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Is an online course right for me?

Successful online students are comfortable managing their own schedules, approaching assignments with the same motivation they would in a face-to-face course. Take into consideration your learning style, study habits and access to and familiarity with technology. 

What computer configurations are required?

For all GW online courses, you will need access to a computer with certain minimum specifications, while a few courses that use graphic-intensive content or virtual 3-D environments may require more advanced capabilities. See Technology and Requirements for a full description.

How are online courses noted on my transcript?

There is no special designation for online courses on your transcript. Credit earned is factored into your grade point average, and your completed course will appear as any other GW course on your transcript.

How do I register for online courses?

Once you have been accepted into your program, you will receive a GWID number, which you will use to register for online courses. Follow registration directions provided by specific schools, programs and GW Admissions. Also review directions for adding or dropping a course and policies regarding late registration penalties.

When can I register for online courses?

Online courses are offered during spring, summer, and fall terms, and you may register during the appropriate registration period for the term. It is especially important to note the late registration deadlines and policies, as late fees apply. Some courses may require that you order books and materials from the bookstore in advance.

How do I add or drop a course?

Follow the drop procedures for your course as you would any other course. Course credits dropped after the start of classes are subject to a loss in tuition and fees. See policies concerning schedule changes, late registration and dropping courses. Failure to participate in an online class for which you are already registered does not officially withdraw you from the class.

How much do online courses cost?

The tuition for most online courses is the same as for campus-based courses. There are selected courses and programs with special tuition rates. Individual schools and programs will provide information on a special tuition rate.

How do I order textbooks and course materials?

Some courses require that you order materials such as textbooks, DVDs and CDs or software. We recommend that you purchase your materials from the GW Bookstore or from sources recommended by your professor.

How will I know when my class begins?

When the professor is ready to begin the course, he or she will send you an email to initiate contact and provide introductory information. In addition, use your GW email login and password to log into Blackboard and look for your course at, or a few days before, the beginning of the session.

Is an online course easier than a face-to-face course?

This really depends on your individual learning style. Online courses are no less rigorous in content than face-to-face courses. In fact, often they are especially intensive when a full semester of course content is offered in a condensed timeframe.

How is academic integrity ensured in an online environment?

Faculty who teach online courses are attuned to violations of the Code of Academic Integrity, including plagiarism, insufficient attribution of source materials, or file sharing. If you are at all uncertain about whether your conduct comports with the code, contact your professor in advance of submitting your work.

How do I follow course updates and activities?

Online courses use learning management systems, chiefly Blackboard and Embanet. You should log in and check the course site frequently for changes that include announcements, course content changes, interactive student discussion boards, group activities and graded assignments. In addition, your professor and colleagues may communicate frequently by email, using your GW email address.

How do I get help with an online course?

Treat your online course as you would any other course and contact your instructor for assistance. Your GW email or discussion areas within the online course are the primary modes of communication with faculty and classmates, and you can expect to receive communication from your professor and colleagues.

What do I do if I encounter technical difficulties while taking the class?

First try to troubleshoot your problem using the Blackboard FAQs. In the event of technical difficulties, it is your responsibility to notify your professor and request assignments so that you do not fall behind in the course.

  • Student Technology Services (STS)

A division of Information Systems and Services, STS provides technology support for the GW student community. Contact STS at 202-994-7041 or

  • ISS Help Desk

The GW Blackboard login page provides a few Blackboard FAQs and a link to the online GW Helpdesk. The Information Systems and Services (ISS) Help Desk has an extensive array of helpful information relating to the use of technology for the GW community.

  • Gelman Library Distance Education Services

GW has created a step-by-step guide through the Gelman Library System research process, tailored to the needs of off-campus students. Contact the Distance Education Librarian at 202-994-1357.