College of General Studies

Developing Online Courses

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CGS Online Course Proposal Process

The College of General Studies (CGS) works with University of Pittsburgh departments and faculty members to design, develop, and offer undergraduate courses in the online modality (hybrid and web). Priority is given to courses that meet and enhance CGS degree and certificate program requirements. Proposals are submitted by the instructor planning to develop and teach the course, with approval of the respective department chair.

The Director of Academic Programs coordinates the proposal process. Pitt faculty members interested in developing a CGS online course should review the information available on this website and contact Dr. Boryana Dobreva for further information at

7 Steps from Course Idea to Proposal Submission

  1. Begin by consulting with your department chair about the viability of your idea to develop and offer an online undergraduate course through CGS.
  2. Review recent CGS Online offerings to verify the course you have in mind has not already been developed.
  3. Review CGS degree and certificate program requirements to identify what needs your proposed course meets.
  4. Familiarize yourself with our approach to online learning and course development by reviewing our Guide for CGS Online Instructors and standards we use in evaluating online course design.
  5. Contact CGS Director of Academic Programs Boryana Dobreva ( with your ideas for a proposed course. She will advise you of the College's interest.
  6. When you come in to discuss your course, you will review CGS online policies and procedures, our expectations for collaborative course development, and examples from CGS online courses to help you see what your course might look like.
  7. Complete the Course Development Approval Form (to be provided at meeting) with your department chair's signature and submit it to Boryana Dobreva, along with a course syllabus and supporting course documents.

Please note that the initiation, preparation and administrative approval of course proposals may take anywhere between two and four months. Below is our timeline for proposal development and submissions, based on the anticipated term of initial course offering. 

CGS Timeline for Proposal Submissions

early Novemberend of JanuaryFALL LAUNCH
early Marchend of AprilSPRING LAUNCH
end of Julyend of SeptemberSUMMER LAUNCH

What’s Next?

Once the proposal to develop a CGS Online course is completed and approved, the Director will schedule an initial meeting to discuss a course design plan and a project schedule. Each course developer will have the opportunity to work closely with an instructional designer/technologist from PITT's University Center for Teaching and Learning (UCTL). 

The Online Course Development Process

Developing an online course is a demanding task that requires extensive planning, organization, and one’s ability to work within a schedule and meet deadlines. The development process is also team-driven and involves periodic meetings with the UCTL instructional designer as well as several stages of reviews by CGS Academic Affairs prior to final approval. CGS Online has, therefore, established several deadlines and benchmarks to ensure that the course will be ready at the start of the term in which you aim to offer it. For more information, consult our Guide for CGS Online Instructors.

Additional Course Development Materials

Listed below are several resources available to help you as you begin the proposal and course development process:

University Center for Teaching and Learning 
Blackboard Tip Sheets
External Resources
Professional Organizations and Other Useful Links