QM Program Certification Overview

Going beyond an initial focus on course design, QM has created a series of Program Certifications—using QM-Managed Program Reviews—related to online teaching and learning. These certifications draw upon the knowledge gained from reviewing several thousand courses from hundreds of institutions over more than a decade. There are Two Paths to Program Certification: Program Review or Candidacy + Program Review. Programs that achieve any of the individual Program Certifications will receive a unique seal that they can display on their website and printed materials and will be listed on the QM-Certified Programs page.

The QM Program Certification process consists of four individual certifications that online Higher Education Programs may seek:

  1. Online Program Design
  2. Online Teaching Support
  3. Online Learner Support
  4. Online Learner Success

These are broken down into criteria, evidence, and annotations in the Annotated Program Criteria PDF.


Program Certification Categories

The first three certifications focus on critical inputs to the delivery of quality online programs. As such, they follow the pattern of established QM course design Rubrics. The fourth certification, however, directly addresses program outcomes. Can a case be made that learners going through the program are achieving levels of success during and beyond the completion of the program that exceed what they might otherwise have accomplished?

Programs may choose to seek certification in areas of strength, or they may commit to seeking all four certifications over time. As a further recognition, QM will designate those programs that attain certification in all four areas over a period of three years or less as Exemplary Online Programs.

Online Program Design

The Online Program Design Certification recognizes programs that are designed around measurable learning objectives or competencies. Design or revision of individual courses within the program aligns with program objectives, involves QM-Certified personnel, and is consistent with the relevant QM Rubric.

Additional Requirements:

Newly designed courses must be developed according to QM Standards.  Older courses must be revised through a combination of the following practices:

  • Revisions that embody the relevant QM Rubric(s)
  • A required post-revision course review - official, Preparatory Review or qualified internal*
  • A statement that any future qualified internal QM course reviews will be conducted by teams of two or three QM-trained reviewers
  • A statement that all courses in the programs seeking certification will be reviewed at least once every five years, based on the most recent QM Rubric

*A qualified internal course review uses QM tools and is conducted by a minimum of 2 reviewers who have completed either th