Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Eligibility, enrollment, and registration
- Do I have to be a Cornell student to take an online course?
- How old do I have to be to take an online class?
- How many classes can I take?
- How do I enroll and register?
- I have registered. What happens next?
- What if I change my mind and want to drop my class?
- What are the technical requirements for an online course?
- What do I do if I need technical assistance?
- How do I get access to the class materials?
Tuition and payments
- How much does an online class cost?
- When do I have to pay?
- What are acceptable payment methods?
- Is financial aid available?
- Will I get my money back if I drop the class?
- May I take a class as non-credit and pay a reduced tuition?
Credits, grades, and transcripts
- Will the credits I earn count toward my degree requirements?
- What kind of credit do I get?
- How will I be graded?
- How do I get my grade?
- Will I have a Cornell transcript?
- What kind of student does well with online learning?
- Is there a class outline (syllabus)?
- What methods will be used to teach my online class?
- What do I do if I have questions about an assignment?
- How much time will I spend in my virtual classroom?
- How much time will be involved in homework?
- How do I get homework assignments, tests, etc.?
- Will classes meet at a specific time?
- May I begin my online class early?
- What if I can’t start the class on the date it’s scheduled to begin?
Do I have to be a Cornell student to take an online course offered by Cornell's School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions (SCE)?
No, SCE has an open-admissions policy for all courses offered during the Summer and Winter Sessions, including our online courses. In addition, as a member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA), Cornell is approved to offer distance education to students in all fifty U.S. states. For more information, see our state authorization page.
You must be at least a high school sophomore, junior, or senior.
Because of the intense nature of study during the Summer and Winter Sessions, students may enroll in no more than eight credits during a six-week Summer Session and no more than four credits during the Winter Session.
If you are a high school student, see the online courses page on the Summer College website.
If this is the first time you enrolled in a class at Cornell University, you will be assigned a NetID. You will need a NetID to participate in your class, gain easier access to your transcript, obtain your grades through Just the Facts, access library services and Blackboard/Canvas, use Cornell's network services, including email, set up mail forwarding, complete online evaluations, and more.
All students enrolling in an online course are encouraged to contact the instructor before the course begins. Instructors typically have information to share with students prior to the start of class and may want to confirm that all students have an adequate connection to the online learning site.
You may drop a class by completing a change-in-enrollment form.
Most online courses are offered through Cornell's Blackboard/Canvas.
If you are having technical problems your first contact should be the IT Service Desk. In most cases they will be able to resolve your questions. The IT Service Desk will also be able to direct you to the right resource if you need additional support.
Once you receive your NetID, the faculty member teaching the course will contact you with instructions for accessing the course materials, syllabus, and other class information.
Cornell tuition does not include textbooks for the class. You may be required to purchase textbooks.
Some Cornell students may be eligible for financial aid. Please contact the Office of Financial Aid for information.
No. Online classes are taken for credit, and the per-credit tuition applies.
If you're a Cornell undergraduate, check with your college before submitting the course-enrollment form to make sure that credit for the online course will count toward your degree.
If you're a candidate for a graduate or undergraduate degree elsewhere, consult the appropriate official in your college or university to make sure that the credit you earn at Cornell will count toward your degree.
At the successful completion of the class, you will receive Cornell University credits.
The criteria for grading will be established by the faculty and outlined on the class syllabus. Online learning is very similar to an on-campus class experience; in this case the classroom is virtual.
Approximately ten days after the end of your class you may log into your Cornell Student Center to view your grades.
Students who excel in online courses are generally organized, motivated, independent, and have good time-management skills.
Methods vary by course and instructor but may include pre-recorded or synchronous lectures, videos, podcasts, PowerPoint slides, interactive chat rooms, blog posts, and more. Please refer to the syllabus for your course for details about how your class will be taught.
In many cases you can find the syllabus in the class description. If not, please contact the department offering the course.
Online learning takes place in a virtual classroom, but the skills used to succeed in it are very similar to those needed for an on-campus class. Questions about assignments or any part of the class should be directed to the faculty or teaching assistant by email or phone, or through the instructional software, Blackboard/Canvas.
You should plan to spend at least 37.5 hours in your virtual classroom. Remember, this is an entire college semester offered in just a few weeks.
For each hour spent in your virtual classroom, you should plan on two to three hours of homework.
Homework, tests, paper assignments and more will be clearly communicated on the class website as well as directly by the professor.
With online learning, you may view the course materials on your own schedule. The content will be available to all students 24/7. However, you may be required to meet at set times with the faculty member.
It is often possible to begin readings and preparation prior to the first day of class. Please work with your professor to see if this is an option for your class.
One of the great things about taking an online course at Cornell is that once the course has started, you can sign in to access the content at any time. However, if you need to delay the date you actually start the course, it is best to contact the faculty member directly to see if it is possible to catch up on a couple of days' work.
If you need help finding an instructor’s contact information, please call the SCE office at 607.255.4987, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.