online courses for “a-g” purposes for a three-year term. After three years, the online school will be required to resubmit their course to CLRN or conduct another self-assessment against the iNACOL course standards before the course is resubmitted to UC for "a-g" review.

Online schools that purchase or license UC-approved courses from an online course publisher do not need to submit those courses to UC for “a-g” review or assess the course against the iNACOL course standards. It is the responsibility of the publisher to complete the appropriate assessment process and to submit their courses to UC for “a-g” approval. Courses from an online publisher that are UC-approved can be added to an online school’s “a-g” course list as previously approved courses.

What you need to establish a course list

1.  An ATP/CEEB code from the College Board.

To request a school code from the College Board, an institution must: (1) teach at least through the 10th grade, or provide evidence that a 10th grade will be added within the next 12 months; (2) have a course of study that leads to a diploma or GED; and (3) have a minimum of 10 students enrolled in grades 9-12. Schools can contact College Board at (609) 771-7091 to request the necessary form.

2.  Proof of accreditation.

The University of California values the process of accreditation as a means of providing structure, self-assessment and periodic reviews to schools and to ensure the quality of the instructional program and related activities. It is advised that new online schools begin the process for accreditation as early as feasible. To begin the process, contact a regional or national accrediting agency.

A copy of the letter from the accrediting organization granting your term of accreditation is required. A scheduled visit with a regional accrediting commission does not qualify as accreditation.

3.  Assessment against iNACOL course standards.

Courses intending to be submitted to UC for “a-g” approval must first be assessed against the iNACOL Standards for Quality Online Courses. The course will either be submitted to CLRN for course certification or the institution will conduct a self-assessment against the iNACOL course standards. An online school must have at least one CLRN-certified or self-assessed course to establish an “a-g” course list.

Online schools that purchase or license all or some of their courses from an online course publisher are not responsible for obtaining CLRN certification or conducting the self-assessment for those courses. It is the online course publisher’s responsibility to seek CLRN certification or conduct a self-assessment of their courses.

4.  The New Online School Information Form.

Complete the New Online School Information Form [PDF] and the Online Program Self-Assessment Form [PDF] to submit a request to establish an “a-g” course list. UC will only accept and review New Online School Information forms and Online Program Self-Assessment Forms submitted from January 1 - July 15, during the annual open period for new school processing. Schools that submit their form prior to July 15 will receive an opportunity to submit their CLRN-certified or self-assessed courses to UC before the course submission cycle closes on September 15.

This July deadline is in place to ensure that new schools have sufficient time to populate their lists with approved “a-g” courses before UC campuses begin reviewing undergraduate applications. Any new online school unable to meet the July 15 deadline may submit a completed form during the following year’s open period.

This form is designed to capture basic institutional and contact information and to ensure the school operates according to the iNACOL Standards for Quality Online Programs [PDF]. An “a-g” course list will be set up after careful assessment of the completed form.

Next steps

While UC processes the submitted New Online School Information Form, the online school may begin preparing courses for submission. Only those courses that are CLRN-certified or have been self-assessed against the iNACOL course standards can be submitted to UC. Our course description templates give a comprehensive overview of the required course content information needed for “a-g” review, and can guide the development of course descriptions for submission.

When an “a-g” course list has been established, UC will send an email notification, in addition to the login information to access the Online Update website. All new courses and course list updates are submitted online through the Update website.

New schools are given two course submission cycles to submit all of their courses for UC approval. The annual course submission cycle, open from February 1 to September 15, is the time when schools may submit their new courses and course list updates for the upcoming school year. During this two-year window, all approved courses are rolled back to appear on previous years’ course lists for each year the school was open, for up to five previous academic years.

Looking for an online school's course list?

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

Questions? Contact us!

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