Online Courses – Identification

Bylaw: Article V, Section B, Item 9

“Any credit hour attributed to a course that is recorded on the transcript with a grade and credit hours earned. Institutional credit hours shall be accepted for eligibility certification purposes only after the instructor submits the completed course grade in the normal manner to the institutional registrar for posting on the transcript.”


Online courses should be treated like any other course. If the course shows as a graded course with credits earned on the official transcript per the definition of institutional credit, the online course can be used for identification and eligibility purposes.

Background and Intent

Most online courses are not distinguished from on-ground courses on instituional transcripts. Further, even in situations where the transcript does note the course was taken online, the NEC’s interpretation has been that a student’s eligibility should not automatically be impacted any differently than an on-ground course, as the format of the course may be irrelevant to the content, and it may be outside of the student’s control to choose the format of the course he or she enrolls in.


If the online course appears in a term on the instructing institution’s transcript, the course can only be counted in the term in which it is placed by the instructing institution. If the course is not assigned to a term, the certifying institution must use its institutional policy for all students to determine in which term the course must be placed. If the course is not assigned a term by the instructing institution and the certifying institution does not have a policy for placement of online courses, the time frame of the online course must be compared to the normal academic calendar of the certifying institution. The online course must be placed in the term where the bulk (more than 50%) of the course falls within the normal academic calendar at the certifying institution.

Related Bylaws

Article V, Section B, Item 8 – Identification

Article V, Section B, Item 21 – Term of Attendance

Related Interpretations

Institutional Credit – Transfer Credit

NEC Interp – Creation date November 2006. Current as of: September 2013.