Online Courses FAQ

What is an online course?

An online course is a course that students take entirely on the web. Students who enroll for online courses can be located anywhere - in any city, state, or country. Students may also enroll in online courses while living in East Lansing and taking other on-campus courses.

Who manages online courses?

The Learning Design and Technology, IT Services team provides technical support to faculty developing online courses. MSU Global and the colleges manage promotion and marketing of online course offerings. For information on pedagogy and techniques for online or hybrid (combination of in person and online) courses, visit

How is an online course scheduled?

If the course has been offered online before, departments may simply schedule a section in the same way they schedule other on-campus or off-campus sections. Generally, these sections fall in the 73x series.

What if the course has never been made available as an online offering?

Existent MSU courses or new MSU courses can be offered online. The University must approve new online course offerings. Please telephone Libraries, Computing and Technology (353-0722) to discuss prospective online courses. Generally, a new online course offering is preceded by a meeting among the Vice Provost for Libraries, Computing and Technology; the Director of MSU Global; the faculty member of record who will teach the course; and the department chair and/or college dean.

All new courses and all permanent course changes, whether or not they will be taught online, need University Committee on Curriculum approval. New courses that receive interim approval from a college may be scheduled for the next semester or summer session by contacting Joy Speas (, 355-8420) in the Curriculum and Catalog section of the Office of the Registrar. This interim approval is good for two years although most courses are approved permanently by the University Committee on Curriculum during the year they are submitted.

What is the deadline for establishing online sections?

For a course that has been offered previously as an online course, the deadline is no later than the preceding Middle of Semester date established by the Registrar's Office. Please visit the Academic Calendar page, select the appropriate year and click on Important Internal Deadlines for a particular semester to find the exact date.

If the course has never been offered online before, then it is important to set up the preliminary meeting as soon as possible with Libraries, Computing & Technology at 353-0722 for more information. In general, two semesters ahead of the course offering date is reasonable to allow time for development, promotion, and college interim approval. However, that schedule can vary according to course content and unit need.