Online Learning at University of the People

What Is Online Learning?

Online learning, sometimes called “distance learning,” refers to educational programs conducted online. Online learning has become an increasingly popular choice over the years because of the flexibility it allows in terms of scheduling and location. Online students can study from any location with an internet connection, and sometimes even attend their classes on their own schedules. 


Students of online programs are able to conduct their coursework online, including reading texts, seeking support, interacting with peers and instructors, etc. Online college and university programs make use of reading assignments, discussion groups, collaborative peer work, videos and other resources.


The Online Learning Experience at University of the People

At University of the People we offer accredited, online degree programs in business administration, computer science and health science, as well as an MBA program. Our unique programs are designed so that our students can study on their own schedules, wherever they are in the world. All you need is an internet connection – and any internet connection will do.


Learning Materials and Textbooks


All learning materials and textbooks at University of the People are Open Education Resources (OER). An OER is a free collection of teaching and learning materials as well as academic and research texts. Our courses are built on reading assignments and other materials carefully selected by our instructors and course developers. These revolutionary free resources are an opportunity for students to gain access to a wealth of wisdom which will support and enhance their studies at University of the People.


A 100% Online Education


We use Moodle, an online Learning Management System (LMS) to deliver our courses entirely online. While it’s not necessary to be physically present in a classroom, students at University of the People are part of a strong and lively online academic environment. Courses are led by qualified instructors who guide and support students throughout each course. Students also engage with one another through online discussion forums and peer to peer reviews in small classes with personal attention.


Courses are built from reading assignments and discussion forums. Videos materials are also available to students, but only as extra learning material. It is not mandatory to watch videos. Our virtual labs and online internship options ensure that students at University of the People can conduct their entire academic experience online, wherever they are located.


Working Together at University of the People


Online student forums and peer review groups are one of the most valuable aspects of the experience at University of the People. Through our online community, students will make connections from all around the world. This is a resource for sharing information, wisdom and support as well as for building a vibrant, international network.


Students at University of the People participate in a system of peer assessments. Through grading and reviewing classmates’ work, students will sharpen their critical skills and learn from classmates’ assessments as well. The final grade is based on a combination of peer graded work, instructor graded work, graded quizzes and a final exam.


Working With Qualified Advisors, Mentors and Instructors


All students are assigned a program advisor at the beginning of their course of study with University of the People. Advisors are there to help students succeed in their degree programs. Ready to answer questions, offer support and give advice, our program advisors are a key part of our educational system.


Students may also have a chance to work remotely with a mentor. Our mentors are members of our global UoPeople community and industry leading professionals. Mentors are there to help our students articulate and achieve their professional and academic goals.


In addition to this, students will receive one-on-one feedback and guidance from their instructors. For each course, students will have an online learning journal. This is only seen and graded by instructors and ensures that students have regular, personal access to their instructors and that instructors have insight into each student’s grasp of the material and progression in the course.


Working Independently 


Students at University of the People have the freedom to study according to their own schedules.  Our classrooms are wherever our students are, granted there is an internet connection.  Students will be provided with self-quizzes to help understand course material and prepare for tests.  Every course will assign a weekly reading assignment and discussion assignment (to be completed in the group forum).  Some weeks students will have a written assignment/activity or a programming assignment (based on the course of study). Students are communicating with their instructors through the learning journal and via email, messaging. 


How Are Courses Structured at University of the People?

Each course is 9 weeks long and built from 8 units of study (1 per week). At the undergraduate degree programs, in the 9th week, students will take a test on the material covered in the course. Students should expect to dedicate about 15 to 20 hours per week to each course


Weekly Class Structure (Undergraduate School)


Each term has eight weekly learning units. The Learning Week starts at midnight between Wednesday and Thursday (and ends on the following Wednesday. The weekly study units will be made available one week at a time at the start of the new learning week.


All work for a particular unit must be completed within that Learning Week. Beyond that however, students can decide when to complete their work and there is no specific time that the student must be logged on to study. There are a series of tasks that students are required to complete each week. These may include:

  • Learning Journals
  • Discussion Forums
  • Assignments
  • Self-Quizzes
  • Graded Quizzes

Students are expected to evaluate the work (using the Peer Assessment guidelines) of three of their peers in the Discussion Forum as well as three peer assignments. Both Peer Assessments require that students offer constructive feedback on their work.


Learning guide and Writing/Programming assignment 

At the beginning of each week students will gain access to the new unit’s learning material and to the writing/programming assignment. As part of the course requirements, students are required to complete an assignment for most units of learning. Assignments generally use a Moodle feature called “Workshop”. This tool allows for peer assessment, which is integral to the University of the People learning model. The following week after the assignment is due, students are expected to assess the assignments submitted by their peers. There will usually be three assignments to assess. These assessments are part of the assignment grade.



Learning Journal

Instructors may choose to assign specific topics and/or relevant questions as a weekly Learning Journal entry, but students are encouraged to use this journal to document activities, record questions/problems they may have encountered, reflect on the learning process, and draft answers for other course assignments. The Learning Journal must be updated on a weekly basis, because its entries will be assessed by instructors directly as a part of a student’s final grade. The Learning Journal will only be seen by the instructor.



Courses will contain three types of quizzes – Self-Quizzes, Graded Quizzes, and the Review Quiz. These quizzes may contain multiple choice, true/false, or short answer questions. The results of the Self-Quiz will not count towards the final grade. However, it is highly recommended that students complete the Self-Quiz to ensure that they have adequately understood the course materials. Along with the Reading Assignments, the results of the Self-Quiz should be used as part of an iterative learning process, to thoroughly cover and test understanding of course material.


Students should use the results of their Self-Quiz as a guide to go back and review relevant sections of the Reading Assignments. Likewise, the Review Quiz will not count towards the final grade, but should also be used to assist in a comprehensive review and full understanding of all course material, in preparation for the Final Exam. Lastly, the results of the Graded Quizzes will count towards the final grade. Specific instructions on the format and content of the Graded Quizzes will be provided by each instructor.


Final Exam

The Final Exam will take place during the Thursday and Sunday of Week/Unit 9, following the completion of eight units of work. The format of the Final Exam is similar to that of the quizzes, and may contain a combination of different question types. Students will have one attempt to take the exam, and it will be graded electronically. Specific instructions on how to prepare for and take the Final Exam will be provided during Week 8 (located inside the Unit 9 Learning Guide). Final Exams must be taken without the use of course learning materials (both those inside and outside the course). If particular materials are allowed for use during the exam, these will be noted in the exam’s instructions.


Graduate degree students have similar tasks to complete including a discussion assignment, group work and a portfolio activity, and in general these courses do not have graded quizzes or a final exam.



University of the People offers a number of great online resources to support students with their studies:


Course Forum

The Course Forum is the place to raise issues and questions relating to the course. It is regularly monitored by the instructors, and is a good place to meet fellow students taking the same course. While it is not required to participate in the Course Forum, it is highly recommended.


Writing Center

Within Moodle, students will have access to the UoPeople Writing Center. Staffed with qualified writing instructors, the Writing Center is there to help students sharpen and develop their writing skills.  Participation with the Writing Center is not required, but is highly recommended. Our Online Peer Assessment Office was established to help students as they review and grade the work of their peers.  This resource is not mandatory but is highly recommended and will give students the necessary tools to evaluate, assess and learn from peer work.




Students at University of the People must fulfil certain requirements in order to successfully pass each course as well as to obtain their degree:

  • Students must earn a minimum amount of credits. This amount varies per program but is around 120 credits for a Bachelor Degree, 60 credits for an Associate Degree, and 36 credits for a Master’s Degree.
  • Students must earn a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.00 in all coursework completed at UoPeople.
  • Students must complete all degree coursework in no more than 25 terms of active enrollment excluding any periods of separation from the University.
  • Students must complete all required proctored exams.

You can see the full program requirements in the university catalog.



As students progress towards graduation, they can make use of our “Degree Audit Tool.” This tool can be run in the University of the People student portal and will tell students which requirements they have fulfilled and which requirements they have yet to fulfill.  For example, the “Degree Audit Tool” will say “You have taken 3 out of 4 Elective Courses – you need to take one more elective course to graduate.” Students can also map out their degree path by using our “Progress Towards Degree Check List” to make sure that they are on the right path towards completing all program requirements.


When students have successfully completed all required courses, they can apply for graduation through the student portal.  The Student Services department will check to make sure that all requirements have been fulfilled. If they have been, a signed diploma will be mailed to the student’s address. After graduation, students are eligible to be part of our alumni group. This is a great resource for networking and finding employment. Students will also have continued access after graduation to our Career Service Center.