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NC Online FAQ

NC Online Frequently Asked Questions

Wondering if earning a degree online is right for you? Check out these frequently asked questions to get a better feel for the life of an online student.

How long has Northwestern College been around?

Northwestern College has been providing career-focused education to the Chicagoland community since 1902. Online classes continue the student-friendly tradition in career education and we attract students who appreciate a more personal learning environment.

Is Northwestern College accredited?

Northwestern College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (, a regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

In addition, many of our programs have programmatic accreditation. Click here to read more about our specific accreditations.

What makes an online education from Northwestern College different?

Northwestern College has over 116-year tradition of quality career education. Our programs are carefully selected to prepare students for careers that are poised for growth and demand. Our approach allows busy students to focus on their education and develop the skills needed to excel. Our online education is not impersonal; our entire staff from admissions to faculty is focused on our students and dedicated to helping them succeed.

What types of students earn their degree online?

Northwestern College online students are just like any typical college students. To be successful in college, a student, whether they attend a traditional on ground or online program has to want to succeed. Online learning requires independence, internal motivation, responsibility, and a certain level of maturity. Many online students have busy schedules which makes it difficult to attend class on campus. Others simply live too far from a campus to commute to class, but still want to earn a degree from a regionally accredited college. Students have various reasons for earning their degree online, but they all have one goal: to earn a degree that can help them advance their career.

Is online right for me?

Earning a college degree online from Northwestern College is a great way to broaden your career opportunities without having to travel to campus at specific times to attend classes. Although you can choose when you’ll study, you must be motivated to learn and able to find time in your busy schedule to complete assignments prior to deadlines.

Can online students receive financial aid?

Yes! Studying online does not exclude you from college financial aid at all; financial aid is available for those who qualify. Our financial aid staff will work with you to make the application process as stress-free and easy to understand as possible. They are available to assist you in identifying scholarship opportunities, completing required paperwork, and helping to ensure that you receive the financial assistance for which you qualify. We encourage you to read about financial aid options available to NC students.

How do online classes work?

Online classes are 100% online, meaning you never—unless you want to— have to visit a physical Northwestern College campus. In online classes, students attend courses by accessing the course web page and completing assignments according to the course schedule. We strive to create an interactive and engaging learning environment for our online students with frequent and regular communication with instructors and fellow students via email and online discussion forums. Our online courses provide the same academic quality and content as courses being taught on a Northwestern College campus. Once enrolled, you’ll receive log-in information, class materials and instructions on how to access classes. We even provide an online “Orientation” for first-time online students which you take prior to the start of the quarter. This will get you familiar with how the whole process works.

What kind of computer and software do I need to complete my courses? Do I need to have access to the Internet?

Most students find that a reliable computer or laptop with an adequate high-speed Internet connection is sufficient, and you do not need a top-of-the-line computer to complete assignments online. Students must be able to access the Internet, use a mouse and keyboard, save and print documents, use word-processing software to write papers, and be able to use the student email system. Your classes and materials are housed in the online learning system for you to access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For specific technical requirements see – Technical Requirements

How much time will it take each week to be successful in my online courses?

The amount of time you need to set aside each week to be successful will depend on how many courses you are taking, and your personal learning style. Northwestern College does require students to log into their classes a minimum of 3 times per week, participate in discussion boards, and meet course deadlines for assignments/tests.

Do I have to be online at a certain time each day?

No, you are not required to login at specific times each day, although most courses may have more than one assignment due date scheduled each week. Some classes may have live lectures that can be viewed anywhere you have Internet access. All students are expected to login multiple times each week and to stay on schedule with the course assignments. Some courses may also have group projects which will require the coordination of schedules among the group members.

What’s the difference between online and on-campus courses?

The difference between online and on-campus courses is the method of delivery. A Northwestern College student taking a course online and a Northwestern College student taking the same course on a campus will receive the same education, but the information is simply delivered in different formats. As an online student, you will be held to the same academic standards as an on-campus student.

What type of personal support is available?

Northwestern College strives to offer all students personalized support aimed at degree completion and career advancement. Each class has its own instructor, and you can always contact that instructor for questions and assistance with your online class. You will also have an entire network of student support advisors, including tutoring, career services, counseling and disability services, and technical support services to help you along the way.

What type of technical support is available?

Northwestern College offers technical support, available through phone or email.

Tell me about the instructors.

Northwestern College’s faculty brings real-world educational experiences to the classroom, providing students with the most current industry standards and practices.

How do I communicate with my instructor if I have questions?

Instructors are available by phone, email and instant messaging to answer questions and provide direction.

Will I use e-books or real textbooks?

NC courses use both eBooks and hard copy textbooks. Lessons are also supplemented with articles from relevant trade journals and news sources, as well as multimedia files.

How many students are in a typical online class?

We have small class sizes ranging from 7-20 students per class. Smaller classes make it easier for you to receive personal attention and support from your instructor, as well as build a strong bond with your classmates.

Can I attend a graduation ceremony?

Absolutely! Once you have completed your degree requirements, we invite you to attend a live graduation ceremony and walk across the stage with graduates from our other two campuses.

Where can I find more information about applying to a degree program?

If you are interested in learning more about the online degrees that Northwestern College offers, please complete our Request Information Form and we will contact you shortly. To speak with someone immediately, please call (888) 205-2283.

Is there any difference in the degree for an online program?

Whether you take your classes on-campus or online, Northwestern College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is authorized to award Associate in Applied Science degrees by the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Your credential for an online program is identical to one that an on-campus student would receive.

Can I earn my degree completely online? What degrees and academic programs are offered online?

Northwestern College offers degrees and certificate programs that are available completely online. Click on any of the programs below for a complete description.

Associate Degrees 

 Bachelor’s Degrees

Certificate Programs

How do I get started? How does the admissions and enrollment process work for online studies?

The admissions process for online students is not very different from the admissions process for on-campus students. You can start the enrollment and admissions process by filling out our online Admissions Application or first speaking with an Admissions Representative by calling (888) 205-2283. Since every student is unique and has different needs, Northwestern College assigns an Admissions Representative to work closely with you to simplify the admissions process.

Do I have to take a test to be admitted to Northwestern College?

For admission to Northwestern College, you must have proof of high school graduation or high school equivalency (GED). An entrance and placement assessment is required and can be completed online.

Do you accept transfer credits?

Credit for courses or degrees completed at another institution for students enrolling at Northwestern College will be subject to approval by the Registrar’s Office. These courses or degrees must be similar in content and duration to those offered in the program for which the student has applied. The Registrar will consider only official transcripts mailed directly to Northwestern College.

Does Northwestern College give college credit for life or work experience?

No. Northwestern College does not award college credit for life or work experience. You do, however, have the ability to obtain credit for classes via Credit by Examination if you feel you already have the knowledge and experience and don’t need to take that class. There is a fee for taking the exam and a minimum required score.

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