One of the most common questions we get from people who are considering enrolling in an online program is, “How much time will I need to spend on my courses?” Many prospective students are understandably nervous about how they will balance their schedules and whether they will be able to handle the demands of online learning.
Of course, everyone is different and the time you end up spending on your courses will depend to a large extent on the specific courses you take and your own individual study habits and level of self-discipline. But to give you a general sense of what you can expect, our undergraduate students have told us they spend an average of between 8 and 12 hours a week studying and completing assignments for each 3-credit course. Graduate-level courses tend to involve more extensive (often research-based) assignments, so they typically require more time on a weekly basis.
Like many adult learners, you are likely very busy and already have a lot on your plate with work, kids, family obligations, volunteer activities, and other responsibilities. These roles all compete for your time, so you may wonder how you can add the time commitment involved with online courses to your schedule. This is where organization and good time management come into play, as they will be crucial in helping you succeed as an online learner.
We have compiled many tips and resources related to time management and organizing your schedule on our blog and other channels. One of the most important keys is planning ahead. Your instructors will usually review the syllabus and course schedule during the first week of courses. This is when you can take important steps to prepare for the semester by plotting out important dates and deadlines on your calendar, and then working backward to ensure you allow yourself sufficient time to complete everything before it is due.
For long-term planning, here are some general guidelines about how long various types of online degree programs may take to complete.
Penn State World Campus programs are designed to be flexible enough to meet the needs of busy working adults. You can complete your courses on your own schedule and finish assignments at whatever hours of the day (or night) work best for you.
Explore available programs by topic area or degree type.