Online courses offer a flexible alternative to attending the traditional classroom by delivering a variety of educational resources via the Internet. Whether you're working a summer job, leaving Bozeman for a few months, or just trying to fit an extra class into your schedule, you can still begin or continue your MSU education by enrolling in one or more online courses.

Is Online Learning Right for Me?

Take the Quiz

About Online Courses

How Do Online Courses Work?

Online courses—also known as distance delivery courses—use a personal computer to connect participants from across the country and around the world via the Internet. Distance courses at MSU are offered on Desire2Learn, an online course delivery tool that allows students and instructors to interact with each other as a learning community on the Web.

Generally speaking, in an online course, you can expect to:

  • connect via the Internet with a personal username and password
  • participate in a course with set start and end dates (many classes have been developed with a structure similar to traditional on-campus courses with due dates tied to assignments, readings, and other course-related activities)
  • proceed through course requirements together with your class, but be able to access the course at a time of day that is convenient to you
  • make a time commitment that is about the same as for an on-campus course

Is Online Learning Right for Me?

Learning at a distance requires a different set of resources than traditional face-to-face learning. If you're thinking about taking an online course but are not quite sure if you're ready to make the commitment, take the interactive quiz to help you decide.

Whether it's face-to-face or online, a typical three-credit course offered over six weeks requires approximately 20 hours of time per week (in the classroom and outside of class). Such a course is equivalent to a half-time load.

Online instruction provides a level of flexibility that students find attractive. Also, with appropriate effort, the level of student-to-student and student-to-teacher interaction can exceed that of a face-to-face class. However, success in this environment requires a personal commitment and responsibility that is often much greater than that required in a face-to-face class. Before registering for an online course, think carefully about whether or not you have what it takes to be successful.

Learning to Use Desire2Learn

Information on how to use Desire2Learn is available via the Desire2Learn login page.

Required Equipment

At a minimum, online courses require:

  • A computer running either Windows XP or higher or Mac OS 10.X.X
  • A current browser
  • Internet access

To ensure that you are using a supported browser and your settings are optimized for the best possible online learning experience, go to the Desire2Learn login page.

How to Register

  • Registrar Courses
    You must be admitted to MSU in order to enroll in online courses offered through the Registrar; refer to the Admissions page for more information. Registration for online courses is done in the same manner as that for on-campus courses.  Refer to the Registration page for more information.  Online courses and on-campus courses are listed together, along with Course Reference Numbers (CRN), in the Summer Class Schedule.


  • Registrar Courses
    Fees for online courses are the same as those charged for on-campus courses.  Please refer to the summer fee schedule page.

Getting Started

  • MSU-Bozeman participants may use either their first.last Desire2Learn username or their NetID to login to Desire2Learn (D2L). Important: With either ID, D2L requires participants to use the password associated with their NetID to log in to D2L. Find out your first.last D2L username and/or your NetID via the Secure Area of MyInfo.
  • Set your NetID password at MSU's Password Help Page.
  • Once you know your first.last D2L username or NetID, you can login to Desire2Learn; use either Username coupled with your NetID password.

Summer courses will be made active by the first day of class.

For More Information

For more information about online learning, visit the Distance Learning Resources page. You'll find links to information about Desire2Learn as well as a full range of student services, library resources, and a comprehensive FAQ page.