Yale Center for Teaching and Learning

For Yale Faculty: Policies Concerning Online Courses

The policy matters listed below have been decided by the Office of the Provost. As more policy matters concerning online courses are finalized, they will be published on this page.

1. Ownership of the intellectual property in an online course

The faculty member retains ownership of the “Course Material,” meaning the underlying teaching and scholarly material authored or assembled for the course (e.g., lecture notes, syllabi, assessments, outlines, reading lists, notes and/or illustrative material.). 

The faculty member is free to teach, adapt and use the Course Material, provided that he or she adheres to applicable University policies, including Yale’s conflict of interest and conflict of commitment policies. 

Yale owns the “Digital Course,” meaning the media, video, audio, software and all other digital materials created by the University to teach the course. This is consistent with the arrangements of earlier Yale online courses (e.g., Open Yale Courses and the first MOOCs) and conforms to Yale’s policy, which has long provided that if the University contributes “substantial resources” to a project, then it is the Provost’s determination that the University has the ownership of the project. The rights Yale owns include the worldwide, exclusive and perpetual right to use the Digital Course in whole or in part, in any and all media now known or later invented in any language, to create derivative works based on the Digital Course and to register copyright in the Digital Course and any derivatives of the Digital Course. 

However, if faculty members leave Yale to teach elsewhere, they can request approval from the Provost to use the Yale Digital Course for their residential teaching at the new institution. Please see the Provost’s review of copyright ownership. 

2. Pay for creating a massive open online course (Updated as of July 1, 2016)

Over the past two years, we have learned that two faculty members can each develop effective open online courses that are very different in duration. Just as disciplines differ, the amount of content a faculty member chooses to provide learners may vary widely in total lecture hours, assessment type or number of real-time interactions. As a result, the amount of effort required to create a MOOC is not consistent. It is for this reason that we now offer two levels of base compensation to our faculty creating MOOCs.

  Proposed MOOC Categories
Category #1 Category #2
Suggested Weeks For Learners To Complete 4-6 weeks 7+ weeks
Production Costs (Approximate) $25,000 $40,000 - $60,000
Faculty Compensation $6,000 $12,000

In cases where faculty are creating several short courses or a specialization consisting of several short courses, the Provost’s Office, appropriate Dean (if applicable), and faculty member will discuss the faculty member’s compensation as we can not assume that creating three courses is three times the effort of creating one course. 

3. Sharing revenue generated by Yale courses on Coursera

Every Yale faculty member who has offered a course on the Coursera platform to date has agreed to include an option for students to pay $49 for a verified certificate. In every case, learners all over the world can still access the course content for free – the majority of learners choose this option. A small number of learners, though, choose to enroll in the verified certificate track.

Once the University recoups roughly 50% of the costs it incurred in creating and producing the course, revenue will be shared with the faculty member as follows.

Revenue received[1] Faculty receive (%)
Up to $100,000 50%
$100,001 - $250,000 40%
More than $250,001 30%

The remaining portion of the revenue will be provided to the Center for Teaching and Learning to invest in new projects, ideas, and initiatives.


[1] Refers to the amount Coursera distributes to the University for that specific course beyond the initial amount each course must receive to defray roughly half of the total production costs.