An Evaluation of CSU’s Cross-Campus Online Education Program

The Legislative Analyst’s Office has just published the following report:

An Evaluation of CSU’s Cross-Campus Online Education Program

California State University (CSU) offers online instruction at virtually all of its 23 campuses. Chapter 363 of 2013 (AB 386, Levine) requires CSU to increase students’ access to online coursework and transparency of its online programs by (1) adopting a systemwide definition of online education, (2) developing an “easily accessible” database of fully online courses offered by campuses, (3) implementing a streamlined process for students to enroll in and get credit for online courses offered at other CSU campuses (known as “cross-campus online enrollment”), (4) reporting biennially on certain enrollment and performance data related to online education, and (5) reporting on the feasibility of developing an online bachelor’s degree completion program for students who started college but never obtained a degree.

Our review finds that CSU has implemented some of Chapter 363’s requirements but has much more work to do to comply fully—particularly by developing a more student-friendly database of online course listings. Due in large part to CSU’s problematic database and certain factors identified by the Chancellor’s Office, to date very few students have enrolled in online courses at other CSU campuses—an average of just two full-time equivalent students per campus in fall 2015. In addition, the Legislature currently lacks some key information on CSU’s online programs and plans.


Given our findings, we recommend the Legislature enact follow-up legislation requiring CSU to report on several issues, including (1) planned actions to boost cross-campus online enrollment, including a requirement for CSU to revamp its database by a specified date; (2) additional data on enrollment and outcomes pertaining to online students; and (3) more information on its current programs and future plans to serve former students who started college but never earned a bachelor’s degree.

This report is available using the following link: