Self-Paced Online College Courses & Degrees

If you’re someone that understands the meaning of responsibility and time management, then self-paced courses are probably the route you want to go when it comes to a college education. Students who pursue self-paced tracks typically find that traditional curricula move too slow for them. Within these programs, agendas and due dates are generally very loose, as they are specifically designed to accommodate busy schedules. Students pursue their degrees without the added stress of exam dates, overdue assignments, long commutes, or group projects. Though it takes drive and self-discipline to take part in these kinds of specialized courses, which are offered by multiple online colleges throughout the country, the rewards are high and long-lasting. Self-paced students enjoy the flexibility and freedom of learning at their own pace and on their own terms.

Self-paced online college courses are becoming increasingly popular because students are able to learn at their own pace. Many colleges are now offering self-paced online courses as a supplement to the traditional semester system. There is no fixed time or place for studying, and students can work around other commitments such as family, day jobs, etc. The flexibility of the system means that people of all ages are able to take part.

Many believe self-paced online courses are simply not as thorough or effective as traditional college courses, especially because students will have so much more control over their study schedule. Others argue that this new system actually makes learning far more effective since students can move at a speed that best suits them. Traditional courses can be a struggle for those who learn more slowly, but self-paced online college courses need not be a problem.

Students will have to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of both systems before deciding which one works best for them. There are certainly some clear advantages to self-paced online courses; however, the traditional semester system still has much to offer.

Related Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.


Procrastinators Need Not Apply

In general, self-paced online courses are a great option for working adults looking to finish their degrees. These classes are NOT recommended for procrastinators. Though the schedules are lenient, there are definite time limits and those who intentionally put off coursework will not be catered to. Students who fail to finish their coursework within the allotted semester may have to pay extension fees. These courses are recommended for self-motivated individuals that can stay on task unsupervised.

Online students should consider carefully whether regular or self-paced learning is the best fit for them.

Popular Self-Paced Online Colleges and Courses

Thomas Edison State University

TESU offers flexible online courses that allow students to finish their degrees at their own pace, when and where they want. The university offers more than 25 self-directed classes in a variety of fields, such as business, English, economics, and more. Courses are offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

An associate’s degree requires 60 credits to complete while a bachelor’s degree program requires 120.

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University of Illinois Online at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign is a world-class institution with a strong commitment to undergraduate education and research/scholarly activities. The university has been ranked in the top ten universities by the Brookings Institution for its contributions to the public good. It has also been ranked in the top 5th nationally by U.S News & World Report for its contribution to minority students in terms of quality and quantitative measures.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers self-paced virtual courses for both degree-seeking and non-degree-seeking students. These are designed to accommodate even the busiest of schedules and are open for enrollment year-round.

UI at Urbana-Champaign offers continuous, self-paced NetMath and Math Teacher Link courses, which provide short, online courses for math teachers of 9-14th-grade levels.


University of North Dakota – Online & Distance Education

The University of North Dakota offers “Self-Paced Enroll Anytime” courses. These are independent study mechanisms that take approximately 3-9 months to complete. Although self-paced students enjoy the flexibility and convenience of online (or even mail-in) curricula, no financial aid is available for these programs.

UND online offers 93 online self-paced courses covering topics such as chemistry, geology, economics, math, physics, psychology, and more.

The University of North Dakota, through its online college courses and programs, prepares more than 6,700 students annually for successful careers and lives. It offers more than 120+ course options, which include traditional and accelerated health care programs, designing and problem-solving programs, and competitive academic programs.

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Capella University

Capella offers Flexpath, a self-paced online degree program formatted to fit your lifestyle. With no preset class times or deadlines, students have the freedom to earn their degree at a much faster pace and at a minimal cost. For one flat tuition rate, students can take up to 2 courses at a time, allowing them to complete as many as possible in the space of 12 months. Flexpath offers both self-paced online bachelor’s and master’s programs in education, psychology, health care, and more.

Flexpath’s 1-year bachelor’s degree – $10,000; RN-to-BSN – $12, 800

Flexpath’s 1-year master’s degree – $9,600-$11,200

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Penn Foster College

Penn Foster College offers self-paced, online associate’s degrees and career diplomas. Students have up to 2 years to complete diploma tracks and up to 6 years to complete college degree programs, and extensions are requested before being approved. College-appointed proctors oversee the final exams. Penn Foster holds accreditation from the Distance Learning and Training Council (DETC).

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Western Governors University

Western Governors University is a self-paced online college accredited by the DETC, as well as four other regional accrediting agencies. Online students have no predetermined program lengths, meaning students can truly work at their own pace toward undergraduate or graduate-level degrees. These range in specialty from business, nursing, education, and information technology.

Average Bachelor’s Tuition: $6,670

Average Master’s Tuition: $7,405

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Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee offers Self-Paced Open Entry courses via face-to-face video chats, sync online, virtual study guides, and other network delivery methods. Instructors are available to assist students based on necessity. As long as homework and exams are completed by the end of the semester, and apart from certain proctored tests, the majority of coursework is completed independently. Students can take up to two courses at a time, paying an $8 per college credit hour student fee for open-entry classes.

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Self-Paced Online Course, Not For Everyone

While self-paced college programs offer convenience and flexibility for continuing higher education, learners can easily slip into bad habits of procrastination. If full or part-time students fail to complete coursework on time, they run the risk of paying extension fees or being dropped from their programs entirely. Those who can self-motivate and work unsupervised are the best candidates for online self-paced college courses. Those who can benefit from some supervision should choose campus-based college courses.

Related Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.