Top 10 Online Courses for College Credit 2024

Author: Bambi Majumdar | Reviewed By: Melissa Anderson, MS.Ed. | First covered: September 2021 | Reading level: Grade 9 | Updates: 2

Are you looking for cheap college credits? If you are, then you are among the many students who want to get ahead with college and earn an undergraduate degree sooner than later. There are a lot of courses for credit offered by universities, colleges, and community colleges. 

You will find an array of online college credit courses for high schoolers. Many students take these classes in the summer to earn college credit right before they start their undergrad program. Then there are accredited courses for professionals. These classes are designed for individuals who have decided to return to school and earn an advanced degree or simply complete their education. They are both convenient and quite affordable, making it easy for students to earn credits without commuting. 

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Students who are not looking to spend more than what they have set aside for their college education can find alternative solutions. They can opt for free online college courses for credit. These vary from remedial classes to advanced classes in various disciplines. Examples include languages, business, social studies and English credits, humanities, technology, business, and health science. 

In this article, we have listed the top 10 popular online college credit courses. Most accredited colleges and universities accept these courses for credit transfer. Students can complete these courses within 4-6 weeks or less. 

#10. Introduction to Psychology 

Psych 101 or Intro to Psychology is a popular choice for students looking to earn college credit. The online course provides them with fundamental knowledge of psychology and helps them become familiar with basic concepts like nature vs. nurture and the relation between biology and behavior. Students also study advanced subjects. Examples include psychological disorders, psychosexual development, ethical standards of psychotherapy, and how stress impacts personal health.

Quick Facts:

  • Average credits required: 3
  • Average course fee: $59
  • Format: Online 

#9. Mathematics

Mathematics is a popular choice for students to earn college credit because it can be completed in a short time and is very affordable. It is taken mainly by students looking to go into a STEM field in college, but students in other fields take it as well. Students develop mathematical and analytical skills for college courses as well as for future careers. Topics covered in this self-paced online college course include:

  • Algebra
  • Precalculus
  • Calculus
  • Statistics 

Quick Facts:

  • Average credits required: 3
  • Average course fee: $55
  • Format: Online

#8. Science

Science is an umbrella term that includes a wide range of college credit courses in anatomy, biology, physics, and nutrition. Fully online and affordable, the online course offers students a fast and easy way to earn college credit. Students in any STEM field can opt for this course, but that does not mean that students from other fields cannot. In fact, it’s a great trial run for students still deciding whether to choose STEM or some other field on their educational journey. 

Quick Facts:

  • Average credits required: 3
  • Average course fee: $59
  • Format: Online

#7. College Composition 

College Composition is a common course students take for transfer credit. It is often part of the general undergraduate course requirements across all majors. It introduces students to writing techniques and improves reading skills. Through self-paced study, they read various books and develop an understanding of language structures. In most cases, students must complete a writing project that includes research, multiple drafts, and edits to create an improved final product.

Quick Facts:

  • Average credits required: 3
  • Average course fee: $55
  • Format: Online 

#6. Communications 

In this online college course, students explore the basics of communication, including how to send and receive communication effectively. The course touches upon the importance of both verbal and nonverbal communication and how they can make a big difference in perception and understanding. It equips students with various tools to analyze and improve individual and group communications. Students can use this knowledge to deal with interpersonal and intercultural communication, interviews, conflict resolution, and negotiation throughout their educational journey and beyond. 

Quick Facts:

  • Average credits required: 3
  • Average course fee: $55
  • Format: Online  

#5. English

In this college credit course, students develop quality writing skills that will help them tackle all college assignments well and also prepare them for business communications. The lessons touch upon basics like:

  • Proper Grammar
  • Punctuation
  • Spelling
  • Fundamentals of Writing

The latter includes techniques of writing like argumentative, compare and contrast, narrative, persuasive, and descriptive. Students also learn about editing, effective research techniques, and revision.

Quick Facts:

  • Average credits required: 3
  • Average course fee: $55
  • Format: Online 

#4. Humanities

The humanities is a broad term that includes a wide range of college credit courses for students to take. These include online courses in:

  • Government
  • Philosophy
  • Communications
  • United States and World History
  • Religion
  • Western Civilization
  • Criminal Justice

Most students complete these affordable humanities classes at their own pace within 4-6 weeks. They develop the writing and critical thinking skills necessary for college education and careers in the future.

Quick Facts:

  • Average credits required: 3
  • Average course fee: $55
  • Format: Online

#3. Introduction to Philosophy

In this course, students learn about philosophy’s major themes and concepts. They are also introduced to major philosophers like Socrates, Locke, Descartes, Kant, Hume, Hegel, Mill, Nietzsche, and Marx. The course also touches upon Eastern and Western philosophies that have influenced each other. Topics include:

  • Metaphysics
  • Free Will and Determinism
  • Epistemology
  • Evil and The Existence of God
  • Ethical Values and Politics
  • Personal Identity
  • Modern Cognitivism 

Quick Facts:

  • Average credits required: 3
  • Average course fee: $55
  • Format: Online 

#2. Religions of the World

In this course, students learn about different religions and how they have impacted lives around the world. The introductory course is often counted as a history or humanities course. The main religions covered are:

  • Christianity
  • Buddhism
  • Islam
  • Judaism
  • Hinduism

Along with the different beliefs, the course also covers the study of rituals, practices, and myths.

Quick Facts:

  • Average credits required: 3
  • Average course fee: $55
  • Format: Online

#1. Social Science

Social science certification courses are great options for students interested in liberal arts, humanities, and social studies. The chief content areas for these college credit courses include:

  • U.S. History
  • World History
  • Geography
  • Economics
  • Western Civilization
  • Sociology
  • Government
  • Political Science

The courses help students earn credits, expand their knowledge of society, and build a strong foundation for general education.

Quick Facts:

  • Average credits required: 3
  • Average course fee: $55
  • Format: Online 

More About the Top 10 Online College Credit Courses

What are the benefits of taking courses for credit online?

Online college courses for credit are a popular option because they give students a head start on a degree while in high school and help them save a lot of money on tuition. Students who are looking to earn a degree at an accelerated rate can take more online courses for credit and significantly reduce college costs. They can transfer their accumulating credit into a degree program before enrolling and thus graduate with considerably less debt. Opting for cheap online classes means that students have an affordable and flexible option to pursue higher education. Some even offer textbooks and student support for free, which sets students up for success throughout the educational journey. 

There are many online college courses for secondary school students online. Taking an online course before enrolling in an undergrad program helps them build study skills and discipline for the future. Since most take an online course at some point during their academic journey, this is a good preparation indeed. Whether high schoolers or working adults, students can take courses online while enrolled in a college degree program. They can also enroll in multiple concurrent classes to save time and earn college credit quickly. This will help cover most of the prerequisites and general ed courses needed to graduate and accelerate the completion of one’s degree. Students can start college with advanced standing and advance directly to their majors by completing prerequisites. Some students have even completed their degree program a semester (or year!) ahead of schedule.

Students can take online courses at various levels. For example, they can take undergraduate courses toward a bachelor’s degree or graduate classes toward a master’s degree or doctoral programs. Every college or university has its own transfer policy that explains the credits they accept in detail. These include the minimum grade standards and the conditions for transfer. Most schools accept a “C” or better, though this criterion could differ between schools.

College student examining the cost of textbooks

What are the various courses for online college credits?

Deciding what online college classes to take is essential. As students explore accredited college courses for credit, they will find that there are numerous options spanning multiple academic fields. They can earn college credit in art, math, English, science, computer science, languages, business, and social studies. It’s a lot of information, so students must research well and find courses that align with their interests and career goals. Some of the things to keep in mind are affordability, flexibility, and accreditation. Looking at the online courses offered against these criteria may help in better decision-making. 

How many online courses for college credit can students take at a time?

Students can take multiple online college courses for credit if they have the capacity and can handle the workload. Most universities allow students to take anything from one to three online courses simultaneously. Students wishing to study online to gain their degree as they continue with their day jobs may take a single class before starting the next one. Ultimately, each student must determine how many classes they can take at a time without feeling overwhelmed and earning good grades. 

Are there free college classes for credit online?

Yes, there are many free online college classes for credit that are accepted in most leading colleges and universities. Students who pass these courses with satisfactory scores can quickly get credit for college-level courses that cost little or no money. There are also work-study programs that offer college credit in exchange for volunteering. Students can choose any of these options to advance their college education journey. 

Can online college credits for high school students be transferred to an on-campus program?

Online education has become the way of the world, and more schools now readily accept remote online college courses for credit, even for their on-campus programs. This is especially true of accredited for-credit courses since it assures the university or college of quality education. Another sure way to ensure that credits are transferred from one school to another is to transfer within the same college system. The same state transfer of credits between online and on-campus programs is also highly likely. While most schools use these credits to meet the general education requirements, some may also apply them to a specific major. This can be true of many STEM, tech, or business degrees. Students should consult with their enrollment advisors to learn more about online for-credit courses and which one would suit their needs best.

Is there a limit to the number of online college credits that can be transferred?

The number of credits that can be transferred depends on the school. Each school has a limit on how many individual courses and transfer credits they will accept and at which level. Their acceptance of accredited classes for credit may differ between undergraduate and graduate courses. Typically, a student may try to complete all general course requirements, but at times, they may meet some of the credit requirements for majors as well, especially if they have gone to junior college instead of just completing certifications. Some school systems have their own set of rules and transfer agreements between their sister schools that ensure that credits easily transfer.

Do junior college credits transfer to a 4-year college or university?

Credits from junior colleges often transfer without issue to any four-year college or university. This is especially true of accredited junior colleges. Typically transferring to a same-state four-year college is easier than transferring to a four-year college in a different state, but not impossible. If students have an idea of where they want to go, they can look up the prerequisites for the major. This way, they can plan ahead and take courses in junior college that they know will transfer. They should talk to their respective academic advisors to help them with the transition from a two-year to a four-year college.

Do college credits expire?

Credits technically don’t expire, but some are more likely to transfer than others, especially recent ones. However, since the rules vary from school to school, it is good to get some advice before enrolling. Older credits may be applied toward general credits but not the major. One reason for this could be the fact that colleges want their students to have updated knowledge in their fields. This is particularly true for rapidly evolving fields like computer science or IT. Core courses and general education courses for college credit are likely to remain valid for a good number of years. Accreditation is essential, so credits from accredited courses will likely remain valid for years. General education courses have the broadest applicability. 

Online student weighing his options for college tuition

Are there cheap classes for college credit online?

While there are many remote classes that qualify for the credit, not all offer the same value. Students need to do their research and see which courses suit them best. Choosing a course that is widely accepted by most colleges or offered for college credit is essential. There are many free online college classes for credit, but they may not be as widely accepted. It is best to look for accredited courses because they will provide the best value for money. 

A college education is expensive, and many students place great importance on affordability. While cost is an essential factor, it does not always determine the quality of education. Cheap courses for credit do not mean inferior education, nor do free online college classes for credit.

Why does accreditation matter?

Accreditation sets high standards for education. If a college is accredited, then the remote classes are much more likely to transfer to another school, especially if they are in the same region. 

Are online for-credit courses flexible? 

Flexibility is a significant criterion for all online programs, including remote courses designed for high school students and working adults. Online education is designed to be self-paced and more manageable regarding commute, scheduling, and flexibility of attending classes. Students looking to earn credits may choose to take multiple courses at the same time. Or they may be professionals who are working and studying at the same time. Flexible distance education classes will go a long way to ensure that they earn their credits while maintaining a life-work balance. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that most courses for credit have a time limit that requires students to complete assignments according to a set schedule. Some students may need to participate in group chats or attend video conference calls at set times though it is not mandatory. Most students can learn at their own pace and dictate their own course load.


Sources

  • Sophia
  • EDX
  • Study.com
  • Straighterline.com