Many colleges and universities offer a variety of extension courses to help educate the community. These courses may take place on-campus or online, and, in some cases, the course may be a blend of the two. These classes may provide the ground work for certifications or continuing education credits for professionals. Schools will typically offer courses that meet the needs and interests in their community, and the courses offered may change periodically.
An on-campus extension course may occur in the evenings or weekends, allowing people with careers, families and other commitments to fit the course into their schedules. Large universities or colleges with multiple campuses may offer courses in locations throughout the community, and this may help students with limited access to transportation or people who may not have time to commute to the main campus. Classes often begin on varying dates, helping students find courses that fit well with their schedules.
People who take a college extension course do not have to take a placement test, enroll in the college or apply for admission to the school. These courses do not require prerequisite courses to prepare. Some courses may have beginning, intermediate and advanced levels, and the instructor may recommend that students take the courses in that order. However, instructors will often consider allowing a student into an advanced course based on experience or other factors.
The fees associated with courses vary by school, but some of the factors that may determine a fee include the duration of the class and any supplies required. If a student wants to take an extension course for college credit, the school may require credit-based fees. For continuing education courses, employers may help cover the cost of tuition.
In an effort to expand learning opportunities, some universities offer open courses in a variety of subjects. These courses, referred to as massive open online courses, do not have fees and have the same content offered to enrolled students. Methods of instruction may include videos, audio lectures, reading and online forums. Some courses may require quizzes and essays as part of the instruction, but this will vary, depending of the type of course. Depending on the school or course provider, a student who satisfactorily completes a course may receive a certificate of completion.