Q&A: How Many Online Classes Should I Take at One Time?

Answer: This answer varies depending on the class subjects, as well as the amount of time you have to dedicate to your class and homework. It also depends largely on your particular program and the length of its classes.

Some classes require more time than others, either because the subject requires more work or because the subject may be more difficult. Examples may be research classes; math classes; writing courses; etc. Educational research states for every hour spent in a college course, the student should spend 2-3 hours (outside of the course) studying. This means if you are spending 12-15 hours doing coursework, you should be spending an additional 24-30 hours preparing and studying. For most online students, 1-2 classes with an intense workload is the most they can manage.

Most online students have other responsibilities, usually family and/or employment. The more classes a student takes, the more important time management is. To be a student, in addition to life's other tasks, means scheduling time to study and get online around your work schedule. This means less "free time" for leisure and maybe less time with your family (temporarily).

The length of online classes differs. Some classes are offered over 4 or 5 weeks. Others may be 8 or 10 weeks. Shorter classes mean the same amount of work in a shorter amount of time. Therefore, if you are taking shorter classes, you may want to limit your class load to 1-2 classes (again, depending on the subject and work). If your online classes are longer, as in an entire traditional semester (16 weeks), you may be able to handle more classes.

As a student, you have to know your strengths and what you need to work on. If you are good at time management and have great study habits, than you may be able to handle a larger class load. If you've struggled with certain subjects in the past, than you probably need to put forth more effort and time into doing well in these in the future. Therefore, don't push yourself into taking multiple classes at once. You have to plan ahead and set yourself up for success, not failure.

Dr. Beverley BrowningDr. Beverly A. Browning (Dr. Bev) has been a higher education adjunct faculty member for over 25 years. She has taught in the classroom and online for multiple colleges and universities including Spring Arbor College, Baker College of Flint, Mott Community College, and Rio Salado College. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Spring Arbor College and Mott Community College. She is currently an online instructor for ed2go.com (Cengage Learning). In addition to founding and directing the Grant Writing Training Foundation, Dr. Bev is also Vice President of Grants Professional Services for eCivis, Inc. She is the author over over 37 grant-related publications and a frequent keynote speaker and workshop presenter for national and regional conferences. Dr. Bev is a product of lifelong learning and an advocate for online teaching and learning!