The University of California (UC) Board of Regents has voted to lift a ban on students earning degrees exclusively through online courses. This decision, made on February 14, 2024, overturns a previous mandate by the Academic Senate that required a campus experience for all degree programs.

Key Takeaways

  • The UC Board of Regents voted 10 to 1 to lift the ban on online degrees.
  • The decision has sparked a debate about governance between the Board of Regents and the Academic Senate.
  • A task force has been formed to evaluate the efficacy of online degree programs.


In 2023, the Academic Senate of the University of California implemented a rule requiring students to have a campus experience to earn their degrees. This effectively banned fully online degree programs, necessitating exceptions for any student wishing to pursue an online degree. The recent vote by the UC Board of Regents reverses this decision, allowing students to complete their degrees entirely online.

Governance Issues

The decision has raised questions about the balance of power between the UC Board of Regents and the Academic Senate. James Steintrager, chair of the Academic Senate, expressed concerns about the decision-making process, noting that the regents acted without meaningful engagement or questioning during the presentation.

Rich Loeb, chair of the UC Board of Regents, acknowledged the delicate balance of governance. He emphasized the need to uphold the rights and responsibilities of the board while respecting the boundaries of shared governance.

Task Force Formation

In response to the ongoing debate, a 20-member presidential task force has been established to evaluate the efficacy of online degree programs. The task force aims to provide recommendations on high-quality in-person, hybrid, and online offerings for students. The committee is expected to present its findings to the Academic Senate by the end of the summer.

Future Implications

The task force’s review is crucial as much of the existing research on online course efficacy comes from for-profit institutions, which differ significantly from the University of California. UC Provost Katherine Newman highlighted the importance of this review to ensure that the data is relevant and comparable to the UC system.

Steven Cheung, co-chair of the task force, emphasized that the goal is to maintain the high standards of the University of California. He stated that the faculty and administration are committed to ensuring that any online degree program meets the quality standards of the UC system.


The lifting of the ban on online degree programs by the UC Board of Regents marks a significant shift in the university’s approach to education. While the decision has sparked debate about governance and the quality of online education, the formation of a task force to evaluate these programs indicates a commitment to maintaining high standards. The findings of the task force will be crucial in shaping the future of online education at the University of California.



  • William C Miles

    I earned my MA in US History from the University of California, Santa Barbara. I also hold a BA in East Asian Studies. My educational journey equipped me with deep knowledge in diverse cultural and historical contexts, particularly those shaping higher education trends. Presently, I work as a freelance writer and consultant specializing in online colleges across the USA. Over the past eight years, I have collaborated with various educational platforms and e-learning organizations. This role involves creating insightful content that helps potential students make informed decisions about their education paths. Throughout my career, I've had the privilege to contribute articles to notable educational websites and online journals. My work is frequently cited for its clarity and helpfulness, aiding students and educators alike. I've taken part in over 50 webinars as a speaker, sharing my expertise on online education dynamics in the United States. My passion goes beyond writing; it's about making a tangible impact through my words and advice. With over 1,000 articles published under my name related to online education, my aim is clear: to provide readers with reliable information that supports their educational pursuits and career objectives. You can find more details about my professional background and contact me on LinkedIn or through my personal website.

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