Do online courses help in college admissions?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “Do online courses help in college admissions?”, how they help and which ones you should take.

Do online courses help in college admissions?

Yes, online courses can help the student in college admissions. The organizations in charge of providing online courses are increasingly improving their academic level in the courses ensuring a better job offer and admissions to universities for the student who takes them.

Online courses are also called MOOCs (Massive open online courses). 

MOOCs are distance courses, accessible through the internet, to which anyone can join and has no limit of participants.

MOOCs generally are provided at no cost, permitting open up the online doors of colleges and universities to students around the world.

MOOCs began to appear in 2012 heralded as the revolution in higher education.

The institutions that offer online courses have a great advantage because they also offer a certificate once the student completes the course, in this way, any university will be able to verify that the student completed the course correctly. 

The university entrance exam is a very competitive environment. You can have an advantage over other students with the online courses with certificates in the admission process if it’s done in the universities that teach it.

Today, the most prestigious universities such as Harvard, MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Berkeley, among others, offer online courses with certificates on platforms such as Edx and Coursera.

There’s no excuse for students to improve their knowledge regardless of the day, time, distance from the comfort of their home, and in pajamas.

Colleges love to see that the students have taken online courses, this can earn them college credit. However, even if a student can’t credit is awarded for the course, because that demonstrates they are motivated to learn. 

There is no doubt a student will stand out beyond the basic curriculum requirement by taking online courses. 

Returning to our main question ‘’Do online courses help in college admissions?’’ We have to say that there are even MOOCs that offer an explanation of the college application process.

Also, senior instructional consultants at universities such as MIT(Massachusetts Institute of Technology) blindly recommend testing MOOCs before applying to college.

Use MOOCs before applying to university as the courses allow students to become familiar with the learning taught in universities.

Are online courses helpful to college credits?

These days, more and more universities are accepting credit for the realized courses via MOOCs.

Many of the courses are free and publicly available to anyone with an internet connection.

Class Central is a company in charge of research which online courses are useful to students.

Recently, Class Central updated a list of all the courses that are part of for-credit programs, on topics spanning technology, engineering, business, humanities, art & design, Health & Medicine, mathematics, etc. 

Below you can check out the list of MOOCs with credit-courses  for college application:

Global Freshman Academy from Arizona State University & edX

EdX was partnered with Arizona State University to create Global Freshman Academy, which offers full university freshman-level courses for credit. 

Some of the courses that you can apply for are:

  • MAT117: College Algebra and Problem Solving.
  • EXW100: Introduction to Health and Wellness.
  • CEE181x: Technological, Social, and Sustainable Systems.
  • HST102: Western Civilization: Ancient and Medieval Europe.
  • ASM246: Human Origins.
  • AST111x: Introduction to Solar Systems Astronomy.
  • ENG101x: English Composition.

Charter Oak State College & edX

EdX has partnered with Charter Oak State College, which offers full university freshman-level courses for credit. 

Some of the courses that you can apply for are:

  • 6.00.1x: Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python.
  • CS169.1x: Agile Development Using Ruby on Rails – Basics.
  • CS169.2x: Engineering Software as a Service (Saas).


Kadenze is a MOOC platform in charge of bringing together leading universities, and educators, to provide education in fields of art and creative technology.

Some of the courses that you can apply for are:

  • Touring Modernism: From the French avant-garde to American Pop and Beyond.
  • Introduction to Generative Arts and Computational Creativity.
  • Making Meaning: An Introduction to Designing Objects.
  • Introduction to Motion Design: Time and Transformation.
  • Visual Storytelling: Envisioning a Narrative for Film and Video Games.
  • Contemporary Museum Education.
  • Gender, Feminism, Art and Technology.
  • Foundations of Arts and Entertainment Technologies.

American Public University

When a student completes any of the approved MOOCs, American Public University will accept them as part of credits for college application.

Some of the courses that you can apply for are:

  • Introduction to Genetics and Evolution.
  • Interactive 3D Graphics.
  • Intro to Artificial Intelligence.
  • Intro to Computer Science.
  • Intro to Physics.
  • Intro to Statistics.
  • Bioelectricity: A Quantitative Approach.
  • Calculus: Single Variable.
  • Pre-Calculus.

Alternative Credit Project

When a student completes any of the approved MOOCs, the Alternative Credit Project will accept them as part of credits for college application.

  • Math226.2x: Linear Differential Equations.
  • Math226.3x: Nonlinear Differential Equations: Order and Chaos.

Do all Universities accept online courses for credits?

MOOCs or online courses have had a powerful impact on higher education and constitute one of the latest, most efficient educational innovations. 

There’re platforms offering helpful courses for admission in the college, however, there are universities that don’t accept this education alternative, because they don’t see any value in listing a MOOC on a college application. 

Who makes MOOCs?

Most MOOCs are made by universities. Some of the first and most active MOOC makers are Stanford, MIT, and Harvard. However, some MOOCs are made by companies, such as Microsoft or Google, or by various organizations, such as IEEE or the Linux Foundation. 

Why do universities offer online courses?

Offering online courses has been the key to allowing universities to remain active in student application options.

Online courses play an important role from the point of view of expansion.

When universities teach online classes allows them to know the needs, expectations, and difficulties of students when learning, creating new educational models that increase the quality of teaching.

Distance training or face-to-face training, which one to choose?

Online and face-to-face training are two different ways of acquiring knowledge. Although both pursue the quality of teaching, each uses its own method and establishes its own channels and learning guidelines.

Virtual education uses the Internet and information and communication technologies (ICT) to provide students with teaching tools (chats, blogs, videoconferences, or shared documents) that make the course more dynamic and more intuitive, and easy to follow. 

This system allows students to attend class, work, communicate, examine themselves, and access content from anywhere. Distance training is also characterized by fostering the autonomy and curiosity of students, collaborative work, critical thinking, and self-taught learning. 

This online system also diversifies the sources of knowledge. On the other hand, in face-to-face education, students go to a physical classroom where teaching and much of the learning takes place. In this modality, students acquire a more passive role and adapt to the rhythm and method of the teacher, who becomes the main source of consultation.

Until a few decades ago, the debate on online vs classroom training was non-existent for a simple reason: there was only classroom training.

In 1995 things began to change. On that date, the UOC (Open University of Catalonia) was born, the world’s first online university, and since then this type of learning has become the preferred option of millions of people. In fact, according to a study by the International University of La Rioja (UNIR) carried out by the consulting firm GAD3, since 2000, online training has grown 900% worldwide.

Most of the students have tried this type of teaching. 77% of the world’s youth have an online course on their curriculum, according to a Global Shapers survey published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the trend will only increase in the coming years.

North America and the Asia-Pacific region lead the online education industry which, according to the Global Online Education Market: Forecasts from 2018 to 2023 report, will achieve an annual growth rate of 10.26% for the next four years and will exceed the $ 286 billion of market value in 2023.

The decision is yours!

Are online courses important?

Today, knowledge and skills are essential for professional advancement. But, sometimes, work and training can be incompatible due to geographical, economic, or time reasons. For that, a large number of universities and institutions offer online courses, some paid and others free, covering topics such as Technology, Humanities, Economics, Medicine, and Communications.

More and more new platforms are emerging offering online educational programs, and several experts believe that the online education sector will continue to grow in the coming years.

Some of the most important benefits of studying online are:

  • More flexibility to organize your daily schedule.
  • Costs are reduced.
  • Self-discipline and responsibility are strengthened.
  • More diverse learning formats.
  • There are a lot, of course, options to choose from.

FAQSs: Do online courses help in college admissions?

Does Coursera look good on college applications?

Completing Coursera courses and earning certificates can be a good indication of your university application. Admissions officers get really excited when they read applications by students who demonstrate an unquenchable thirst for learning. 

Are MOOCs free?

Yes, most MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) teach courses completely free. One of the fundamental characteristics that MOOCs must have is that they have to be open to all users across the world.

What are the best MOOCs?

On the internet, you can find hundreds of platforms to take online courses. The most popular are; EdX, Coursera, Khan Academy, Udemy, Canvas, FutureLearn, Udacity, Open Education Europa,  Iversity, and Kadenze.

How do MOOCs work?

MOOCs are online courses available to anyone with a computer, tablet, or mobile phone and an Internet connection from home or anywhere. Students within these platforms learn in an environment similar to an online class, but they are generally unstructured and can be accessed without paying tuition or committing to an academic program.

Why do students prefer online learning?

The benefits of studying online are better than traditional schooling, students have the freedom to understand in their own rhythm speeding up or slowing down as needed, the schedules are flexible and instructors have individualized teaching models to address needs, strengths, weaknesses in all kinds of students.


In this brief guide, we answered the question “Do online courses help in college admissions?”, how they help and which ones you should take.

If you have any questions or comments please let us know.


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Moody, J. (2019). What College Applicants Should Know About MOOCs. Retrieved September 23, 2020, from US News & World Report website: