Online Course Sharing Consortium

About the Consortium

The CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium provides access to technology that facilitates online course sharing among CIC members that have similar curricular goals and concerns for academic quality as well as a commitment to the liberal arts. The Consortium helps colleges address immediate course availability issues; improve revenue, retention, and completion; and streamline payments and reporting. Academic leaders can quickly implement strategies to improve student retention and graduation rates while maintaining complete control of their own curriculum, and administrators can digitally transfer credits and financial aid. Through an arrangement with College Consortium, a technology company that developed a platform for cross-registrations, CIC members that participate can access additional, flexible course options to support students’ timely academic progress.

Request additional information about the Consortium. An Academic Account Executive from College Consortium will contact you to discuss your institution’s needs in more detail. If you have questions for CIC staff, please contact CIC Senior Advisor Norval Kneten at or CIC Vice President and Director of the Online Course Sharing Consortium Carol Schuler at

Webinar Series

In September 2019, CIC will host a webinar about the CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium and academic advising.

Webinar #2

On Thursday, June 20, 2019, CIC hosted a free webinar that addressed key operational questions about the CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium. Featured are CIC partner College Consortium and Catawba Colleges' Jeff Bowe, Dean of Distance and Online Education, and Kim Smith, Registrar, who provide insights on best practices and opportunities for online and registrar's offices as well as tips for a successful launch of online course sharing. To learn how the Consortium may help your institution improve outcomes, please select the links below to access the webinar recording and presentation slides.

View a recording of the June 20 webinar.

PDFDownload the June 20 Webinar Slides

Webinar #1

On Thursday, March 28, 2019, CIC hosted a free webinar that addressed questions about its Online Course Sharing Consortium and discussed benefits of the Consortium, how to participate, and examples of ways in which your students and institution may use the Consortium's services. Also shared is Eureka College's successful strategy for using summer enrollments to retain students. To learn more about the Consortium and to hear information and ideas from our partners at College Consortium and Eureka College President Jamel Wright, select the links below to access a copy of the webinar recording and presentation slides.

View a recording of the March 28 webinar.

PDFDownload the March 28 Webinar Slides

​Press Coverage

Online Course Sharing Spurs Student Success
University Business, February 21, 2019

Teaching Newsletter
Chronicle of Higher Education, December 4, 2018

Your Course Is My Course, Too
Inside Higher Ed, November 29, 2018

Wired Campus Newsletter
Chronicle of Higher Education, November 29, 2018

Benefits of Membership

Institutions can participate in the Consortium as Home Institutions, as Teaching Institutions, or as both Home and Teaching Institutions. Revenue sharing between the Teaching and Home Institutions benefits both financially. Course development and faculty approval processes mirror typical course adoption practices on campus to ensure that shared courses meet institutional standards.

​For Home Institutions

The Home Institution selects the online courses offered through the CIC Consortium that advisors can offer to students, and it provides verification, approval, and oversight of credits. Students enroll and pay tuition through their Home Institution and qualify for pre-approved course credit and financial aid, just as they do for on-campus courses. A portion of the Home Institution tuition is transferred by College Consortium’s technology directly to the Teaching Institution, resulting in shared revenue for the course. The process is far less cumbersome than traditional options for supplementing degree pathways, where students assume the burden of choosing appropriate courses and seeking the transfer of credits.

For Teaching Institutions

Teaching Institutions within the CIC Consortium are colleges with online teaching capacity that offer empty “seats” online to Home Institutions. Teaching Institutions determine which courses to make available to other members of the CIC Consortium as well as the course content, stated learning outcomes, and other measures of course effectiveness. Like Home Institutions, they can improve revenue by filling under-enrolled sections of critical courses through fee-based cross enrollments within the Consortium, which provides technology that transfers a portion of the Home Institution’s tuition to the Teaching Institution.

Institutional Strategies

​The CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium can help institutions advance several institutional strategies, key among them the creation of summer and short semester options for students who need specific courses to stay on track to graduate, including at-risk students as well as those who seek to accelerate their academic progress. Other groups of institutions have found that online course sharing provides a means for supplementing majors when campuses cannot fully sustain under-enrolled programs.

More Options for Students

On-Time College Completion

Change of Major, Adding a Minor or Specialization
Students frequently need courses that are not available within a current semester. Whatever the issue, this lack of availability prevents on-time graduation. This, in turn, negatively affects the institution’s graduation rate.

Action Steps:
  • Create a “backup curriculum” of Teaching Institution courses that includes courses that are pre-approved by the Home Institution
  • Offer courses from Teaching Institutions only when equivalent courses are unavailable at the Home Institution
  • List backup courses on a student portal defined by the Home Institution for students to explore
  • Monitor student progress for graduation

Course Oversights and Enrollment Mistakes
On occasion, students learn just prior to graduation that they have not met all requirements. This is usually due to inadvertent oversights by the student or by the institution. The unexpected cancellation of an anticipated graduation can be traumatic for the student.

Action Steps:
  • Select Teaching Institution courses with schedules that will fit the immediate needs of students

Walking at Graduation
Students often are approved to “walk” at graduation without completing requirements. More frequently than we would wish, students do not later complete their requirements. Sometimes, their graduation memory persuades them that they have actually graduated. Recognizing that they don’t have a degree when a transcript is ordered can be devastating.

Action Steps:
  • Create a plan for immediately fulfilling graduation requirements
  • Meet the requirements through Teaching Institution courses
  • Monitor completion of course requirements

Options for Non-Traditional Students
Institutions may have a limited number of courses available for nontraditional students. Steady progress and completion of degree requirements can be difficult.

Action Steps:
  • Create pathways to completion through Teaching Institution courses
  • Monitor completion of course requirements

Program Changes

Supporting Specialized Academic Programs
Some academic programs require faculty members with specialized credentials. Retirements and position changes can leave holes in the curriculum. Replacing such faculty members or hiring suitable adjuncts can be problematic. Canceling these programs may be inadvisable.

Action Steps:
  • Fill gaps in specialized academic programs through Teaching Institution courses
  • Review Teaching Institution courses to quickly reveal opportunities
  • Negotiate with Teaching Institutions to add needed courses

New Concentrations and Specialized Minors
Prospective students often are looking for specific combinations of programs. These students may not consider your institution if you lack the programs they want. Adding and supporting additional programs can be cost prohibitive.

Action Steps:
  • Select Teaching Institution courses to fill the gaps in concentrations and specialized minors
  • Test student interest in additional concentrations and specialized minors with Teaching Institution courses before dedicating additional resources
  • Review Teaching Institution courses to reveal opportunities

Testing New Program Areas
Adding new programs can be expensive, and the consequences of launching the wrong programs can be severe. New programs often require “biting the bullet” on small courses until program enrollment increases.

Action Steps:
  • Test student interest in possible new programs through Teaching Institution courses before dedicating additional resources
  • Scaffold up new programs through Teaching Institution courses to avoid offering under-enrolled courses
  • Review Teaching Institution courses to quickly reveal opportunities

Graduate Admissions

Satisfying Prerequisites
Graduate programs typically have specific prerequisites required for admission. These can impede admission to the graduate program, which, in turn, can impede the success of the graduate program itself.

Action Steps:
  • Identify courses at Teaching Institutions that can satisfy the prerequisite
  • Require enrollment in these prerequisites as part of the program

​Retention Solutions

Retaining Students Who Earn Low Grades or Withdraw
On average, three good grades are required to offset a bad grade. Poor grades need to be offset or, preferably, replaced as soon as possible. Consortial relationships allow poor grades to be replaced on a student’s transcript when the student successfully completes a similar course offered by a Teaching Institution.

Action Steps:
  • Identify your institution’s highest D/F/W courses
  • Identify the most compatible Teaching Institutions offering those courses and assist the student to enroll
  • Monitor student academic performance over the semester through robust mid-term grade reports and their equivalents
  • Connect at-risk students with appropriate Teaching Institutions’ courses
  • Select Teaching Institution courses that begin mid- or late-semester, or in between semesters (for example, winter term)
  • Monitor the progress of students enrolled in courses through the CIC Consortium

Maintaining Academic Eligibility for Athletes
Athletes frequently take smaller loads to accommodate their practice schedules. Poor performance in a single course can lead some to drop a course, which can reduce hours below full-time status and impact athletic eligibility. A student’s athletic scholarship also may be affected.

Action Steps:
  • Engage coaches actively in monitoring student athletes’ academic performance
  • Monitor mid-term grade reports and other equivalents
  • Identify courses needed to support student athletes’ eligibility
  • Locate those courses within Teaching Institutions’ course inventory
  • Enroll at-risk students in appropriate online courses

Pre-Probation and Pre-Dismissal Strategies
Students who are placed on probation or dismissed for poor academic performance typically do not succeed at completing a pathway back to the institution. Institutional retention and revenue also are negatively affected.

Action Steps:
  • Proactively identify appropriate winter or summer term courses offered by Teaching Institutions that, if completed successfully, would allow students to move off probation or re-enter in the following term
  • Actively encourage probationary and dismissed students to enroll in these courses
  • Create follow-up methods with these students

Post-Dismissal Return Pathways
Students dismissed by the institution rarely return.

Action Steps:
  • Encourage dismissed students to enroll in selected courses offered by Teaching Institutions in the Consortium
  • Define a path back to the Home Institution based on course performance

Next Steps

The first step to joining the CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium is to contact CIC through the online request form or via email to CIC Senior Advisor Norval Kneten or CIC Vice President Carol Schuler. You will receive a confirmation from CIC. Then, you will be contacted by CIC’s partner for this new member service, College Consortium, the technology company that developed the online course sharing platform.

The College Consortium platform makes it possible for students to easily request, obtain approval, be billed, and be cross-enrolled for courses taken at another institution within the CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium. Your initial contact at College Consortium, Nathan Green, will work with you and your colleagues to review how the platform works, to present the process for becoming an active Consortium member, and to answer key questions—whether your institution is interested in joining the CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium as a Home Institution that makes select online courses available to its students or as a Teaching Institution that makes select online courses available to students at other member institutions.

Enrolling a student in the CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium requires the same coordination among various departments and administrative offices that is required to enroll a student in an on-campus course. Often, institutions rely on a collaborative approach between academic affairs, the registrar, and the finance, financial aid, and IT departments to select online courses and to implement processes to enroll students and record their progress in CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium courses.

Establishing this process at CIC institutions usefully advances in three phases:

  1. Exploration;
  2. Preparation and Participation; and
  3. Implementation

Phase I: Exploration

  1. Begin with a 30-minute preparatory consultation between the CAO and other members of the academic leadership team and College Consortium senior staff.

  2. Select members to form your institution’s CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium Operations Team.  Such a team typically includes representatives from academic affairs, the registrar’s office, and the finance, financial aid, and IT departments.

  3. Have your Operations Team members review the information on this website, including the FAQs, below, and the Next Steps section.

  4. Explore the list of institutions that currently participate in the CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium. These members can select from more than 650 online courses for use by their students. During your webinar demonstration with College Consortium, you can explore the list of available courses by discipline, Teaching Institution, and schedule.

  5. Schedule a 45-minute live webinar for your operations team with Nathan Green, vice president and co-founder of College Consortium. The operations webinar will provide each team member with an in-depth review of the platform and the process for implementing the CIC Consortium. Typically, most questions concern academics, IT, and financial aid in the specific institutional context.

For Academic Leaders, the Registrar, and Financial Aid Officers

How does the Home Institution control quality and the volume of courses selected and used by students?  Students may enroll in a Consortium course only if the Home Institution has pre-approved the course and approves the individual enrollment. Students only see online courses that have been pre-approved by their institution.

  • After formally joining the CIC Consortium, the Home Institution has access to the course description, syllabi, faculty credentials, and accreditation-related materials for each Consortium course, all of which the Home Institution can review prior to pre-approval.  This approach allows each Home Institution to select the courses most appropriate for its students.

  • After a student requests a pre-approved course, the registrar's office can easily and quickly approve the enrollment through the College Consortium Online Platform, replacing the time consuming approval processes currently in use at most institutions for off-campus courses.

  • Financial aid will apply to the course once the enrollment has been approved.

  • If specific information regarding accreditation is needed, please contact Rob Manzer, chief academic officer and co-founder of College Consortium.

For Chief Financial Officers

How do the finances work?  The Home Institution bills the student at a rate they set for a CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium course and the student pays the Home Institution.  The Home Institution pays the Teaching Institution that is offering the course the rate set by the Teaching Institution. In this way, both institutions can share in the revenue that a course generates.

  • Since Home Institutions have the freedom to set the rates charged to their students, they can deploy a strategic pricing strategy.  For example, some Home Institutions choose not to bill students during regular semesters by including Consortium courses in their block tuition in order to promote recruitment, retention, or completion plans.

  • A Home Institution will pay to College Consortium an annual Platform Access Fee of $1,000. To understand how quickly this expense will be recouped, the Home Institution should confer with College Consortium.

  • A Teaching Institution will pay to College Consortium an annual Platform Access Fee of $1,000 plus an additional $2,000 annual Platform Teaching Fee for College Consortium’s maintenance of coursework materials and interconnections on its platform. Recouping of this fee will be achieved quickly as well.

  • The Home Institution charges its normal tuition directly to the participating student. It then transfers through the College Consortium platform the portion of tuition that the Teaching Institution charges the Home Institution for the course. Because the new enrollment represents use of an empty “seat,” the Teaching Institution can charge less than the full tuition charge and the Home Institution can retain the difference. The Teaching Institution receives 75 percent of the tuition it charges and College Consortium receives 25 percent. CIC receives modest revenue from College Consortium that helps fund member programs and services.

  • All payments are automatically transferred through the College Consortium technology platform and do not require additional institutional billing.

For Instructional Technology Staff

How does the technology work and will it require a significant amount of IT staff support?  The College Consortium Platform allows students to easily request, obtain approval, be billed, and be cross-enrolled for courses taken at another institution in the Consortium. Data is moved securely via CSV files imported and exported by institutions. There is no direct integration, security risk, or significant work from the IT department to support this program.

There is no reason to anticipate needing to hire additional IT staff in any institutional office to implement the CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium; to date the Home and Teaching Institutions that are the highest users of this service have not found it necessary to hire additional IT staff.

  1. The final step in the Exploration Phase is to review and sign College Consortium’s contractual documents that, once executed, officially make your institution a participant in the CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium.
  • The consortial agreement provides membership in the CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium. Signing institutions affirm such matters as regional accreditation and intention to maintain accreditation as well as its membership in CIC.

  • The member services agreement lists the policies and procedures guiding the use of the Platform. These include such items as the services provided by College Consortium, the Teaching Institution’s agreement that the Platform will not be used to recruit Home Institution students, specifications for timely communications between Home and Teaching Institutions, fee schedules, and forms for requesting and approving enrollments.


In this phase, each department and office ensures that it has incorporated the necessary procedures to seamlessly enroll and record the progress of students taking courses in the CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium.  

  1. Jim Chitwood, vice president of College Consortium, will guide your institution through this phase.  Activities during this phase include:
    • Complete staff training and set-up of user accounts on the College Consortium Online Platform
    • Establish the payment processor connection and execute the course hosting fee
    • Coordinate, if applicable, the Teaching Institution readiness review, an hour-long review to ensure that institutions are ready to share courses on the platform.
  2. Your institution is now ready to begin pre-approving courses and enrolling students who will benefit from participation in the CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium.


Once your institution has some experience using the CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium, you may want to explore how other institutions have used it to improve student retention and completion. The College Consortium team can help Home Institutions to implement Consortium-based strategies to improve retention and completion.

Successful members in the CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium suggest that there are some best practices that institutions should consider.

  • Identify courses with high rates of D’s, F’s, and withdrawals and seek online courses that could help students replace these poor grades
  • Identify students at risk of probation and dismissal by carefully monitoring GPA’s and the 30-60-90 semester hour benchmarks toward graduation
  • Proactively provide students course options to remain in or reacquire good standing
  • Give students who are in good standing but falling behind options to catch up
  • Give students in good standing and on-track options to accelerate to completion
  • Pre-approve courses for students to include in an institution’s schedule or create a Student view
  • Develop a communications plan to promote the course options for students

Rob Manzer can assist you with strategies specific to your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why would my institution want its students to take online courses offered by another institution?
When a student is out-of-sequence in pursuit of his or her degree and the Home Institution is not offering the required course in the upcoming semester, the CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium provides an option that will keep the student on track toward timely graduation. Consortium courses:

  • Avoid the expense of the Home Institution offering an independent study;
  • May be offered by other institutions on schedules that may be more convenient for the student;
  • Always require advance approval by the Home Institution of the student’s enrollment;
  • Share revenue between the Home and Teaching Institutions;
  • Are offered by other CIC institutions that share basic values such as commitment to undergraduate education that is mainly experienced live in an interactive classroom;
  • Include accreditors’ required information on syllabi and faculty credentials that are used to evaluate quality and effectiveness; and
  • Avoid the complicated procedures that usually are necessary to approve credit for transfer courses.

Why is a “Consortium” important?
Consortium membership offers many benefits:

  • Students can apply their financial aid to the online consortium course;
  • Students can sometimes use the online course to substitute for another in which they performed poorly;
  • Students can count the online course as part of a full-time load; and
  • A student’s course and grade automatically are recorded on the student’s Home Institution transcript.

What experience does College Consortium bring to the CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium?
College Consortium’s methodology and technology have already been used successfully by several state consortia of colleges including North Carolina (NCICU) and Texas (ICUT), as well as by a few affinity-based consortia. To date, College Consortium has contributed to more than 1,000 course-sharing enrollments.

What outcomes has College Consortium measured?
In College Consortium’s first year of operation, outcomes included:

  • Improved graduation rates of 3–5 percent at pilot Texas institutions;
  • Improved first-year retention of 3 percent at a pilot Illinois institution;
  • More than 100 athletes were able to play their spring sport by enrolling in a winter term course that was available at their Home Institution only in the spring;
  • More than 300 students recovered lost ground academically last summer without enrolling for a course over which their Home Institution had no approval;
  • Over 75 students enrolled in a back-up course to replace a D/F/W;
  • Ten students on probation returned to their institutions; and
  • More than $2 million in revenue for Consortium member institutions was generated.

How can I learn more about the courses that are available?
You can view the up to date list of participating Home and Teaching Institutions and the courses that Teaching Institutions currently offer via the Consortium landing page.

To discuss your institution’s needs or for additional information, please request additional information about the Consortium. A member of the College Consortium staff will contact you to discuss your institution’s needs in more detail. If you have questions for CIC staff, please contact CIC Senior Advisor Norval Kneten at or CIC Vice President Carol Schuler at