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Common Questions


That really depends on you, your time management skills and the support you can count on from your friends and family. You need to be sure you have enough time to read the course material, attend classes (if synchronous), complete the assignments and engage with your classmates in discussion forums and other course activities. Your graduate adviser can help you figure out how many classes each semester is right for you.

Online classes cover the same material as on-campus (live, face-to-face) classes, but all interaction between the professor and students is online. Professors post course material (such as readings and lectures) and all class activities happen online. Class discussions are facilitated through forums in Moodle, SUNY Potsdam’s learning management system (LMS).

Online courses can be fully asynchronous (where there are no class meetings at a specific time), synchronous (where you meet online at a specific time each week), or a combination of the two. If you’re not sure if there is a synchronous component to the course, you should check with the instructor.

Online means that all interaction for the course is online through the learning management system (LMS). Hybrid courses include some required meeting times at a scheduled time and place. For hybrid courses, you will know when and where you will have class before the semester begins so you can make plans to attend.

You communicate one-on-one with instructors or students using the learning management system (Moodle) system. Your instructor will be available during weekly office hours that are posted on the course site. You can also communicate with your instructor by phone or email. It’s no different than being on campus, but you’ll be online.

Online courses run on the same timeline as in-person courses! If you’re taking a Summer or Winter course, it’s possible that your course may only run for a part of that semester. Make sure you verify the dates of your courses on BearPAWS, and reach out to your instructor and/or refer to your syllabus for your course schedule and deadlines.

Online classes require a great deal of self-motivation and discipline, as well as exceptional time-management skills. Your level of writing will hold a great deal of weight, as traditional classroom participation is substituted with online discussion forums, where you’ll be expected to hold meaningful discussions with your classmates and instructor regarding the course material. While courses will vary, remember that you will need to spend 10-20 hours a week for each online course!

To successfully participate in an online class, the minimum technology that you’ll need is access to a laptop or desktop computer with reliable internet access. Depending on the course you’re taking, there may be additional things you’ll need such as specific computer software or web browser plugins. Contact your instructor ahead of time to make sure you’re readily prepared to start your course!