Proposal Guidelines

Thank you for your interest in developing a course or module.

As a first step, we suggest that all interested faculty confer with their school and/or department leadership.  Please note that only Harvard faculty are eligible to submit a course or module proposal.  Please also be aware that the date of the next submission cycle has not yet been set.

Note: We are in the process of rolling out a revised proposal process in the coming weeks. In the meantime, the information below may still help with the initial framing of your ideas.


Module vs. Course
HarvardX Module is the combination of video elements, assessments and other interactive tools that address a specific topic and its associated learning outcomes. This could be the equivalent of a week to three weeks of a semester-long course.

HarvardX Course is the combination of video elements, assessments and other interactive tools that is the equivalent of a full course experience as defined by your school or department. For some this could be a semester-long course, while for others it could be an intensive 3-week course. Note that the development of a course can begin with the development and release of a module.

MOOC stands for ‘massive open online course.’  This means that all of the course (or module) assets (including assessments and discussion forums) are open to anyone.  SPOC stands for ‘small private online course’ and describes courses (or modules) with limited enrollment and course assets that are not necessarily open to all. 

Basic Information

1.     Who is the faculty lead?

2.     Who are the faculty co-instructors

3.     What is the affiliated Harvard school, department, and/or program (institute, initiative, etc.)?

4.     What is the tentative title for the course or module?

5.     What is the anticipated development period and desired launch date?

    • Over what period will you have time to commit to module/course development, and when do you hope the module/course might be released online? (Note: From the time of a completed proposal, typical development time for a course or module ranges from 3 months to 9 months.)

6.     Is there a relationship to an existingHarvard course, curriculum, or program?

    • Is the online offering being build from scratch, based upon an existing campus-based offering, or is it being developed in tandem with a campus-based experience? How will the materials or instructional approaches be reapplied to benefit Harvard students on campus either during or after the completion of the course?

 7.     What are the primary learning objectives (if for a module) and tentative syllabus (if for a course)

    • What major concepts, cluster of concepts or skills should a student have learned by the end of the module/course? 

8.     How do you plan to evaluate student progress?

    • What are the most important modes to determine how students are progressing in their learning and mastery of the subject matter?  (Examples include: multiple choice questions; long form exposition; quantitative problem solving; etc.) How do you think these methods might be effectively deployed for a large online audience. 

9.     Who is/are the primary audiences (online, on campus, and beyond)?

    • Internally, is the material usually directed towards undergraduates, graduate students, professionals, etc.?  Externally, is there a particular audience, defined by educational/professional goals, geography, etc. that might be particularly interested in this course/module?

Development Base

1.     Are there existing materials that might be adapted for use in the module/course?

    • What existing lecture materials; textbooks; assignments; video; interactive exercises; etc. might serve as a foundation for the module/course? In thinking about this, also consider whether you have ownership/access to use these materials in various digital formats.

2.     What is the “scope” of your module/course?

    • Can you give an approximate breakdown of the scope of the materials required to meet your learning objective (for a module) or cover your syllabus (for a course)? How many hours of lecture or video-delivered content? How many questions or exercises across the combined assessments? What is the format of these assessments?

3.     Can you identify individuals / organizations that have previously supported the development of materials and may provide support for your future module/course?

    • Do you already receive course development support from TAs; preceptors; your school’s teaching and learning center; etc.?  Are these individuals currently working with you in any capacity? 

Research and Inquiry

The HarvardX mission also includes a commitment to research (either directly or through a willingness to collaborate with other researchers). Research and inquiry are broadly conceived but must contribute to generalizable knowledge, disseminated beyond this university by you or by the leaders of the projects that your course may support. In developing your proposal please, answer the following questions:

1.     At the end of the course or module, what questions would you like to have answered?

    • The research committee welcomes a broad range of research proposals.  Some possible examples are: What is the impact of a small-scale, in-person meeting between a HarvardX instructional team and HarvardX students?  How can videotaped assessments change the conception of a learning product, and how do these outcomes compare to more traditional assessments?  How do surveys cause attrition among students, and are these students who would otherwise participate meaningfully in the course or module?

2.     Do you have a group of researchers (or an institute) in mind that you would like to partner with? 

3.     Do you have a sense of what data or analytics you might need?

4.     How do you intend to share your findings/results (e.g., working paper, publication, presentation)?