CU Online

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University of Colorado Denver: CU Online
Seal of University of Colorado
Established 1996
Students 8,501 for the 2011-2012 academic year
Location Office and administrators in Denver and Aurora, Colorado, United States
Technology Canvas

CU Online is one of the first fully accredited online education programs, created in 1996 by the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus (CU Denver). With CU Online, the pedagogy of CU Denver faculty has been extended globally, allowing local students as well as international students to partake in the same education.

Initially launching with three online courses, CU Online has expanded its catalog to over 450 CU Denver online courses, with 18 [1] full CU Denver degree programs and 12 certificates that can be completed entirely online. The online courses themselves are considered just another option for CU Denver students, as they offer the same credit and are taught by the same on campus professors. The student-faculty ratio also remains the same for both on campus and online courses [2] (roughly 17:1). In all, there have been 160,002 students from 1996-2012 who have taken online classes at CU Denver.

Course structure[edit]

The online courses run on a traditional semester schedule, where they start and stop at the same time as the on campus CU Denver classes (Fall, Spring, Summer). As such, the online courses are not "self paced", but rather are "asynchronous", which means students can login anytime of day or night. The amount of time students are expected to be logged in is dependent upon the professor.

Each online course is developed to convey and teach the same content and material as its on campus counterpart, but in a way that’s conducive to the electronic medium. Each student is assigned a homepage in order to:

  • Access courses
  • Participate in class discussions (threaded discussions and ‘chat’ with peers)
  • Find assignments, lectures and exams

CU Online employs Canvas by Instructure. Canvas is Cloud based, and CU Denver uses it for its completely online courses as well a supplement for the on campus courses in the form of blended learning, which means it doesn’t distinguish between supplemental course use and blended/hybrid courses. With Canvas, professors can record audio and video messages, utilize IOS and Android, RSS support and web conferencing.


Online courses are typically divided into units of class discussions (ongoing posts of classmate queries and comments), downloadable assignments and quizzes. What students are actually graded on is based on the course and the professor, however, class participation is usually required in the form of threaded discussions. Similar to a traditional on campus course, the content of the course is subject to the discretion of the professor.


With CU Online, lectures are delivered from various formats, such as:

  • Streaming audio, video, YouTube, etc.
  • Discussion boards and blogs
  • Multimedia slide shows
  • Email


Exams are taken and administered in a variety of ways. They can be administered "online" by using course software with an internet browser (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, etc.), as a “take home” exam where the exam is printed out and handed in, or "proctored" by outside parties, instructor, or the teaching assistant (TA) at a designated location. A 24/7 help desk is also available for both students and faculty.


All online courses may be applied to a degree program at CU Denver or may be transferred to a student’s home institution, pending approval. The credits earned through CU Online are identical to credits earned through traditional on-campus courses; even if a student completes an entire program online, the degree is awarded with the same benefactor, University of Colorado.

CU Online offers courses in liberal arts and science, arts and media, business, education, engineering, public affairs, and architecture and planning. Below are the complete degree programs and certificates that can be completed exclusively through online courses:

Business School
  • Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.)
  • Master of Science in Global Energy Management (M.S.)
  • Master of Science in Information Systems (M.S.)
  • Master of Science in Management and Organization with an emphasis in Sustainability (M.S.)
College of Engineering and Applied Science
  • Master of Engineering (M. Eng) with an emphasis in Geographic Information Systems
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Bachelor of Arts, English Writing (B.A.)
  • Bachelor of Arts, Sociology (B.A.)
  • Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Certificate
College of Nursing
  • Certificate in Palliative Care
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing
  • Health Care Informatics Certificate
  • International Certificate in Human Care and Healing
  • Master of Science in Nursing – Informatics option
  • Master of Science in Nursing Leadership and Healthcare Systems (iLEAD)
  • RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S)
School of Education and Human Development
  • Early Childhood Special Education, Specialist License
  • Early Literacy Certificate
  • Designing and Implementing Web-based Learning Environments Certificate
  • Master of Arts in Information and Learning Technologies (ILT) with an emphasis in eLearning Design and Implementation (M.A.)
  • Master of Arts in Information and Learning Technologies (ILT) with an emphasis in School Library (M.A.)
  • Special Education Generalist Licensure
School of Public Affairs
  • Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.)
  • Non-Profit Management Certificate

Faculty and Support[edit]

  • CU Denver had 223 instructors teach online courses in 2011-2012
  • 93% of CU Denver instructors/assistant professors/professors who teach online have a Masters degree or higher


External links[edit]