Online Program Approval

The Provost approves online programs at UNT upon recommendation from the Associate Vice Provost for Learning Enhancement and the CLEAR Steering Committee. 

To begin the program approval process, please follow the steps outlined below at least nine months before the program is being offered:

  1. Prepare a program proposal with the consultation of the CLEAR staff, your department chair, and your dean.

  2. Next, send the following documents to CLEAR, Attention: Teresa Cox no later than eight months before the program goes into effect.  The documents will be submitted to the CLEAR Steering Committee for review and recommendations.  

    • Program proposal with the completed Program Proposal Cover Sheet
    • Letter of support from department chair and dean

  3. Plan to attend the next Steering Committee meeting to be present for discussion of your program proposal.  For information, contact Teresa Cox on meeting times.

  4. The Steering Committee will then make recommendations to the Associate Vice Provost for Learning Enhancement concerning the appropriateness of the proposed program for delivery via distributed learning.

  5. The Associate Vice Provost for Learning Enhancement forwards a recommendation to the President.


Program Proposal Example

Please use this proposal as a guide for creating your own course or program proposals.

The University of North Texas School of Community Service
Department of Applied Gerontology

A Plan to Offer the Master's Degree in Administration of Long-term Care and Retirement
Facilities Through Internet Instruction

Our Distance Learning Goals:

The promotional materials for the proposed program will contain the following statements relating to our distance learning goals:

  • Our primary goal is to provide students who cannot come to Denton, TX with a learning experience that is comparable to our on-campus programs in quality, scope, and relevance to serving the aged.
  • While the methods of communication are inherently different, students enrolling in our distance learning programs will experience the curriculum, instruction, and faculty guidance that have earned our program national recognition.
  • At graduation, distance learning students will share the knowledge, skills, and professionalism that have made our graduates leaders in the field of aging for more than three decades.


Population aging has become a central fact and force of modern life. Americans are leading longer and healthier lives than ever before.

  • At present there are almost 35 million Americans aged 65 and older. Together they account for nearly 13% of all Americans, compared to only 4% in 1900.
  • By 1996, the average life expectancy in the United States had climbed to 76 years, from less than 50 years at the turn of the century.
  • Within three decades, the aging of the "baby boom generation" will push the proportion of age%d Americans to nearly 22.
  • Our state, which already has one of the largest aged populations in the country, will see the number of older Texans explode during this period.

Throughout Texas and the nation, the growth of the older population has already led to an increase in health and social services tailored to the physical, social and financial needs of the elderly. This is especially true in the case of housing for the elderly, with retirement housing for independent elders, assisted living facilities for partially impaired elders, and skilled nursing facilities for the chronically ill.

Unfortunately, few administrators, nurses, social workers, or other professional staff have had access to gerontology or geriatrics as part of their training. As a result they rarely have the specialized knowledge or skills required to fully meet the needs of older residents. At present, there is little opportunity for fully-employed administrators and staff to obtain such training, especially in the state's rural communities.

The Department of Applied Gerontology, nationally recognized for training long-term care administrators for over three decades, proposes to make its master's program in long-term care available to these individuals through internet instruction. There is every indication that the proposed program is critically needed. Our department has consistently received requests for distance learning options when exhibiting its academic programs at professional long-term care meetings. Over three months this spring, we received 167 expressions of interest in response to a Texas-wide mailing about our plans for internet courses. In all, 127 of these were from outside the North Central Texas area. Recently, Texas announced that its non-academic option for pursuing licensure as a nursing home administrator would be phased out in January, 2000. This should make our distance learning initiative even more attractive to those seeking credentials as long-term care administrators.


Marketing will be essential to success of the proposed program. Recent and planned marketing steps include the following:

  • Posters describing our distance learning plans were distributed to 2,200 organizations serving Texas elders, including all retirement communities, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes in the state.
  • A new packet of informational materials on distance learning, including proposed courses, formats, schedules, hardware/software requirements, and related information has been designed for responding to requests for information.
  • Our departmental website has been extensively revised and a new page on distance learning opportunities added.
  • Our departmental website has been re-registered with all major internet search tools and distance learning added to our key search words.
  • Our department's portable exhibit will be revised to prominently feature distance learning.
  • Each department faculty member has identified an annual professional meeting (state or national) at which they will exhibit our academic programs, including our distance learning programs.
  • A number of practice-oriented journals in the field of long-term care have been contacted about the possibility of running stories about our distance learning initiatives.



Our THECB-approved master's degree in long-term care administration is a professional training program comprised of three core courses in basic gerontology (9 hrs.), four concept and skills-oriented courses in applied gerontology (13 hrs.), three courses on long-term care administration practice (9 hrs.), three business courses (6 hrs.), a Capstone Seminar (3 hrs), and a 1,000-hour internship (6 hrs.). Capstone Seminar requirements include a major project, a presentation on the project, and an oral comprehensive examination relating to the project. Successful completion of the Capstone Seminar signifies student "readiness to practice" in a structured internship. Completion of the internship qualifies the student to sit for the licensing examination in nursing home administration in Texas and several other states.

With two exceptions, the 46-credit-hour curriculum for the internet version of this degree will be identical to the program of study for on-campus students. The two exceptions relate to the handling of Social Gerontology and Psychology of Aging courses and the required business courses.

  • AGER 5700, Social Gerontology, is normally a prerequisite for entering our program, but one that may be met concurrently with the student's regular coursework. AGER 5860, Psychology of Aging, is normally required of all students. Because no distance learning version of the psychology course is presently available, all distance learning students will meet these requirements by taking AGER 5750, Processes of Aging, which covers the most essential material from each of these courses.
  • On-campus students are normally required to take 6 hrs of business courses including ACCT 5130, Accounting for Management (3 hrs); MGMT 5070, Management Issues (1.5 hrs); and BLAW 5050, Legal, Regulatory, and Ethical Environment of Business (1.5 hrs). Distance learning students will be given the option of taking comparable courses in an accredited program at a local university or via internet-based instruction.

The internet versions of the courses required to offer this distance learning degree will be phased in over a three-year period. Thereafter, each course will be offered as an internet course at least once in any three-year period. Because nearly all of the courses in this degree are required, and because each course is free-standing, students may initiate study towards the degree at the beginning of any semester and be assured of completing the degree within three years with consistent effort.

Initially, when the courses for this degree are scheduled as internet courses, they will be given only as internet courses, enrolling distance and non-distance learning students alike. We believe that this approach will ensure a comparable educational experience as the courses are developed. In time, growing enrollment may require that separate distance learning sections of these courses be established.

Since the Department is normally able to secure paid internships for its students pursuing this degree, the internship typically marks the transition to full-time employment in the field. Experienced, licensed long-term care administrators pursuing this degree are usually allowed to substitute 6 hours of elective coursework for their internship. Additional electives from other Applied Gerontology programs should be in place by the time this need arises.

Program of Study

The phase-in of the internet versions of the courses for this degree will be as follows:


Fall, 1999

AGER 5750 Processes of Aging (3 hrs)
MGMT **** Management Management Issues (1.5 hrs)
BLAW **** Legal, Regulatory, and Ethical Environment of Business (1.5 hrs)

Spring, 2000

AGER 5780 Federal, State, and Local Programs in Aging (3 hrs)
ACCT **** Accounting for Management (3 hrs)

Summer, 2000

AGER 5400 Health Delivery Systems (3 hrs)


Fall, 2000

AGER 5600 Housing for the Elderly: Planning, Public Policy and Research (3 hrs)
AGER 5710 Health Aspects of Human Aging (3 hrs)

Spring, 2001

AGER 5300 Computer Applications in Long-term Care (4 hrs)
AGER 5740 Financial Issues in Aging Administration (3 hrs)

Summer, 2001

AGER 5770 Program Evaluation in Aging Services [or other elective] (3 hrs)


Fall, 2001

AGER 5810 Administration of Long-term Care and Retirement Facilities I (3 hrs)
AGER 5940 Pro-seminar on Applications in Practice [Capstone Course] (3 hrs)

Spring, 2002

AGER 5820 Administration of Long-term Care and Retirement Facilities II (3 hrs)
AGER 5840 Internship in Administration of Programs in Aging (3 hrs)

Summer, 2002

AGER 5850 Internship in Administration of Programs in Aging (3 hrs)


Instructional Challenges, Interaction, Comparability

Course will be taught via the internet using WebCT. While the exact format for instruction may vary from course to course, the following techniques are likely to be employed in most courses.

  • The provision of written courses materials via the WebCT site, assigned textbooks, and UNT's electronic reserve system.
  • Computerized lectures and presentations, streaming audio and video, and VHS tapes.
  • Chatroom-based class discussion and telephone conference calls.
  • Innovative assignments conducted in the student's local community.
  • Student-centered research utilizing world wide websites and local library resources.
  • Web-based, written, and oral examinations.
  • Personal communication with instructors via electronic mail.

To date, two courses in the proposed program have been offered as internet-based courses. AGER 5780 (Federal, State and Local Programs in Aging) was offered along with a regular classroom section of the same course in Spring, 1998. It had an enrollment of eight students from locations as far away as Friendswood, TX and Nashville, TN. AGER 5710 (Health Aspects of Human Aging) was offered as the only section of the course in Spring, 1999. It had an enrollment of 21 students from as far away as San Angelo, Austin, and Lubbock, TX.

Experience from these courses has shown that creative instruction (e.g., simulations, cases analyses, local exercises), the appropriate mix of technologies (including "low-tech" options when appropriate), and clear learning objectives for each section of a course help to ensure a comparable experience for distance learning students. The learning objectives are particularly helpful since they focus instruction on the concepts, facts, and skills students are to master regardless of instructional technique. The use of common textbooks and the infusion of distance learning technologies (e.g., internet-based research) into traditional classes also tend to promote comparability between the distance learning and non-distance learning classes. A limited "window" for accessing web-based materials and focused weekly discussions with required participation have been found to foster regular participation of students and a sense of active involvement.


The following faculty hold central responsibilities in the existing master's program in long-term care administration and will extend their responsibilities to encompass the proposed program. Faculty with master's degrees hold terminal practice degrees in the field of gerontology. Mr. Durand and Dr. Wentzel are licensed nursing facility administrators who share a half-time faculty line. In addition to their teaching responsibilities, they supervise the internship program for this degree. Dr. Harding has a practice background including ten years of experience in developing and administering subsidized housing for low-income elders. Ms. Reban is an experienced Geriatric Nurse Practitioner who teaches our core course Health Aspects of Human Aging.

Kenneth Durand, M.S., Administration of Long-term Care and Retirement Facilities,
University of North Texas
Susan Eve, Ph.D., Sociology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Cheryl Harding, Ph.D., Housing, Texas Woman's University
Stan Ingman, Ph.D., Sociology, University of Pittsburgh
Richard Lusky, Ph.D., Sociology, University of Connecticut
Ann Reban, M.S.N., Geriatric Nurse Practitioner, University of Texas at Arlington
Keith Turner, Ph.D., Urban Planning, University of Cincinnati
Marcela Wentzel, Ph.D., Education, University of North Texas
Dale Yeatts, Ph.D., Sociology, University of Virginia

Resources and Faculty Support:

Course Development

With sufficient planning, training, and assistance from Center for Learning Enhancement, Assessment, and Redesign staff, full-time faculty should be able to transition their graduate course materials to a distance learning format over a two-year period. One key to the success of this strategy will be incorporating distance learning technology into regular on-campus courses in advance of the distance learning version of the course. Another important factor will be the inclusion of a part-time teaching assistant to help faculty with the extra instructional demands associated with distance learning. It is expected that courses normally taught by adjunct faculty may require additional attention. In the past, this has involved the provision of a supplemental stipend during the semester that the distance learning version of the course is developed, as well as practical suggestions and assistance from full-time faculty who are more experienced in distance learning techniques.

Funding Model

The University's provisional distance learning funding model would, based on the current fee structure and 20 enrolled in-state students, generate a balance of income over costs for each of our internet courses. It is expected that the majority of this balance, which would be returned to the School of Community Service, would be available to our department for application to a faculty incentive system or other indirect costs associated with implementation of the program. If approved, the estimated cost/revenue figures for each course would be:


Tuition income: 20 @ $282 = $5,640
DL Fee income: 20 @ $60 = $1,200
Total Income: $6,840


Streaming Audio/Video 20 @ $20 = $ 400
.5 Teaching Assistant $1,000
CLEAR 7% of tuition $ 395
Subtotal Costs $1,795
UNT 10% of cost overhead $ 180
Total Costs: $1,975
Estimated Income-Costs (Returned to School) $4,865

Center for Learning Enhancement, Assessment, and Redesign

With adequate training and experience with WebCT, Applied Gerontology faculty should become fairly self-sufficient in transferring their course materials to an internet format. In addition, department staff have also taken training in Microsoft FrontPage in order provide faculty with at least some "in house" assistance. Assuming that this level of faculty skill with distance learning technology is achieved, the principal assistance required from the CLEAR will help in producing the high-quality photographs, illustrations, and audio/video clips required for a polished course. It is hoped that the cost of these services can be partially covered with a second UNT "Teaching with Technology" grant.

Faculty Preparation

By May of 1999, Professors Harding, Lusky, Reban, Eve, and Yeatts had each taken at least one of the courses on web-based instruction offered by UNT's Center for Learning Enhancement, Assessment, and Redesign. The remaining faculty will enroll in the appropriate CLEAR classes well in advance of their scheduled distance learning teaching. Additionally, all faculty in the department are being encouraged to transition to "distance learning mode" by employing technologies commonly used for distance learning (websites, Powerpoint lectures, e-mail communication with students, etc.) in their regular on-campus classes.

Access to Instructional Technology

Over the past three years, a Teaching with Technology Grant and generous Prop II allocations from the School of Community Service have allowed our department to assemble essential equipment and software for producing distance learning materials. As a result, our faculty now have ready access to a digital video camera, flat-bed scanners, and screen-capture and graphics software. Additional software for website construction is available on our school's network. At this time, all faculty have Pentium-equipped computers operating at 200 MHz or better, and most have 17-inch monitors.

Faculty Compensation

As proposed, internet instruction will be developed and integrated into the regular teaching load of Applied Gerontology faculty. Should enrollment expand to the point where independent sections of distance learning courses are required, the program will seek additional faculty positions to cover the overload and/or adopt an incentive system to ensure faculty participation in distance learning. Under this system, faculty would accrue compensation or release time from regular courses according to the extent of their teaching overload in the distance learning program. The Department of Applied Gerontology would look to the School of Community Service for general guidance in establishing the provisions and formula regulating such compensation. The costs of providing the compensation would be drawn from the funding stream generated by the program.

Ownership of Materials

The development of this program presumes joint investment on the part of Applied Gerontology faculty and the University. While the precise character of the joint venture may vary from course to course, the 50%/50% model offered by the university will serve as the starting point for any negotiation that may be required. This model, which was used in our first two distance learning courses, provides for continued use of distance learning course materials by both the course instructor and the university, should the instructor leave UNT.

Student Services and Resources for Learning:

Admission, Registration, and Advising

Persons seeking admission to UNT in order to pursue this degree will follow the same application procedures as other prospective students and will utilize UNT's teleregistration system to enroll for classes. Advising from their assigned faculty advisor or from the department's Academic Program Coordinator will be available to students via telephone and electronic mail.

Training in Instructional Technology

All students enrolling in this program will be directed to the information posted on UNT's WebCT site concerning minimum hardware and software requirements, and to the Student Guide to WebCT. They will receive additional guidance from course instructors in using the various technological tools available within specific courses.

Access to Materials

Most courses will employ textbooks available to distance learning students through the University Book Store. Instructors will rely heavily on internet publications and government documents for supplementary readings, linking such materials directly to their course websites. Permission will be secured when and as necessary to reproduce copyrighted materials on course websites and on UNT’s electronic reserve system. Additional copies of required films and videos will be requested for UNT's media library, and these films made available to distance learning students through local libraries on a rotating basis.

Access to Special Equipment

Not applicable.

Commitment for Support:

  • The instructional leader for the Department of Applied Gerontology's distance learning initiative, including the revision or creation of distributed learning coursework, is Dr. Richard Lusky, Ph.D., Chair of the Department.
  • In addition to completing their distance learning courses in Applied Gerontology, students must take the required 6 hours of business courses and complete a 1,000-hour internship at an approved long-term care facility. The program will facilitate meeting the first requirement by maintaining a list of approved distance learning business courses. Students will be able to draw upon our program's network of hundreds of alumni and facilities throughout Texas and the United States to find and complete a suitable internship.
  • The proposed program is committed to using WebCT, the Center for Learning Enhancement, Assessment, and Redesign's supported vehicle for internet-based instruction.
  • Dr. Lusky worked with Jenny Jopling and Patrick Pluscht in preparing this proposal.

Evaluation and Assessment:

  • Student learning will be assessed with the measures commonly used to evaluate graduate students (e.g., class participation, performance on tests, quality of written projects, etc.)
  • Student satisfaction will be assessed with the School of Community Service’s course evaluation instrument at the individual course level, and through exit interviews, and an alumni survey (normally conducted three years after graduation).
  • Faculty satisfaction and effectiveness of technology will be assessed through discussions at the department and school levels and in consultation with the CLEAR staff.
  • As noted above, announcements concerning plans for distance learning courses in gerontology have already been sent via regular mail to agencies and facilities serving the elderly in Texas. Additionally, information on distance learning opportunities is being placed on our departmental website.
  • It is anticipated that electronic mail, "chat room-style" discussion groups, and telephone contacts will be the primary means by which students in the program will keep in contact with each other and with personnel here on campus.