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Questions You Should Ask When Enrolling in an Online Program

Are you considering enrolling in one of MSU's Online programs?

We want to help you prepare so that the program you choose meets your needs. The questions below are designed to help you do your own research, narrow down the choices, and find the right program for you.

What Do You Expect of the Program?

When it comes to selecting an online program, you should focus on your needs as a student. The best program will be the one that fits your requirements, academically, professionally, personally, and financially.

Program Expectations of Me

How long does it typically take to get a degree or certificate? 

Although MSU offers some seven-week courses online, in addition to full-term programs, most degrees are earned in four years for students who attend full time.


Does the program require me to go to campus or another location for instruction, labs, internships, or other practical experiences?

Online course professors may not require students to meet at specific dates and times online or on campus. Optional meetings may be offered, but students are not penalized for non-attendance. Also, faculty may require proctored exams in their online courses, but students may take those exams at approved, off-campus locations during instructor-specified timeframes.

My Expectations of the Program

What competencies and/or knowledge, skills, and abilities will I gain?

Students will not only gain knowledge and competence in their chosen disciplines/majors, they will gain time management skills, an appreciation for a community of learners, technical skills, and cooperative and active learning skills.

If I Will attend as an out-of-state student, does MSU have approval to serve students in my state?

MSU is an approved NC-SARA institution.

Who is the typical online student at MSU and does that sound like me?

Most undergraduate online students are from ages 18 to 34; most graduate students fall between the ages of 25-64.

Does the program address my time constraints?

All online programs are completely online. Proctored exams may be required, but may be taken at approved, off-campus sites during an instructor-specified timeframe.

MSU also offers several hybrid programs which provide opportunities for students to meet each other and their instructors up to 15 hours a semester. Many professors use the time for orientations and/or exams

What Learning Experiences Are Used in the Program?

The Overall Learning Experience

Will I learn on my own? Will I need to teach myself?

Faculty teaching MSU's online courses are required to provide students with an interactive learning experience by answering student questions within a reasonable amount of time and by providing timely feedback on assignments.

How will learning take place? Will I be reading information, watching recordings of lectures, or participating in videos/simulations made especially for distance students?

MSU faculty develop their own online courses which are offered via Blackboard learning management software. They may use a variety of sources to provide course content such as original, ePublisher, and open source content.

The Typical Course Experience

How many students are in the typical online class?

The recommended enrollment in MSU's online courses is 25, although this varies by discipline and course content.

Do the classes meet synchronously (faculty and students meet at the same time) or asynchronously (students do not have to meet at the same time)?

MSU's online courses are asynchronous although some professors may require proctored exams which may be taken at approved, off-campus sites during an instructor-specified timeframe.

Are courses primarily text-based or do they include multimedia?

This varies depending on the subject and the faculty's preferences.

Do courses use innovative modes of instruction, such as virtual reality, game-based instruction, or project-based learning?

This depends on the subject and the preferences of the faculty.

How often will I interact with faculty and other students?

Interaction with your professor should be frequent, 24-48 hours; interaction with fellow students depends on the course design and content, although best practice mandates that course designers build student-to-student interaction into them.

How are tests and other assessments handled? Am I required to go to a specific testing location or to use special testing software? Is there an additional fee or cost for this?

Some of MSU's online professors may require test proctoring which they conduct. Students who cannot come to campus to take proctored exams may take them at approved, off-campus sites. These sites may charge testing fees.

Is the course content accessible to those with disabilities?

Professors are required to make course content accessible and are provided various training opportunities and resources to assist in this effort. If you encounter and barriers to your success, reach out to Disability Services.

Student Support

What student support services are available at a distance, such as registration, financial aid help, bookstore, library, tutoring, and advising? Do I have to go to campus for these services?

Most of these services may be completed online through MyMoreheadState.

If I am enrolling in a certificate or degree program, how will I access academic advising to make sure I stay on track and meet my goals?

View information about academic advising.


If I am sight-impaired, hearing-impaired, or have other accessibility needs, what services are available to assist me?

Students with disabilities may register with Disability Services for accommodations.

Are there support services for active-duty military, their families, and veterans?

MSU offers several resources for veterans. For more information, visit Veterans, Active-Duty & Military Connected Students.

Money Matters

As you know, your education is an investment and you need to understand all the costs associated with it. Whether face-to-face or online, there are often fees and other items you may need to acquire (such as a computer), in addition to tuition.

How much will I spend in tuition?

Undergraduate tuition and graduate tuition rates are available at Tuition and Fees.

How much will I spend in fees? Are there special fees I must pay as an online student?

All student fees are listed at Tuition and Fees; a distance learning fee of $15 per credit hour is charged per undergraduate and graduate online course.

Am I required to pay fees for services I won’t access as an online student, such as the campus gym or parking? Are there any special fees or costs, such as for proctoring, software, hardware, video cameras, or travel to campus or a specific location?

Semester fee charts and miscellaneous fees are available at Tuition and Fees. A fee of $15 per credit hour is charged for courses. MSU students are not charged for use of the Testing Center. Distance students visiting campus may obtain a free visitor’s pass for a specified length of time in lieu of purchasing a parking pass. All students are charged a $100 per semester mandatory fee for use of the Recreation and Wellness Center.

How much will I spend on my course materials, such as books and online resources?

A student estimated annual budget, including books and tuition, may be found at Tuition and Fees.

Are “open” or low-cost textbook options available?

Textbook selections are dependent on faculty preferences, but MSU’s University Store provides a selection of new and used books, and some faculty use ebooks in their online courses.

What financial aid options are available?

Financial aid options are available at Affording College.


To be successful in your courses, you will need certain technologies, such as a computer and a reliable internet connection. If you can’t make that purchase now, make sure you can study, access classes, and complete assignments at a public library or other public access location. Make sure their operating times are convenient for you.

What are the specifications for the computer and software required for me to participate in my course?

You can run a systems check through Blackboard’s Browser Checker to ensure that your computer and software are capable of effectively using Blackboard.

What level of internet access will I need?

Online students require a reliable computer and internet connection to successfully complete an online course. Students who do not have a computer may access their courses at the Camden-Carroll Library, campus computer labs or at a local public library. Note: some public libraries block certain web addresses; students should verify with the library’s IT support that they will be able to access Blackboard. Some libraries may charge usage fees and may have time limits on their computers.

To function properly, Blackboard requires a high-speed internet connection (cable modem, DSL, satellite broadband, T1, etc.). The minimum internet connection speed to access Blackboard is a consistent 1.5 Mbps (megabits per second) or higher. You can check your speed settings using a speed test.


Does MSU offer discount programs for purchasing computer hardware and/or software for online students?

MSU has many software programs available for free student use. The University also participates in the Microsoft Imagine Academy which grants STEM students access to several Microsoft products. Interested students must register using their MSU email account. Other software is available for download, including ftp and telnet clients and web browsers.

Can I complete an online course using my mobile device? 

Students can access their Blackboard courses using the Blackboard App, though it is recommended that coursework be completed using a Windows or Mac computer. Mobile browsers are not supported by Blackboard.

Is technical support available?

The IT Help Desk provides multiple services for distance learners including Blackboard support. The Help Desk is open Monday thru Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You may stop in at 111 Ginger Hall, or contact them at 606-783-HELP (4357) or