Guide to Taking Core Courses Online

Posted on June 13, 2024

Posted on June 13, 2024

No matter what major you’re considering for your associate or bachelor’s degree, you most likely need to take core courses as part of your degree requirements. These courses cover broad subject areas to give you a well-rounded education and build a foundation for your advanced coursework. 

With the rise of online learning, many of these courses became available online. Taking your core courses online can make time in your schedule and potentially save you time and money on your degree. 

Find out more about your college core courses, what they are, and how you can benefit from taking them online. 

What Are Core Courses? 

Core courses, or general education (gen ed) courses, are courses that fulfill your education requirements for your degree. This is intended to provide a comprehensive education and encourage the exploration of other subjects outside of your degree path. 

While the specific subjects may vary from school to school, they generally include: 

  • Math: Basic college-level math courses, such as College Algebra, are a core requirement for most degrees to supplement high school math learning and ensure you understand basic math principles. 
  • English: English courses like English Composition I are required for most degree programs to build foundational communication skills that apply to any field. 
  • Humanities: Humanities courses like Art History I and US History I develop empathy and teach you about global cultures, which is important in our increasingly globalized business environment. 
  • Science: Most degree requirements include at least one natural science course with a lab component, such as Introduction to Biology or Introduction to Chemistry. These courses are important for building scientific literacy and critical thinking skills. 
  • Social Science: Social science courses, such as Sociology and Psychology, are focused on human relationships. They’re important for your future career to learn how to work with other people and understand how different systems impact our lives. 
  • Foreign Language: Some schools require a foreign language course if you didn’t have one in high school. Typically, these are Spanish or French, but other languages may be available to prepare for work in a global economy. 

Benefits of Taking Core Courses Online 

There are several benefits to taking core courses online, including: 


While the structure of online courses can vary, self-paced courses offer flexibility for you to complete reading and assignments on your own time. You don’t need to worry about fitting scheduled lectures or a commute into your busy schedule, so it’s easier to find time for coursework. 

Saving Time 

Along with flexibility, self-paced courses that you can take from home save you time. You can complete courses whenever it works for you, whether that’s after the kids go to school, on your afternoon lunch break, or late at night. You don’t need to worry about specific lecture times or getting stuck in traffic, which add to your overall time commitment. 


Tuition is often a concern with getting a degree, and core courses make up a lot of your credit load. Taking core courses online can save you money on tuition, not just per credit but in the costs associated with college attendance – housing, meals, and miscellaneous fees. In addition, you don’t have to pay for gas to get to class, parking fees, public transportation, or wear and tear on your vehicle. 

More Variety 

Core courses cover a lot of broad subject areas like science and English, but the specific courses available to satisfy your requirements can vary from school to school. Colleges and universities often have limited course offerings on campus as well. Online courses often have more unique courses that may satisfy your requirements while capturing your interest, such as Ancient Greek Philosophers for your humanities requirement. 

Tips to Complete Core Courses Online 

Online courses offer a lot of benefits over in-person courses, but they’re not necessarily a breeze. Succeeding in online courses requires discipline, time management, and technological fluency. 

Here are some tips to complete your core courses online: 

Limit Distractions 

Completing schoolwork wherever you want can be an advantage and a disadvantage. Lots of distractions can keep you from completing your work, so make sure you manage your environment to ensure you can focus entirely on your work. 

Develop Time Management Skills 

Time management is a learned skill. Sit down and look at your calendar, block out parts of your day for the tasks you need to complete – including schoolwork – and plan out your available time. 

Don’t Multitask 

Multitasking is the enemy of productivity. Though there may be distractions around you, don’t switch your attention from one thing to another. This only disrupts your focus. Sit down and focus on just your schoolwork according to your schedule. Your email, the laundry, and your social media feed can wait. 

Study and Complete Assignments 

This may seem like a no-brainer, but you can’t just blow off your schoolwork and expect to succeed – online or otherwise. Make sure to do the required readings, participate in discussion boards, attend lectures (even optional ones), and study for your quizzes and tests. 

Make Sure Your Credits Transfer 

If you choose to take your core courses online from a different school than your degree program, make sure your credits will transfer. Not all schools have credit equivalency, so you don’t want to waste time or money on courses that won’t benefit your degree. 

Discuss your plans with your academic advisor to ensure that your credits will transfer. Your advisor can go over the school’s credit transfer policy. If your school has partnerships with online providers, they can give you options to make the transfer policy more manageable. 

Where Can I Take My Core Courses Online? 

There are many options to take your core courses online, including your preferred school. But if you want to complete your core courses in addition to your regular schedule, you can take summer courses at your school or online courses through your local community college. 

Another option is an online learning platform like Sophia. With over 60 self-paced courses covering the gen ed subjects and a straightforward subscription plan, you can complete several core courses on your own schedule. Sophia also has partnerships with 60+ colleges and universities, and over 1,000 institutions have reviewed Sophia courses for credit. 

Complete Your Core Courses Online with Sophia 

Core courses are part of virtually every degree program. If you want more flexibility with your gen eds and possible time and money savings, Sophia can help you knock out gen eds according to your own schedule. Explore our courses and start your free trial today! 

Category: Higher Education

Subscribe to our blog

About once a month, we'll send you Sophia news, educational insights, and more. Only the good stuff - we promise.

*All fields are required.

Thanks for subscribing!

Start a free trial no credit card required!

Try a Sophia course for free. Your free trial work is applied toward course credit when you become a member.