Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Educational Technology


Educational Technology

Major Advisor

Patrick R. Lowenthal, Ph.D.


Kerry Lynn Rice, Ed.D.


Norm Friesen, Ph.D.


Enrollments in postsecondary online programs have grown over the years. As enrollments have grown, postsecondary institutions have experimented with different ways to administer their online programs. In many cases, institutions have shifted to a more centralized business model that consolidates the governance of their online programs under a single high-level institutional officer (Legon & Garrett, 2017). However, even as more colleges and universities prioritize the administration of online programming and dedicate staffing and resources to administer those programs, there is very little research focused on the best way to administer online programs in four-year public statewide systems.

Given this gap in the literature, this study used an exploratory case study design to investigate how online programs are administered at four institutions in the University System of New Hampshire (USNH). Eighteen administrators from the University of New Hampshire, Keene State College, Granite State College, Plymouth State University and the USNH system office participated in a 20-question online survey. Survey questions were shaped by Rovai (2003) and Rovai and Downey’s (2010) factors of online program management. After survey data were analyzed using a constant comparison method, six survey respondents were invited to participate in a follow-up interview. As data from interviews were analyzed, several insights emerged about administering online programs in a statewide system. First, study participants had a difficult time finding a common vocabulary when talking about online programs and the potential benefits of system-level collaboration; second, administrators always prioritized their local program tasks before any consideration about collaboration could occur; and third, although there was not a strategic plan in place to help system institutions collaborate, all interview participants felt that such a plan would be valuable and several interview participants offered actionable suggestions for how to develop such a plan.