Nonclassroom-based / independent study schools

UC faculty has established criteria for nonclassroom-based / independent study schools to establish and maintain an “a-g” course list. UC respects independent study schools’ unique circumstances and these requirements are designed to ensure their "a-g" approved courses meet faculty standards for college-preparatory coursework.

Independent study school vs. online school

The University’s policy on nonclassroom-based / independent study schools applies to any public, charter or private high school in which at least half of the students receive 80 percent of their instruction off campus. Schools and programs that provide all or most of their courses through Internet-based methods, with time and/or distance separating the teacher and student will instead abide by UC’s online school policy.

Institutional requirements

Nonclassroom-based / independent study schools are expected to meet the following criteria to maintain an "a-g" course list and offer "a-g" approved coursework:

  • Students are expected to spend at least one hour per week per “a-g” course engaged in interactive instruction and/or academic tutoring/advising. This instruction and/or support may be provided onsite or through virtual means.
  • Students taking an approved “a-g” course are expected to have regular access (i.e., at least weekly) to a teacher who is a subject expert teacher* in that subject area, whether in person or by phone or email. The teacher should be available to answer students’ questions about curriculum, explain assignments and provide feedback on student work.
  • Students taking an approved “a-g” course should receive prompt responses to inquiries (i.e., by the end of the following school day), whether in person or by phone or e-mail, from a qualified staff member.
  • Students should be assessed to ensure mastery of the content standards. Acceptable assessments include, but are not limited to, tests, essays, projects, research papers, presentations and exams. All courses must require a final exam or a significant final project.
  • Major assessments (i.e., unit tests, final exams) shall be proctored by a qualified professional (e.g., a school teacher, administrator, counselor or paraprofessional who fulfills an instructional role, librarian, university personnel or test center administrator).
  • Student work shall be evaluated by an impartial professional who has been actively involved in the student’s learning process.

* A subject expert teacher is defined as an instructor who has taught in a particular subject area for at least three years at the high school or postsecondary level OR has a teaching credential and a bachelor’s or advanced degree in the subject area OR has been certified as a Highly Qualified Teacher under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Course review

Courses submitted for “a-g” approval from nonclassroom-based / independent study schools are reviewed using the same "a-g" course criteria as classroom-based courses.

New nonclassroom-based / independent study schools

New independent study schools are required to meet the same institutional requirements and follow the same process for establishing an “a-g” course list as all other new schools. Additional questions verifying the school’s alignment and compliance with the University’s nonclassroom-based / independent study policy are included in the School Registration Form.

Online schools will follow a process separate from classroom-based and other independent study schools to establish their "a-g" course lists.