Online Program Development

Online programs at Georgetown, which include both degree and non-degree certificate programs, reflect the core educational mission of the university. They support the development of reflective lifelong learners and build on our tradition of excellence and innovation in teaching and learning.

These online programs provide the same academic rigor as on-campus offerings, and CNDLS strives to integrate all of the qualities of the Georgetown educational experience in the development of online courses. When students enroll in an online course through Georgetown, they can expect access to excellent faculty members, rigorous content, and tested course design that promotes reflection, integrative learning, and real-world applications.

Georgetown includes online education as part of the institution’s systems of governance and academic oversight, thus ensuring the integrity of online offerings. For a more comprehensive background on the compliance and governance issues that may influence the development of your online program, visit Online@GU. There you will also find information on the elements needed to prepare for the launch of your online program, including strategic planning, branding and marketing, enrollment management, student support, course development and implementation, technology integration, and data and analytics. Samples of Georgetown's current online programs can be viewed on the highlighted course page.

What are some curricular and course considerations when developing an online program?

If you are considering bringing your academic program online, there are several curricular and course-level considerations to take into account. First, you should assess whether a fully online program would be optimal or whether a hybrid program would better serve faculty and student needs. Fully online programs allow students to take courses from geographically remote locations without any need to come to campus. Hybrid programs take advantage of both on-campus and online learning spaces. Depending on the programmatic approach, the considerations for developing an online program will vary.

When evaluating whether to move entire programs online, consider the following topics:

  • Curriculum mapping and assessment. What content modules and assessments within individual courses will best facilitate and measure learning?
  • Course-level alignment (outcomes, content, assessment). How do courses within your program work together to build students’ knowledge and skills?
  • Learning space and technology. What learning environments and technologies would work best to optimize your students’ learning experiences?
  • Student and academic support services. What services would be available to support your students in individual courses or more broadly throughout their program?
  • Faculty support services. What support will your faculty need as they move into an online teaching environment?
  • Faculty and student development. What resources do you currently have available or will you need to create to help faculty and students develop when it comes to online learning?
  • Monitoring and evaluation including institutional and learning analytics. What measurable data will you need to gather to assess program outcomes in the online space?

CNDLS can offer expertise to help you throughout the process—from exploration before the program’s development, to the design and development of individual courses or programs, to assessment and support once the program has launched online. The internal Georgetown team has over 15 years of experience leading pedagogical research and design in traditional and online classrooms. That means you have direct access to experienced designers who can customize the educational experience for your students.

What is the CNDLS learning design approach and methodology?

The CNDLS approach to online program development connects the learning process and learning outcomes at multiple levels—institutional, curricular, course, and individual. This integrative approach enables students, faculty, and staff to explore intermediate process outcomes and to adjust the direction of the instructional and learning strategies during a course of study. CNDLS follows an intentional learning-design process for the development and redesign of online programs to examine the advantages and limitations of each learning space. This allows us to mobilize a variety of tools to support student learning. As a result, an individual student’s learning experience not only is academically rigorous but also incorporates opportunities for formative reflection.

The process for online program development consists of four phases:

The Exploratory Phase

During the exploratory phase, the CNDLS team meets with program directors to talk through the needs of the program and construct a development plan for building out courses within the program. By assessing a program’s individual needs, we can customize services and outline a fee structure that will take into account all the support elements we will provide throughout the development process. Contact for more information.

Design and Development

CNDLS offers a collaborative, personalized experience when building out courses. Our approach to course design encompasses an individualized, tailored, "boutique" development process. A team of experienced instructional and media designers provide consultations with course teams and course faculty to create the most effective and engaging online learning experience for your students.

Teaching the Course

When teaching a course online, faculty can experiment with a variety of new pedagogical methods for engaging students. Online courses require a significant investment of faculty time, and the delineation of “class time” may not be entirely analogous to your sense of this concept in a traditional face-to-face course. Since all student-faculty interaction will take place online, faculty members teaching online may need to provide more guidance and feedback to students in written form, and must be prepared to participate in course activities, such as discussion boards and blogs, online.

Throughout the course design process, the CNDLS team will work with you to help refine your strategies for teaching online, providing resources and information on effective and innovative practices for this space. Once a course launches, we continue to serve as a resource for faculty to address any teaching concerns that arise.


Assuring quality is a top priority for CNDLS, and our team of learning design, assessment, and media specialists are available to assist faculty once an online course or program has launched. After the course has completed its first run, we facilitate an in-depth review with the course instructor and program director to assess any adjustments that need to be made for the next iteration.

How does CNDLS assess quality and impact?

The CNDLS design approach is focused on enhancing both teaching and learning in the online platform, and we regularly assess our work to ensure optimal outcomes for both. We use pre- and post-course surveys, individualized for each GeorgetownX course, to assess student engagement with the overall course design so we can identify areas for improvement. We also help faculty and program staff identify measurable evidence via each course management system’s analytics data, so course instructors and program staff can better monitor student learning outcomes online.

In addition, Georgetown University is an institutional member of both QualityMatters and the Online Learning Consortium. Both of these external organizations offer rubrics for reviewing the readiness of the institution to offer online programs and the quality of course design.

Schedule a consultation

To learn more about how CNDLS can support the development of your online program, contact us to schedule a consultation at For a more comprehensive list of considerations for online program development, visit Online@GU.