How Does Taking College Courses Over the Internet Work?

Taking college courses online via the Internet is an increasingly popular way to learn something new, get a degree, save some tuition and avoid commuting and inconvenient schedules. How it works depends on the specific college program. There are several different ways to take courses online.

Taking College Courses Over the Internet

There are different departments at multiple colleges offering college courses partly or completely online. Some varieties of Web courses are described below.

Important Facts About Online Programs

Common Courses Social sciences, behavioral sciences, English, mathematics, fine arts
Degree Levels Associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees available
Prerequisites Varies, depending upon the intended program of enrollment; associate's and bachelor's programs typically require a high school diploma, or equivalent
Concentrations Sociology, psychology, history, information technologies, anthropology, business administration, criminal justice, data analytics

Online Course Management

Many universities use Blackboard, ANGEL or another form of course management that adds an Internet component to a traditional college course. After class, students sign into the course website to complete their teacher's instructions. This may involve an online discussion board, reading materials posted to the website, online quizzes, grade trackers or more.

Hybrid Internet Courses

A course may be presented in a 'hybrid' format combining online and in-person learning. Much of the work is done independently over the Internet, but students gather on the college campus for a class or seminar on a periodic basis.

Scheduled Internet Classes

A fully online course may have a regular class schedule. At the prescribed day and time, students get on the Internet and sign on to the course's Web page. The instructor teaches 'live' and takes questions, perhaps by streaming video. With Webcams and microphones, students can see each other and join in discussions.

Self-Paced Classes Online

A course may be designed to allow students to proceed at their own pace and on their own schedules. Internet resources, like video- or audio-recorded lectures, are available all the time. Students communicate with instructors via Internet chat or e-mail. College courses usually require that all work be completed within the semester.

Internet OpenCourseWare

Many top universities are putting course content on the Internet to be freely accessed. Lectures or lecture notes, reading lists, articles, videos, assignments, tests and even answer sheets might be included. OpenCourseWare is an example of this type of Internet-based college course. These classes are free for self-study, but the instructors are not available to answer questions or grade assignments, and no college credit is awarded.

What You Need For Taking Internet College Courses

Each school has its own guidelines for computer equipment and software required for taking its courses. In general, you'll need a reasonably powerful computer, a recent version of an acceptable Internet browser and e-mail and word processing software. PCs (with Microsoft Windows) are always supported; Macs usually are. Some college courses require a microphone for class discussions. Courses may require special software programs, because you don't have a campus computer lab.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Georgetown University

    Georgetown University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Georgetown University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • American University

    American University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at American University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Concordia University Portland

    Concordia University Portland responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Concordia University Portland:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Seton Hall University

    Seton Hall University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Seton Hall University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • The George Washington University

    The George Washington University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at The George Washington University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Independence University

    Independence University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Independence University:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Ashford University

    Ashford University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Ashford University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Tulane University

    Tulane University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Tulane University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • New England College

    New England College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at New England College:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Strayer University

    Strayer University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Strayer University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

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