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L&S Policy on Offering Undergraduate Class Sections with Online or Hybrid Modality

This page provides information about the L&S policy on offering online or hybrid undergraduate courses in the fall or spring semesters and the required approval process. This policy was updated January 2021, to include hybrid courses and clarify review procedures.


L&S departments must request approval to schedule hybrid or online undergraduate class sections, in fall or spring semesters.


Each class section (lecture, discussion, lab) is assigned an instructional mode in SIS. Please see the campus definitions for the three types of modalities: in-person (P), hybrid (WC), and online (WO)
L&S departments must request permission to teach class sections in the online or hybrid format when they meet all of the following conditions:
  • the course is designed for undergraduates
  • the course is offered in fall or spring semester
  • one or more sections of the course are hybrid or online
  • the course has not yet been approved (or provisionally approved) by L&S to be offered in these modes 


The College of Letters & Science is the largest undergraduate college at UW-Madison and teaches over 80% of freshman and sophomore credits across the university. Given our strong teaching mission and the number of students we serve, L&S must actively support and enhance UW-Madison’s excellence as primarily a residential institution that offers a high-quality in-person experience for all undergraduates. This includes making sure that during the fall/spring semesters:
  • the vast majority of the undergraduate courses we teach have substantive and significant regular face-to-face meeting times, both at the college and departmental level
  • our undergraduates have access to in-person courses that meet their program and degree requirements
  • our first and second-year students enroll primarily in class sections with substantial face-to-face meeting times
Online activities, materials and experiences are common in L&S courses as part of the many excellent methods our instructors use to engage and teach students. However, given UW-Madison’s identity as a residential experience, we must be strategic about offering courses that substitute a majority or more of in-person interactions with online activities. When L&S departments do teach undergraduate courses with online or hybrid sections, we want to ensure:
  • they are created for specific pedagogical reasons that serve students, such as to use instructional capacities or support student learning in a way not possible through a face-to-face model.
  • their design aligns with current practices in online education. L&S Foundational Criteria for Online & Hybrid Instruction provides a starting place for course design. they have been assigned by a department process an instructor who is qualified to teach online or hybrid courses
Summer offerings are exempt from this policy; there are no summer residential expectations and summer term enrollment is optional for most undergraduates.


Departments wishing to offer an undergraduate online or hybrid class sections in a fall or spring semesters must submit a request to do so.

Provisional approval for courses converted to online and offered prior to Fall 2020

Eventually all courses must have approval to be offered to have online or hybrid sections (by Fall 2023). However, courses that were recently offered online in a fall/spring semester (Fall 2017 or after, and before to Fall 2020 in a fall/spring semester) were automatically given provisional approval to continue to be offered until Fall 2023. To see whether a course in your department has provisional or permanent approval, see if your department, see L&S undergraduate courses approved to be offered online in Fall or Spring semesters

Additional Information

For additional information or questions, please contact Kimbrin Cornelius, Assisitant Dean for Teaching and Learning (L&S), at Also please see Request to offer an online or hybrid undergraduate course during the academic year; list of approved courses .

Keywordsundergraduate, online, teaching, teach, fall, spring, academic year, distance, course proposal, course proposals, offer, schedule, hybrid   Doc ID95003
OwnerKimbrin C.GroupL&S KB
Created2019-10-15 15:29:20Updated2023-10-02 09:05:41
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