You have a goal to get a college degree. Online options may help you fit a course into your busy schedule or complete an entire program without leaving home.

Why consider an online program?

Online programs provide flexibility in scheduling courses and allow students to access education from the convenience of home, regardless of location, close to a college campus or not. Online courses are also an excellent way to fit courses into your on-campus experience and class schedule. These opportunities are particularly attractive for working adults who are trying to complete a degree program. In many courses, you can do course work during the times available to you, regardless of your work schedule. For other courses, class meetings and interactions are held through the online interface at times convenient for everyone, usually evenings and weekends.

Online learning is not for everyone. In the online environment, students are responsible for the same coursework as a traditional class without the structure of a scheduled class time and face-to-face proximity to the instructor. You will be responsible for reviewing materials, completing assignments and communicating with the instructor and your classmates at specified times during the course.

Are you ready to be an online learner?

Successful online learners are self-motivated, disciplined and eager to reach goals. Basic computer skills, internet access, keyboarding, word processing and email familiarity are a must. You must be ready to commit to monitoring announcements, reading information carefully and following through by participating, studying, meeting deadlines and resolving any technical issues that interfere with your studies.

Here are a few brief resources to help you determine if online learning is right for you:

TN eCampus, a Tennessee Board of Regents online education resource, lists characteristics and suggestions for the successful online learner: http://www.tnecampus.org/successful-online-learner

UT Chattanooga has a brief survey you can take to test your readiness for online courses, along with suggestions based on your answers: https://www.utc.edu/learn/online/is-online-learning-for-me.php

How does it work?

Apply to an institution and to a program just as you would if you were attending classes on campus. Once admitted, you will receive a user ID and password that works for most of your college related online needs, including log-in access to your online classes.

Some specialized degree programs or institutions require an on-campus orientation or a period of on-site work (e.g., a one-week residential period annually, a series of Saturday seminars at a regional center, or a clinical/teaching component to gain hands-on experience).

Course materials, information and communication with the instructor are managed through a learning management system (LMS). These are typically platforms hosted by campus technology partners such as D2L Brightspace, Blackboard Learn, or Canvas. Once you sign in, you’ll see a space for each of your courses, with tabs for announcements, lessons, assignments and discussion boards. All you need to successfully complete the course should be found here. Assignments are uploaded here or are sent to the instructor as email attachments.

Online classes can be self-paced, or carefully unfold throughout the semester, with firm deadlines for progress.

Online classes can be synchronous (where all the students in the class are engaged in online work, video connections or discussions at the same time), but most course activities are usually asynchronous (meaning that each student can work at varying times of convenience as long as key deadlines are met).

Grading of assignments is done by the instructor or instructor’s team; grades and feedback are returned through the LMS, with your grade recorded in the institution’s records system as well.

What if I don’t live in Tennessee?

Online programs are open to individuals outside the state who apply and are qualified for admission. A few caveats exist, however. Program integrity and state authorization rules govern delivery of fully online programs to students in other states. First, you will need to double check that the institution has permission to enroll students in your state. Information about state authorization is usually prominently posted within institutional online program information. Second, you will need to make sure that your chosen field does not have requirements for licensure that would not be met by an out-of-state online program. These requirements are usually limited to health professions and teacher preparation programs. For more information, contact the director of your specific degree program.

Learn more about Online Programs at Tennessee Institutions