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Quality Matters

Developing and recognizing quality online courses. 

What is Quality Matters?

Founded as part of a Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) grant in 2003, Quality Matters (QM) is a nationally recognized peer review process for certifying quality in online courses. QM has spent more than a decade developing and refining a process for course peer review using a custom, 42-standard rubric based on current research, best practices, national standards and course design models.

“Quality Matters (QM) is a faculty-centered, peer review process that is designed to certify the quality of online courses and online components. … QM has received national recognition for its peer-based approach to quality assurance and continuous improvement in online education.”

The Quality Matters Peer Review process is:

  • faculty-driven
  • collaborative
  • designed to provide specific, detailed and constructive feedback on course design
  • collegial, not evaluative or judgmental
  • centered on the learner’s experience

For more on Quality Matters implementation at the University of Alaska see the AQI website.


Research Foundations

The Quality Matters Rubric and related materials are supported by rigorous and current research. You can browse and search in their research library for this supporting material or check out the research that’s been done on the impact of QM in online learning.

Certified Classes at UAF

Since starting formal review activities at UAF the following courses have been certified:

Quality Matters Exemplary Online ProgramNoteworthy

  • 2019 Teaching Support – Master’s of Education in Online Innovation and Design
  • July 2019 UAF earns QM Exemplary Program status for Special Education and Teaching by receiving QM certifications in four program areas within three years.
    • 2019 Teaching Support – Special Education and Teaching
    • 2019 Learner Success – Special Education and Teaching
    • 2018 Learner Support – All Online Programs
    • 2018 Program Design – Special Education and Teaching


Next Steps? Promoting…

  1. Confirm whether your course is listed with a QM badge on the  UAF eCampus courses page  for each semester.
  2. Add your QM badge and language about the process inside of your course shell.
  3. Consider working with your department to promote out a list of courses or individual courses with QM certification.

How to Get Started

Quality Matters materials and professional development are available to UAF faculty and staff through our institutional membership. If you are interested in participating in performing a self-guided review, or taking part in an informal or formal review, start by:

Is it Time to Recertify?

A course needs recertification before the three or five-year time limit when more than 20% of any of the following have changed: course level objectives, module level objectives, assessments in the course, instructional materials, learning activities including assignments, tools used in the course. See the full flowchart how a combination of items could lead to a need for recertification.  Besides this flowchart “there may be other times when re-certification is needed. If any of the conditions below lead to more than 20% changes to the course, the recertification requirement applies:

  • The institution has changed its learning management system where the course is hosted.
  • The textbook has been changed AND the course design was constructed around the textbook.
  • Any of the Alignment Standards are changed due to a textbook update or a new textbook.
  • Redesign of a course due to increasing or decreasing credit hours.
  • If the course has recently gone through a review process by a curriculum committee as a result of a regular course review cycle.”

Quality Matters. (n.d.). Recertification for QM-Certified Courses: Quality Matters.

Considerations for Online Courses

Quality Matters is specifically for online and hybrid courses. If you are interested in a similar process that might apply to your face-to-face (or other) course, get in touch and we’ll help you find relevant resources.

We’ve also developed some guidelines to help you use this site as a tool for implementing QM values in your course. Check out the guidelines here.

How to Begin
  1. Set up your QM account
  2. Choose the type of course review you’d like
  3. Request the review – You’ll receive an email when it is approved
  4. Submit your Course Worksheet

Sign up for available training or meet with a UAF Quality Matters Coordinator (QMC) to learn more.

  1. Sign up for an account at
  2. Go to the “Register for Professional Development” page and filter by “Higher Education” to see all the upcoming sessions available. { Link requires log in. }
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) - YouTube QM Videos

See the full list of videos on YouTube from QM.

How do I get started? 

Is there training? See the schedule of upcoming training

Where are resources for my course? See the bottom this page for a series of items including accessibility information, privacy documents, academic support information, technology and tutorials.

Program Reviews

UAA, UAF, and UAS are paid affiliates of Quality Matters. They provide training and a certification process for fully online and blended courses as well as Programs.

Quality Matters believes “everyone has a goal. Learners need to improve and grow. You nurture them with well-conceived, well-designed, well-presented courses and programs. Our goal — as a non-profit, quality assurance organization — is to provide a system to help you deliver on that promise: with review, improvement and certification of quality.”

Quality Matters (QM) Program Reviews include four types:

  • Program Design
  • Teaching Support
  • Learner Support
  • Learner Success
Course Review Levels

Level 1: Consult with an Instructional Designer

UAF eCampus Instructional Designers are trained in applying the Quality Matters Rubric. The rubric is designed to assess mature online and hybrid courses, we help you consider improvements for any course based on Quality Matters or another well-established design models.

Level 2: Self-Guided Review

UAF is a QM subscribing institution; UAF faculty have access to QM Resources including the Research Library and a comprehensive Self-Review Tool for evaluating your own course. Fill out this form to get started. UAA and UAS are QM subscribing institutions; all UA faculty have access to these resources.

Level 3: Informal Review

Receive basic feedback on the design of your online course before a Formal Review. We work with you on getting started, identifying needs, and making improvements in your course. While this doesn’t necessitate a formal review, the informal process will prepare you well if you’d like to work with external reviewers through the formal QM process.

Level 4: Formal Review

Online and hybrid courses are eligible for a formal review. It is a three-week process where a Master Reviewer, a Subject Matter Expert and an External Reviewer from another institution examine your course using the QM Rubric, decides if it meets expectations for each standard, and—whether it meets expectations or not—gives helpful recommendations providing ideas for improvement and enrichment of that standard. If two or more reviewers agree a standard has been met, no revision is required. If not, you may revise your course using the recommendations.

The QM Review is based on continual improvement. It is a diagnostic, not an evaluation. If you wish to you may revise their course as needed to meet the QM standards. A successful revision results in the course being listed in the national QM Database of quality courses and the right to display the QM logo. Most importantly, a successful course review means a course that is better for learners!

Our Quality Matters Relationship

UAF eCampus brought the proven work of the Quality Matters (QM) organization to UAF in 2016 to support continuous improvement of fully-online and hybrid courses.

Our relationship with QM means that we partner with and support UAF instructors who are interested in putting their course(s) through a QM review. These reviews examine the course content—the learning objectives, curriculum, planned learning activities— not delivery, using the QM Rubric as an authority rather than individual preferences.

All reviewers, including UAF instructional designers, are trained in applying the Rubric, writing helpful recommendations and considering the course from the learner’s point of view. The review process is an opportunity to work with professionals in your discipline and in online learning to think critically about how learners move through and work toward success in your course.

Quality Matters: Further Resources

UAF Instructional Designers

This page has been authored collectively by the experts on the UAF Instructional Design Team. Let us know if you have suggestions or corrections!

Instructional Design Team, UAF eCampus