How Do Credits for an Online Course Work?

Many new students and working professionals opt to earn college credits online to either complete a degree or transfer to a traditional program. Read on to learn more about how online courses and their corresponding credits work.

What Are Online Classes?

Flexibility and cost advantages - plus the growing list of schools and programs available online - are all combining to make distance learning a viable option for developing new skills or earning credentials. Online courses are conducted over the Internet and are ideally 'taught' to a group of 20-30 students at a time, according to a report done by the director of distance education at South Texas College. Students are usually assigned a password to whichever online instruction system his or her school uses, and most online courses include some sort of technical orientation. Through email, videotaped lectures, downloadable lecture notes, online feedback, discussions via conferencing and other technologies, students can turn their home into a virtual classroom to earn credits online.

Important Facts About Online Classes

Common Courses English, mathematics, fine arts, social science, behavioral science
Degree Levels Associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees available
Concentrations Communication, anthropology, sociology, business administration, data analytics, nursing, operations management, psychology, public health
Possible Careers Multimedia artist, interior designer, budget analyst, sales engineer, computer programmer, computer systems analyst, set and exhibit designer

How Do Online Course Credits Work?

A major concern for students in online classes is often whether or not credits will transfer. Edu-center.org notes that credits will most likely transfer between schools, as long as they are awarded by an accredited institution; however, Edu-center also advises students to inquire at the recipient institution to be certain. Online credits nearly always appear the same as traditional classes on transcripts and diplomas as well. At the University of Washington (UW), for example, will not include transfer grades into the UW GPA.

Structure of Online Courses

Online courses are often structured much like courses on campus. Students read lectures, participate in discussions and take tests. Online students are also able to use school libraries. Because online students log into the online classroom according to their own schedule, discussions are often not live, but instead take place on discussion boards; some classes do participate in scheduled, live chats. Just as in a traditional classroom, students send papers to professors and receive grades and feedback.

Teachers of Online Courses

While many online classes are taught by professors, one of the benefits of these types of courses is that they are often taught by practicing professionals in the field who teach part-time in addition to working. This gives students access to instructors who are current and have ongoing experience in the real workplace.

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