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BU Online Distance Education programs

What to Expect as an Online Student

Download Adobe Flash Player to watch our video and find out more about online study at Boston University.

Who are your Classmates?

As you think about becoming a Boston University Online student, it may be helpful to know the following details about our programs.

Studying Online

  • In most cases, Boston University online programs are completely online, which means students do not have to come to campus. Instead, we've designed an online environment which allows our faculty members to interact with students through the use of a Web browser. Course content varies, but usually includes online lecture, videos, interactive animations, discussion boards, and more. Students submit regular assignments including homework, projects and papers, through the Web interface. Most courses also integrate secure online exams.
  • In most cases, students are required to formally apply for Boston University Online programs. Applicants are reviewed by an admissions panel and are held to the same academic standards as on-campus students.
  • Online learning can require a lot of written communication. Because you will be learning at your own location and during the times that you prefer, e-mail will probably be your primary means of communicating with instructors and other students. In addition, most courses will ask that students engage regularly in online discussions and debates. As an online student, it will be important that you feel comfortable interacting with others from a distance, since you will not have the same face-to-face contact as a student learning on campus.
  • Online students take an active role in their education. A greater degree of flexibility also means that you’ll need to be disciplined in your approach to your studies—it will be up to you to make sure you log on to your course and meet your own deadlines, because your professor won’t be in the room to remind you to do so.
  • Technology plays an integral role in online learning—it’s what makes this all possible. To get started in a Boston University Online program or course, we recommend that students have basic computer skills, such as the ability to send e-mail, navigate the Internet, and install software. If you’re unsure about your computer skills, we’re happy to help you get up to speed.
  • Curious about what kind of technical components are required for online learning? You can find out what kind of computer, modem, and software you’ll need by visiting our Technical Requirements page

Course Schedules

  • Most courses operate on a seven-week schedule. Though you can complete course assignments during the hours that work best for you on a day-to-day basis, you will be required to finish the course within the allotted time period.
  • Each course has built-in deadlines along the way to make sure that you progress at a manageable pace.
  • Students enrolled in Boston University Online programs are typically able to complete two courses per semester by taking one seven-week course at a time.
  • Courses generally begin every seven weeks in January, March, May, July, September, and November, but—students can apply for and begin a Boston University Online program at almost any time throughout the year. Visit the Boston University Online Course Schedule to view current and upcoming courses.

Technical Support and Student Services

  • Boston University Online students have access to technical support 8AM to Midnight Eastern Time, seven days a week. If you are experiencing any difficulty accessing course materials, or if you have questions, there will always be someone who can help you.
  • Boston University Online provides a wide range of Student Services. The staff at the Office of Distance Education, your course facilitator, and your course instructor are all available by phone or e-mail to answer questions and guide you through your experience as a student. However, online students should be comfortable learning independently, taking the initiative to ask questions, and receiving instruction at a distance.