Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question about distance education at FSU? Below are some answers to frequently asked questions. If you can't find an answer to your question here, please don't hesitate to use our contact form to get in touch with a program specialist.

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What kind of schedule is FSU on?

FSU follows a semester schedule. You can find important dates and deadlines for each semester on the Academic Calendar at the Registrar's website.


What are the time and location requirements for each program?

Before applying, pay close attention to the course or program's time and location requirements. Online courses fall into one of three categories: asynchronous, synchronous, and mixed.

  • Asynchronous courses allow students to complete coursework at their own schedule within the parameters of the instructor's syllabus. In most cases, this means that course activities and assignments can be completed at any time during a given week of the course, rather than at a specific class meeting time. Most FSU online courses are asynchronous.
  • Synchronous courses require students to participate in real-time discussions or lectures that require logging in at a certain time and day.
  • Mixed courses require some face-to-face presence.

Can I complete my associates degree online?

Unfortunately, no. Online students are required to have completed 60 or more semester hours of transferable credit as determined by the Office of Admissions. However, students can complete any necessary prerequisite coursework through Florida Shines.


What are the technical requirements for online courses?

To participate in an FSU online course, you'll need a computer and operating system that are as up-to-date as possible (less than 3 years old). Make sure you have a stable, high-speed internet connection and virus protection software. Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are the recommended browsers for FSU's online courses. To optimize your learning experience, we also recommend you have headphones, a microphone, and a webcam. See Technology Recommendations for Learning Online for a complete list of recommended technology. Always consult your course syllabus and pay attention to communication from your instructor for any additional technical requirements.


Who plays what part in the online community at FSU?

Academic Advisors provide distance students a personalized degree roadmap; advise students on course selection, substitutions, prerequisites, and academic requirements; and monitor student progress.

Instructors teach the course content, providing clear instruction on the course's goals, a schedule for completing course activities, expertise in the content area, learning activities, and guidance for completing activities and assignments. Instructors teaching online courses frequently teach the same course in a face-to-face format.

Instructors may schedule specific telephone office hours or specific times within a chat room when groups of students may go online to have questions answered. They also respond through threaded discussions or individual email, and they make general announcements through the course website. Contact information is available in the syllabus or in the Contacts area of the course site.

Mentors act as online teaching assistants and learning facilitators. Mentors support student progress as learning coaches (clarifying course content and providing feedback) and as communicators (contacting students regularly regarding progress). Not all online degree programs use the assistance of mentors, but many do.

Students add value to the online experience, and student-to-student contact happens in a variety of ways, including group projects, discussion boards, chat rooms, and email.


How are courses delivered?

Online courses at FSU are delivered through FSU's learning management system, Canvas. Course menus in Canvas usually feature links to the syllabus and course content like lecture materials, readings, documents, websites, discussion forums, and other learning tools. Online courses may require that some things be done independently while others be done in conjunction with the instructor or other students. Throughout the semester, instructors post assignment grades to the Grades page in Canvas.


How does testing work?

Student assessment may be handled online in Canvas or via proctored exams at an external site or online provider. Proctored exams are at the discretion of the instructor. If your class requires proctored testing, your instructor will provide information in the course syllabus. There are three types of proctored testing: on-campus testing, off-campus testing at an approved facility, and off-campus testing via online service provider. Testing at FSU's main campus Testing Center is free for all FSU students. Students residing at a distance will need to use off-campus options. These usually involve a fee that is set by the facility providing the service. For more information about proctored testing, see the Proctored Testing page. 


Will my online degree meet professional licensure requirements in my home state?

If you're interested in an online program that may lead to professional licensure and you reside outside Florida, you'll want to make sure the program meets licensing criteria in your home state (or state where you intend to work). See the State Authorization & Licensure page for more information.


Does FSU have a complaint or grievance process for distance students?

Yes. FSU is committed to providing opportunities for students to air concerns and seek resolution. If you have a complaint, FSU provides several channels for resolution. See the Complaint Resolution page for more information.


What online courses meet general education and graduation requirements?

Many of our online courses meet general education and university-wide graduation requirements. We recommend first visiting the Liberal Studies Curriculum webpage for a current list of general education and graduation requirements. Once you’re familiar with the requirements, you can download a list of online courses that meet them. Not all courses are offered each term. To find out which online courses are currently offered, you'll need to search by course in Student Central.


Can main campus students take online courses?

Yes. If you're currently taking face-to-face courses at the main campus, you can register to take online courses as well. Keep these things in mind if you're interested in registering for an online course: Main campus students can only register for online course sections built specifically for main campus students (i.e., not sections built especially for distance students). You can find out what online courses are open to you by searching courses in Student Central. When entering your search criteria, make sure the Campus field is set to Tallahassee, the Course Attribute field is set to Physical Location, and the Course Attribute Value is set to Online.

Additional fees apply when enrolling in an online course: Online course sections have a distance learning fee and, if proctored testing is required by the instructor, you may be charged for testing at an approved, proctored testing facility or provider. Be sure to read the Notes section in Student Central when enrolling as it contains important fee information for the course. See the Proctored Testing page for more information.


If I'm a main campus student and go home for the summer, can I take online classes from there?

Yes. Please note, however, that if you're a main campus student, you can only register for online course sections built for main campus students. To find out what courses are open to you, search for courses in Student Central and make sure the Campus field is set to Tallahassee, the Course Attribute field is set to Physical Location, and the Course Attribute Value is set to Online.

Additional fees apply when enrolling in an online course: Online course sections have a distance learning fee and, if proctored testing is required by the instructor, you may be charged for testing at an approved, proctored testing facility or provider. See the Proctored Testing page for more information and be sure to read the Notes section in Student Central when enrolling as it contains important fee information for the course.


Is there a difference between a course designed for online learning and a course that is traditionally offered face-to-face but is being delivered remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

There is a difference. In a traditional on-campus course, students gather in a classroom with their instructor and engage with learning activities in real time. Interaction between students and instructors is organic and usually very high. This fall, because of the pandemic, some traditional in-person classes are being taught remotely through video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom, and FSU’s learning management system, Canvas. These classes are not normally delivered remotely. The remote instruction is an alternative teaching method that allows instructors and students to practice proper social distancing.

Courses developed and delivered online exclusively for distance learning incorporate alternative teaching strategies and instructional design to ensure that students experience interactions with peers and instructors even when learning at a distance. Designing and delivering an online class that offers similar engagement to on-campus courses for students typically takes more time, planning, and effort to create content and develop interactive activities. Faculty use instructional designers, instructor training, media production services, specialized software, and teaching assistants trained to support students in an online environment.


I am enrolled in a distance learning course. Why do I have to pay distance learning fees when students who are taking courses that are being taught remotely do not?

Courses developed and delivered online exclusively for distance learning students are significantly more expensive than their traditional on-campus counterparts. Costs include things like instructional designers, instructor training, media production services, specialized software, and teaching assistants trained to support students in an online environment.

To offset those additional costs, FSU charges a distance learning fee for courses exclusively developed and delivered online. Fees vary by course and consider the cost of curriculum design and development, technology for online delivery, course mentors, and online program support services. Distance learning fees only serve to recover the cost of providing the course online and are not used as a source of revenue. For students enrolled in fully online programs, the distance learning fee is often offset by other fee reductions and waivers. For example, FSU waives student health, transportation, and facilities use fees for distance learning students and significantly reduces athletics and activities/services fees.

Traditional on-campus courses do not assess a distance learning fee. Although additional expenses have been incurred to deliver these courses remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, FSU is absorbing these costs in order to prevent students from paying additional, unexpected fees for courses that would not typically have them.


I didn’t realize that I enrolled in a distance learning course. The same course is being offered remotely this fall. Can I switch?

Students who are enrolled in a distance learning course can contact their academic advisor to check availability for a section of the course that is ordinarily offered face to face.


When registering for classes, how do I know if I’m enrolling in a traditional, classroom-based course taught remotely or in a course developed exclusively for online delivery?

When registering for classes in Student Central, note the location field in each course and section. It’s possible for a course to have multiple sections, some offered remotely and some online. Class sections offered remotely will list the location as remote. Class sections designed exclusively for online delivery will list the location as online. If you need help finding remote course sections in Student Central, your advisor can assist you. Academic program specialists with the Office of Distance Learning are also available by emailing inquiries@campus.fsu.edu.


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