You have an idea for a non-academic course or workshop you’d like to teach and you want to approach a local continuing studies department, community center or a conference planner. But, you are unsure of how to write a workshop or course proposal. Some educational program managers and conference planners will require you to complete a template or online form to submit a course or workshop proposal. So it is best to first check to see if they have a process (including deadlines etc.) for accepting proposals.
If they do not have a template, a basic workshop or course proposal will have some of the same elements:
- Title of the course or workshop
- Course or workshop description
- Proposed time(s) and date(s)
- Course outline
- Your name and contact information
- Your instructor bio
- Supplies required
- AV requirements
- Room set up requirements
- Student minimums and maximums
- Expected course fee
- Expected salary or payment arrangement
- Student Profile
- Marketing ideas
- Your resume
Title of the Course or Workshop
A descriptive title is best. Remember that in some course catalogs the course name may be part of a list for a potential student to choose from so it needs to reflect the course or workshop content. Cute or creative names may not market the course as well as you’d like. Limit your title to between 60-100 characters.
Course or Workshop Description
As the course description sets student expectations it is really important to accurately depict what you plan to teach. As the description is a marketing tool, it needs to be compelling. What can a student expect to learn? How will they benefit from taking the course or workshop? What makes this course or workshop unique over other similar courses or workshops? Limit your description to about 150 words.
Proposed Time(s) and Date(s)
Of course, these times and dates would work with your schedule but you may want to offer a few alternatives if your first pick doesn’t work with the schedule.
A course outline breaks down what will be covered in each session. A course outline is required for a course proposal (something you will teach over multiple sessions) but not a workshop proposal. A course outline can also include a description of assignments and evaluation if the course will have exams, quizzes or other forms of student evaluation. For a more detailed article on the contents of a typical course outline, see Writing a Good Course Outline.
Your Name and Contact Information
As the proposal may be sent in by mail, email or dropped off, it is important to include how to contact you after the educational program manager has had a chance to review your proposal.
Your Instructor Bio
Your bio is a short (approximately 150 words) description of your relevant experience – especially any teaching experience or industry experience related to the course content. The bio is used to sell the potential student on your expertise and ability to teach the course.
Include a list of the supplies you will need e.g. white board and markers, flip chart(s) and markers, name tags, name cards, binders/folders, handouts copied, books ordered, etc. If your course teaches something that requires specific art supplies or materials, list them in this section. Include a note if you expect students to supply anything as that is often included in a course description in a course catalog.
If you require a computer, projector, screen, speakers, microphone(s) or other audio visual equipment, list it in this section of the course or workshop proposal.
Room Set-up Requirements
If you require the training room set up to allow for specific activities, provide details in this section. If students will require a surface to write on, then request tables. If you expect students to move around and interact (best practice) then allow for enough space for this kind of movement.
Student Minimums and Maximums and Expected Course Fee
This may need to be set by the educational program manager but you can let them know what you would like the maximum number of participants to be. Also, when you estimate the course or workshop fee, it should factor in at least 50% as overhead for the educational facility. If you need to know the number of students in advance so that you can prepare handouts and/or order supplies, indicate how much time you need prior to the course so that the training manager or knows when they should cut off registration.
Expected Salary or Payment Arrangement
There are many ways to structure and negotiate payment. You could request a flat fee (regardless of the number of students), a percentage of each student fee (40-50% is usually acceptable) or an hourly rate (again, regardless of the number of students). The obvious disadvantage to a flat fee or hourly rate is that you could have 8 or 20 students and your earnings would be the same. Whichever payment arrangement you would like to propose, make sure that the math makes sense.
For example, if you suggest that the course fee is $200 and the student minimum is 8 and maximum is 12 students (so total revenue is between $1600-2400) but expect to get a flat fee of $2000 for the course, even at the maximum class size, there would not be enough money to cover overhead. If the total revenue generated is $1600, expect to get no more than $800 for your time and effort. To calculate what your fee could be:
- Minimum # students x Proposed Course fee = Total Course Revenue
- 40-50% of the Total Course Revenue = the money available to pay your hourly rate, flat fee or per student fee.
For a more detailed discussion of the options for calculating trainer fees, refer to the article: How to Calculate Instructor Fees for Freelance Trainers
Describe the ideal student for this course or workshop. What is their educational or experience level? What other demographics do you expect this will attract? Seniors? Children? Adults of a certain age? Locations? and so on…
As the workshop or course will need to be promoted to potential students, offer your ideas for ways to promote the workshop or course. Are you aware of an industry magazine, blog, website or newsletter that could include a blurb about your upcoming course offering? List these possible marketing avenues in this section. Also include the promotion you’ll be doing such as promoting it through Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc.).
If your bio is a good description of your background, including a resume is optional. If your resume lends more credibility to your industry experience though, it is a good idea to include it with the proposal.
Sharing your expertise with a group of eager students can be highly rewarding. And often, educational program managers and conference planners are looking for new and interesting courses and workshops to add to their roster. It can be a win-win opportunity to submit a workshop or course proposal and offer your expertise to new students.
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