Q&A: How Do I Know What Programs and Courses a Particular School Offers?

Answer: This is a difficult question to answer. Online schools offer a wide variety of programs for students. Some schools specialize in one area. Examples are schools that only offer medical programs/certifications or schools that offer technical programs. Most schools offer required program courses, as well as general courses (sometimes known as electives).

Most schools are organized by departments. Each department houses educational programs and each program requires specific courses for completion and/or graduation. An example would be the department of liberal arts and sciences. Within this department, there may be several programs, including communication, criminal justice, history, psychology and sociology. When schools are organized by department, this usually means there's a staff person who manages each department. That person is often referred to as the "dean" or "department chair". These individuals are often faculty themselves and have years of teaching and/or educational administration or organizational experience.

The department chair may be in charge of which classes are offered and how many sections. A section is how many courses of the same exact subject and level are offered at the same time. For example, let's say you are thinking of taking HIS 100 (Introduction to History) in the upcoming semester. When you view the schedule, you see HIS 100 listed (6) six times and next to the class, you see how many available student spots are available. If there are 6 classes listed, there are 6 "sections" of HIS 100.

Remember, some colleges/universities have several departments and many programs to choose from and each program usually represents a major or area of study. Some schools have many online options and others may be limited. The best way to find out the programs and classes offered at each school is to look online at their website, call and ask questions, and thoroughly review the department and class schedules. There should be a staff person available to assist you -- an academic advisor, the student services department, or maybe the department chair may be able answer questions as well.

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!