About Online Learning

Online learning is a lot like face-to-face learning, except you can access your classroom anytime, anywhere, and from nearly any device. A simple web interface makes it easy to access your courses, connect with instructors and classmates, check your grades, and get support when you need it.

A University of Wisconsin Education

A degree or certificate earned through one of the UW Extended Campus online programs is as recognized and respected as a UW degree or certificate granted to students who attend courses on campus. It offers you the same accredited, first-class education, renowned faculty, and rigorous standards that the University of Wisconsin is known for.

Our campus partnerships allow us to offer programs that combine the diverse expertise and resources of the UW System—one of the largest and most widely respected public higher education systems in the country. You’ll earn a degree or certificate that inspires trust in your knowledge and abilities.

Study Online, Anytime, While Staying Connected

Course content is accessible online from any device. Watch lectures, participate in online forums with classmates, and do homework whenever it’s convenient for you. Students in UW Extended Campus programs often say the online format is a big factor in their ability to earn a degree.

Though the program is online, you’ll still make strong connections with peers and faculty. You’ll receive personal attention from your instructors as they deliver lessons, direct you through activities, and answer your questions. You’ll feel connected and supported as you engage with other students through email, chat, video conferencing, discussion boards, and more. Our students often form professional connections that continue long after graduation, through a growing network of alumni across the nation and worldwide.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Learning

Online courses offer greater flexibility than classroom-based courses. Students still have deadlines and due dates, but there is never a specific time that you need to be online. This makes it much easier to earn your degree while still having time for work and family commitments. Online learning also eliminates the need to drive to campus, find a place to park, and hike to the classroom.

Online learning requires only basic skills, such as attaching a Word document to an email or posting photos on Facebook. If you experience an outage or technical issue with the online learning management system, technical support is available throughout the day and evening hours.

No, you never need to come to campus. However, you are welcome and encouraged to participate in the graduation ceremonies at your home campus.

Yes, instructors are available by email and phone, and some may use video conferencing software. There is also an “Ask Your Instructor” discussion board within each course. This allows students to post questions and everyone can see the answer. Some instructors keep online “office hours” as well.

No, you do not have to be logged in or participating at any specific time. Students live in all parts of the country, and it would be difficult to get everyone online at the same time. However, your courses will have deadlines. For example, a discussion post might be due on Friday. Some students may write their posts on Tuesday, and some may wait until Friday. This allows students great flexibility for their busy lives.

Tests are taken online in a learning management system. Some exams and quizzes may have time limits. When you log in and click “start,” the timer will begin and allow you the designated amount of time to complete the test. You will be given a window of time in which to complete each test (for example, Tuesday through Friday), and you will be able to log in and take the test when it best fits your schedule.

Some courses offer opportunities to work with fellow adult learners. Groups tend to work via email or virtually. There may be an extra piece of technology inside of a course to assist with a group PowerPoint presentation or other special situations. We provide any necessary tools like this inside of the course. Many students enjoy this group work and have formed friendships with their online colleagues.

How much time should you be studying per week? Research suggests that students should spend approximately 2-3 hours, per credit hour, studying in order to be successful in their courses. To see how that equation fits into your current lifestyle, we created a time management calculator to help you answer this question.

No, you will have a user ID and password that are unique to you. You can use these to access courses from nearly any device—desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone—so long as you have internet access and adequate processing capabilities.

Most semester-based courses require a textbook.  Textbook information is emailed to students each semester with links where they can go to purchase textbooks. Textbook information can also be found in your student resource lounge. Textbooks may be purchased through the UW Extended Campus Bookstore, powered by eFollett.

Most competency-based courses, like UW Flexible Option programs, do not require textbooks, however, if they are required, bookstore information is included in the course syllabus.


Course content is accessible from virtually any device—desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Some software applications you will use in this program require a desktop or laptop computer to run. Visit Technology Requirements for details.

If you experience an outage or other technical problem with your computer or with our online learning management system, our technical support team works generous hours to make sure you get back up and running quickly.

Distance Learning Education – State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement

On August 25, 2016, UW universities were approved as participants in the National Council – State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) which allows universities to provide online distance learning to students who reside in other states without having to obtain that state’s authorization.  Rather, universities must abide by the SARA Terms and Conditions and obtain approval each year to remain a part of SARA.  Part of SARA’s requirements include the creation of a complaint process in accordance with Wis. Stats. Ch. 39.85, et. al.  This state law provides that any current or former student who is enrolled in an online distance education program with a university that has been approved to offer distance education programs pursuant to the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) may file a complaint against the university. This complaint process shall only apply to the distance education activity of the university which is conducted across state lines. No other complaints shall be considered by the Distance Learning Authorization Board (DLAB). However, other resolution options may be available to the complainant as noted below.

For purposes of this process, a complaint shall be defined as a formal assertion in writing that the terms of this agreement, or of laws, standards or regulations incorporated by the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements Policies and Standards (SARA Policies and Standards) are being violated by a person, university, state, agency or other organization or entity operating under the terms of SARA.  If you believe you have a complaint or dispute that fits under the terms of SARA, please complete the online form and submit it within the time frames provided.  There are also FAQs to assist you in answering any questions you may have about the DLAB complaint process. To file a complaint, please complete DLAB complaint form and by following the process provided at this link: https://heab.state.wi.us/dlab/students.html#file.

For additional information about the Wisconsin Distance Learning Authorization Board, please go to the Distance Learning Authorization Board website.

For the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, please follow this link.

Have questions? Contact an enrollment adviser at:

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Enrollment advisers are available Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CST, or by appointment.