Is the Time Required for Online College Classes Equal to Regular ClassesIf you’re thinking about attending school as a distance student, you may be wondering about the time required for online college classes. You should generally plan on spending just as much time studying for an online class as you would a regular class, but you may find that online courses require more or less time than traditional classes depending on the type of student you are.


It’s easy for professors to tell whether or not students are participating in the classroom, but it’s much harder for them to differentiate between involved and uninvolved students when the entire course is online. Because of this, professors who teach online courses may require students to show participation by writing journal entries or posts on classroom forums. Some students can post their thoughts easily, but others find that putting their opinions and feelings on paper is much harder than writing a factual essay or doing problem sets. When taking an online class, you might be required to do these types of assignments multiple times every week. They probably won’t actually take that much time, but even if it’s only a few words, it might feel quite tedious if you have to post something every day.

Tests and Quizzes

Students are often allowed to use notes and textbooks during tests and quizzes if they’re taking a distance course. Don’t assume that the time required for online college courses is less than traditional courses because of this, though. While you may be able to look at your textbook during a test, you may find that the time limit restricts the amount of material that you’re able to look up while being able to finish the whole exam on time. You may also find that some online professors are more likely to give essay questions that make you think critically and ask about your thoughts. Your answers to these questions will have to show that you really understand the material, and you probably won’t be able to find the answers in your textbook or even look them up on the Internet within the time limit.

Related: What Kinds of Tests Do Online Colleges Have?

Class Time

You’ll probably spend less time “in class” – watching lecture videos and interacting with your classmates and professor – than you would in a traditional classroom setting if you take an online course. This doesn’t mean that you’ll spend less total time on your schoolwork, though. According to, students should study two hours per week for every credit hour that they’re taking; however, this rule assumes that you’re also spending one hour per week inside the classroom for every credit hour that you’re enrolled in. Since students in online courses are supposed to learn the same material as students in traditional classrooms, you should plan on spending the same total amount of time studying. This means that no matter how you split up your time, you should plan on spending a total of three hours working on schoolwork for every credit hour that you’re taking.


Taking a distance course can be different than taking a regular course in many ways, but that doesn’t mean that it will be any less work overall. In short, the time required for online college classes should be about equal to the time required for regular classes.

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