Teaching for CGS: Frequently Asked Questions

What types of courses does CGS offer?

When are face-to-face courses scheduled, and how often do they meet?

Who is eligible to take courses at CGS?

Why should I teach an online course?

What are the necessary qualifications for teaching an online course?

What is the process for proposing an online course?

How long does the approval process take?

What is the process for developing an online course?

Is there training and support available?

Who should I contact if I am interested in teaching at CGS?


1. In addition to evening face-to-face courses, the College of General Studies (CGS) also offers three types of online/distance education courses:

  • Web (fully online; includes weekly interactions and assignments);
  • Hybrid (online with weekly interactions and assignments, and one or more required on-campus workshops);
  • Self-Paced (limited online instruction and one to three on-campus workshops)

2. Face-to-face classes typically meet once a week in the evenings to accommodate the schedules of working students, with classes usually capped at 35 students.

3. While CGS courses are primarily developed and scheduled to meet the academic needs of CGS students, they are open to all University of Pittsburgh students just as undergraduate courses throughout the University are open to College of General Studies students.*

*Academic requirements and restrictions differ by course. Students are encouraged to see their advisor for more information. 

4. The online and hybrid courses offered through the College of General Studies are grounded in best practices in interactive teaching and student-centered learning. Online faculty members are a key to this program's success. Working with College of General Studies staff, faculty members have the opportunity to maximize the benefits of technology within the context of a traditional university setting, and the flexibility to create customized courses with support from the College of General Studies and the University Center for Teaching and Learning. 

College of General Studies online courses support the University of Pittsburgh's mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate programs, while offering individual faculty members a variety of personal and professional benefits:

  • Provides the opportunity to learn about the latest online teaching practices.
  • Connects you with a community of innovative individuals.
  • May qualify as a course overload.
  • Provides course development stipends.

As an online instructor for the College of General Studies, you will:

  • Provide students with world-class resources that can be viewed and studied 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Encourage collaborative learning and share your research with a community of learners.
  • Engage in scholarly interests in a new manner, which can facilitate fresh perspectives.
  • Participate in a course development process with a trained instructional designer/technologist.
  • Join a community of faculty in which you can engage and share ideas about online education and teaching.
  • Learn about and implement new technologies and online teaching strategies.

5. Please note that courses offered by CGS are the curriculum of academic departments throughout the University of Pittsburgh. Consequently, academic departments vet, hire, and, working with CGS Academic Affairs, assign instructors to teach the sections offered by our college. Faculty interested in online teaching should demonstrate training and experience in online course instruction. Academic department contact information can be found at this link: http://www.pitt.edu/academics/schools-colleges

6. 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 boryana.dobreva@pitt.edu

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 (boryana.dobreva@pitt.edu) 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 November

end of January


early March

end of April


end of July

end of September


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). 

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
Professional Organizations and Other Useful Links

CGS Online faculty are encouraged to take advantage of the professional development opportunities available to them through the College of General Studies and the University Center for Teaching and Learning. Some examples of such opportunities include individual consultations with a teaching and learning consultant, Blackboard workshops and trainings, and CGS faculty orientation sessions and roundtables. Instructors new to CGS Online should plan to meet with the CGS Director of Academic Programs and a teaching and learning consultant to discuss the type and level of training and support they will need prior and during teaching/developing their CGS online course. 

Academic Affairs Contact Information


Boryana Dobreva, Ph.D.
Director of Academic Programs

Leslie A. Hilliard
Program Assistant