Distance Education Modifications & Requests

Coordinating Board rules define distance education as “the formal educational process that occurs when students and instructors are not in the same physical setting for the majority (more than 50%) of instruction.” Distance education can include courses and programs offered online, off-campus face-to-face, and electronic-to-groups. Coordinating Board rules recognize two categories of distance education courses: fully distance education courses and hybrid/blended courses. A fully distance education course is defined as “a course which may have mandatory face-to-face sessions totaling no more than 15% of the instructional time. Examples of face-to-face sessions include orientation, laboratory, exam review, or an in-person test.” A hybrid/blended course is defined as “a course in which a majority (more than 50% but less than 85%), of the planned instruction occurs when the students and instructor(s) are not in the same place.”

Note: Revised definitions will go into effect on December 1, 2023.


Institutions should used the degree program and administrative change request form for requests related to modality changes or additions, off-campus programs, and self-supporting programs. Effective May 18, 2023, all requests for modality changes or additions are notification only, regardless of degree level. 

Before institutions offer any distance education courses or programs for the first time, regardless of modality, an Institutional Plan for Distance Education form must be submitted to the Coordinating Board.

Approval Process

You may also wish to refer to the following documents to determine the approval process, notification requirements, and funding for distance education programs and courses:

Principles of Good Practice

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board commends and encourages the development of online courses and programs that enhance access to higher education throughout the state of Texas. The Coordinating Board works closely with Texas colleges and universities as well as with Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas (ICUT) to ensure the high quality of distance education. To that end, all public institutions are required to certify that their distance education programs are in compliance with the Principles of Good Practice for Academic Degree and Certificate Programs and Credit Courses Offered at a Distance (Principles of Good Practice).

Study Abroad and Study-in-America Courses

The Coordinating Board defines study abroad courses as “off-campus, academic credit instruction which is delivered outside the United States primarily to regular on-campus students.” Study-in-America courses are defined as “off-campus, academic credit instruction which is delivered outside Texas but in the United States primarily to regular on-campus students.” Institutions are required to certify that all courses meet the Coordinating Board’s Standards for Out-of-State and Out-of-Country Courses. Institutions certify compliance with those standards through an online reporting system. Links to the standards and the reporting system are below.

Off-Campus Educational Units

An Off-Campus Educational Unit is defined in Chapter 5, Subchapter D of Board rules as a subdivision under the management and control of an existing public university, university system, health-related institution or a combination of these units, hereinafter referred to as the parent institution(s), in a geographic setting separate from the parent institution(s). Off-campus education units include teaching sites, higher education centers, university system centers, Multi-Institutional Teaching Centers, regional academic health centers, branch campuses, and all other off-campus educational endeavors.

Institutional Report Information


Study Abroad / Study-In-America

Inquiries regarding study abroad and study-in-America should be directed to Andrew Lofters.

Email Andrew Lofters