USU Online Student Handbook | Course Information

USU currently offers fully online courses as well as blended online courses which require the student to meet at a local center on occasion. Online courses typically follow the same semester dates as the rest of the courses, but you can also take 7-week courses or online courses with Accelerated options.

What is an online course?

Students who take courses online take their entire course on the internet through a system called Canvas. Online courses do not meet at a specific time or location.

You register for online courses during open registration. Online courses have an "O" in the second digit of the section code (i.e. ENGL 1010.LO1). Most online courses follow USU's semester schedule. On the first day of the semester, you should log into Canvas to become familiar with course structures and requirements. You must submit assignments online and interact with your instructor and classmates via email and online discussions.

Some online exams must be taken under the supervision of an approved proctor, an educational official who supervises a student during an exam. While most local proctoring services are free, some may charge small fees. If you need additional information about proctored testing, please visit our Materials and Testing Services website. As an online student you will use this website to find USU certified proctors.

When do online courses start and end?

Most courses follow USU's semester schedule. Specific course dates are shown when registering for a course in Access (Banner), our online course registration program. View the academic calendar for current semester start and end dates. In general:

  • Spring courses run January to April
  • Summer courses run May to August
  • Fall courses run August to December

How do I attend/participate in my online course?

Online courses are conducted in an online learning management system called Canvas. You will need regular access to a personal computer to access the course online. Courses are designed for students to submit assignments online and interact with their instructors and classmates via email and online discussions. On the first day of the course, as listed on your schedule, you should log in to Canvas to become familiar with the course structure and requirements. If the course link does not appear in Canvas on the day when your course should start, contact your instructor.

How much time does an online class take?

For full semester course, you should plan to spend 3 hours a week on coursework for every 1 course credit. For a 7 week course, you should plan to spend 6 hours a week for every 1 course credit.

For example, in a full semester 3 credit course, you should plan 9 hrs. per week, reading content, watching lecture videos, participating in discussions, external reading, course projects, and exams.

The following table displays the expected number homework hours of and the corresponding number of hours expected to be spent on coursework:

# of Course Credits  # of Expected Coursework Hours per week
  Full Semester 7 Week Session
1 3 6
2 6 12
3 9 18
6 18 36
12 36 72

Using this formula, 12-15 credits is considered to be a full-time student, working 36 - 45 hours on coursework.

What do I need to take online class take?

Online classes have some particular technology requirements. There are some other technology tools that may make your experience easier. In order to be able to access your online coursework. You will need at least regular access to a computer with:

  • A reliable internet connection (preferably high speed)
  • The latest version of Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Safari
  • A PDF reader
  • A word processor (Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Open Office, etc.)
  • Speakers or headphones

It is preferred that students have a personal computer (desktop or laptop) with a webcam and microphone (built in or as an accessory) which are required if students intend to use virtual proctoring. A smart phone or tablet will also allow students to access the mobile app available.

Will I need a test proctor for my online course?

If the instrutor requires tests to be proctored, he or she will should inform you on the first day of the course. Most likely this information will be in the syllabus. The proctor's role is to verify the identity of the student taking the exam to ensure that the instructions specified by the instructor are carried out.

If you do not live near a USU Regional Campus you will need to find someone to proctor your exams through the Materials & Testing Services website.