Center for Educational Innovation

Academic Affairs and Provost

Develop an Online Course

Develop a Credit-bearing Online Course

This page is designed to assist U of M faculty, staff, and academic units in creating new courses that meet University and Higher Learning Commission requirements, assigning online academic credits, and  promoting the development of high quality courses that include substantive interaction between students and instructor.

When considering the development of a new online course (or converting a classroom-based course to online), there are four intersecting steps that occur sequentially.


1. Administrative approval

Begin by consulting with your department head (or equivalent) to seek course approval, and to find out who in your unit will assist you with the ECAS submission process.


2. Design and development process

Once you have approval to develop an online course, consult your collegiate or campus academic technology group to determine how they can support you.  Many academic units have instructional designers, as well as specific templates and guidelines to assist you. If not, request help at  For academic policy questions, contact Leslie Schiff, Office of Undergraduate Education (Twin Cities undergraduate courses and Crookston, Duluth, Morris, Rochester referrals) or Karen Starry, Graduate School (Twin Cities graduate courses).



Use these documents to familiarize yourself with standards and key features of quality online and blended courses.

Standards for online and blended courses Use this document to help (re)design your online or blended course to ensure it meets University and federal guidelines. 
Key attributes of a quality online course Use this document to incorporate current evidence-based good practice features in your course.
Determining instructional time, student work, and appropriate credits for online and blended courses   The ECAS submission process will require you to justify the number of credits you seek. Use this document to ensure that you have included adequate instructional time, student work, and number of credits for your online course. Examples are provided for academic work/activities including those designed  to promote higher levels of student engagement.


These resources were created collaboratively by representatives from academic and technology support units, Academic Technology Support Services, the Center for Educational Innovation, and the Office of Undergraduate Education (Twin Cities). Your feedback on these versions of the documents will contribute to keeping them current and useful.


3. ECAS submission, review and approval

ECAS is the system by which individual courses are proposed, reviewed and approved. Use ECAS for both new online courses and conversion of existing courses to online or blended.  

New and existing credit courses — Check with your unit’s ECAS support staff about entering your proposed course into the ECAS system. Once approved, this person will enter the  information into the PeopleSoft system and the class schedule. Advance planning is required (up to a full year) to ensure that the course will be available for registration in the appropriate term.

The sample syllabus for PHCL 4343, a 3 cr. hybrid course, shows the Twin Cities undergraduate curriculum committee how the instructor determined the number of credits proposed.


4. Build your course  

Contact your collegiate or campus academic technology group or for assistance. See also Resources for Online and Blended Learning.


Non-credit courses

Most of the information listed above is also relevant for non-credit courses. There are, however, several important differences. Non-credit courses:

  • do not require entry into the ECAS system
  • do not require regular and substantive faculty-student interaction or justification of credits; and
  • use the Destiny One Registration System (DORS) instead of PeopleSoft for registration and scheduling (ask the DORS contact in your unit to enter your course information).


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