Self-Paced Course Policies & Procedures

Course Policies & Procedures

Getting Started

You may consider yourself enrolled in a course as soon as registration is confirmed. You may begin working on lessons the same day you receive email confirmation.

Studies have shown that students who turn in their first lesson within two weeks of registration are more likely to complete the course than those who wait. To increase your chances of success, be sure to begin course work as early as possible. Set up a schedule for submitting work and mark your calendar.

Terms Of Enrollment/Extensions

Course credit for self-paced offerings is registered on the quarter that the student enrolls for the course. For self-paced courses that may extend out to six months, however, the course will show on the student’s transcript but not be applied to the GPA or overall credit load until the course is completed. 

You may renew your registration for an additional three months by completing the Self-Paced Extension Request Form before the original registration lapses. A service fee of $50 will be charged to your student account. Only one extension is allowed. If you have not completed the course at the end of the six month registration period, and have not paid for an extension, your enrollment will be canceled.

If the student does not complete his/her course work or apply for an extension by the expiration date, the enrollment will be canceled and a W for withdrawn will be applied to the transcript.

Refunds/Course Withdrawal

You may withdraw from a self-paced course and receive a refund of tuition any time within 30 days from the registration date. A charge for each assignment submitted will be withheld from your refund as a service fee. There is no refund of the registration fee.

You may withdraw from a course at any time during your enrollment. To withdraw, submit the Extension Schedule Adjustment Form to the Western Online office. Withdrawal from a self-paced course does not affect late withdrawal privileges at Western.

Minimum/Maximum Time for Course Completion

Generally, the minimum time allowed to complete any self-paced course is seven weeks from the time the first lesson is received by the instructor. To go any faster would jeopardize learning the course material. Under no circumstances may you submit all, or even most, lessons at one time. For some courses, the syllabus may state the maximum rate of lesson submissions, or it may direct that certain lessons be prepared and submitted after a previous lesson has been graded and returned. Unless the syllabus states otherwise, if you exceed the guideline of lessons submitted, any lessons over the maximum will be returned to you ungraded, and you will be required to resubmit them. It is important to take time to reflect on and make use of instructor comments in subsequent lessons.

Although self-paced students have as long as six months to complete their course work, students who are graduating before the end of six months must finish their self-paced course by the end of the quarter of graduation. Also, students who use a self-paced course to qualify for financial aid MUST complete the course within the quarter that aid was received.

Final grades cannot be posted to a transcript before the end of the original enrollment quarter.

Workload Per Credit

Students are expected to put in 30 hours of work (reading, study, research, writing, etc.) for every credit. For example, a 3-credit course requires 90 hours of work from the student. Most self-paced faculty will assign additional reading to substitute for lectures, so you may have more "at-home" work than in an in-person class.


If you have a deadline to meet, organize your assignments to have all your work, final examinations included, submitted three weeks before you need your grade.

It takes time to process lessons and exams, grade them, respond to questions, and process the necessary paperwork to submit your final grade, especially during the summer months, holidays and quarter breaks. It is your responsibility to plan ahead.


The course fee does not include the cost of textbooks or supplemental materials. Obtaining books for self-paced courses is the student’s responsibility. Textbooks are not kept in stock at the Associated Students Bookstore.  You may order from any online bookstore. Plan on purchasing your textbooks early and always be sure you are purchasing the correct edition of the book for this course.

Lesson Submission

Instructions for lesson submission are included in the Canvas course syllabus for individual courses.


Examinations for self-paced courses that require a proctored exam can be administered in the Western Testing Center at no cost to the student. If it is not practical for the student to come to Bellingham, arrangements can be made to have examinations proctored in a testing center at a regionally accredited public or private college or by an U.S. Armed Forces Education official. The syllabus for the course contains information regarding exam requirements; some proctored exams may be taken in the Canvas course site with Honorlock. Exam Request Information is available in the course modules tab of the Canvas course site.

Grades, Pass/No-Pass

At the time you register for your course, you must designate whether you wish to receive a letter grade or a pass/no-pass grade.

If you have a specific deadline for completing your course and having the grade recorded on your transcript, please inform the Western Online office at the time you register.

Pass/no-pass grading is available at Western on an optional basis in elective courses only. None of the following courses may be taken on a pass/no-pass basis:

  • courses required for a major or minor
  • supporting courses
  • professional education requirements
  • writing proficiency requirement
  • General University Requirements.

Students may not change the grade mode if they have completed more than 40% of the course work in their self-paced course. To change the grading mode before reaching the level of 40% completed, students must notify the Western Online office of the desired change in writing.

"X" Grades

If the final grade in your self-paced course is not available by the end of the quarter in which your registration first appears, you will receive an "X" on your grade report. "X" means missing grade and is a space holder that does not calculate into credit load or GPA. When your final grade comes through our office, the "X" will be converted to a standard grade on your transcript.

Note for Matriculated, Main-Campus Western Students

Enrollment in only self-paced courses may qualify as continuing enrollment for Western students who take one quarter off during the academic year. Self-paced classes only count for continuing enrollment for the term they are applied to and do not maintain matriculated status without further registration.

If you receive financial aid and take a quarter off, please contact the Financial Aid office (360-650-3470) regarding your eligibility. Contact the Registrar’s Office (360-650-3432) if you have questions about your student status.

Newly admitted students taking only Western Online courses should contact Admissions at (360-650-3440) concerning continuing admission status.

Library Privileges

Students within driving distance of Bellingham may use Western’s Wilson Library. You have access to the same article databases and can have library books mailed to you through Western’s Library Services for Extended and Outreach Education.


We encourage you to contact our office at the start of the course with your questions and concerns. Keep in touch with us throughout your enrollment as questions arise.

Western Online
Western Washington University
516 High Street, MS - 9102
Bellingham, WA 98225-5996
Phone: (360) 650-3308

You may also visit us On-Campus in College Hall, room 133.