Best Self-Paced Online College Courses Of 2024

Self-Paced Online College Courses

If you want to set your schedule for college studies, self-paced online college courses are the ideal solution. This learning style will enable you to learn the material faster and complete the course quickly.

Self-paced online college courses designed to earn academic credit provide students with a flexible and convenient means of achieving their educational goals. These courses empower learners to navigate the curriculum at their own pace, meeting diverse schedules and learning preferences. 

Self-paced learning is attractive to motivated learners and those with background knowledge. These courses are completed more quickly by motivated students.

Here are some self-paced online college courses that provide an accessible path to academic achievement while promoting a healthy work-life balance.

List of the Top 8 Cheap Self-Paced Online College Courses for Credit

1. Introduction to Biology (Penn Foster College)

Introduction to Biology (Penn Foster College)
Introduction to Biology (Penn Foster College)

This introductory Biology course from Penn Foster College entitles you to three college credits. Other colleges may accept those credits. The program of this cheap self-paced online college course for credit covers a wide spectrum of core biological principles, including cellular biology, genetics, evolution, ecology, and human biology. 

Students can actively participate in a variety of learning activities, such as reading assignments, quizzes, laboratory experiments, etc. This will promote their deeper understanding of biological concepts. The curriculum of this cheap self-paced online college course for credit is thoughtfully designed to provide flexibility, enabling students to learn at their own pace, and accommodating different schedules. 

2. Maths 114: Trigonometry (University of ILLINOIS)

Maths 114: Trigonometry (University of ILLINOIS)
Maths 114: Trigonometry (University of ILLINOIS)

University of Illinois offers this advanced course which carries two credits. These credits will often transfer. Angles and dimensions of triangles are the main topics covered in Trigonometry. This cheap self-paced online college course for credit typically covers fundamental concepts such as angles, trigonometric functions (sine, cosine, tangent), trigonometric identities, as well as methods of solving triangles.  

You can learn how to apply Trigonometry to solve real-world problems in this cheap self-paced online college course for credit. Courses may include both theoretical and practical components, including assignments, quizzes, and exams to evaluate students’ understanding of the subject matter. 

3. Introduction to the Arts (Macomb Community College)

Introduction to the Arts (Macomb Community College)
Introduction to the Arts (Macomb Community College)

Macomb Community College offers this three-credit course that provides students with a broad exploration of a variety of artistic disciplines. This cheap self-paced online college course for credit highlights the fields of visual arts, music, theater, and dance, giving students a foundational understanding of the creative principles and historical and cultural contexts that have influenced these art forms.  

Through practical engagement, creative projects, and study of important artists, and the development of the arts, students gain practical experience and knowledge. Introduction to Art at Macomb Community College is an ideal starting point for individuals who want a full appreciation of the arts and serves as a strong foundation for potential further study in this field. 

4. An Introduction to Philosophy (Suny Empire State College)

An Introduction to Philosophy (Suny Empire State College)
An Introduction to Philosophy (Suny Empire State College)

This course offered by Suny Empire State College covers topics, such as metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and the history of philosophy. The four-credit course allows students to engage in reading, discussion, and assignments that help them delve deeper into fundamental philosophical questions and hone their analytical and reasoning skills.

This cheap self-paced online college course for credit aims to develop a deep understanding of different philosophical traditions and notable philosophers, promoting critical thinking about complex issues. This is indeed a valuable resource for those interested in philosophy.

5. General Chemistry (Oregon State University)

Oregon State University offers a General Chemistry online course that awards five quarters of college credit while ensuring a reputable and recognized learning experience. This cheap self-paced online college course for credit highlights the fundamentals of Chemistry, covering key topics, such as atomic structure, chemical bonding, stoichiometry, and thermodynamics.  

Designed to accommodate a wide range of students, the General Chemistry course is suitable for those studying science-related majors or completing general education requirements. The online format allows flexibility, helping students manage their studies alongside other commitments. Typically, the course consists of video lectures, interactive assignments, virtual lab exercises, and assessments to ensure a well-rounded grip on the subject. 

6. Macroeconomics (Central Wyoming College)

Macroeconomics (Central Wyoming College)
Macroeconomics (Central Wyoming College)

Central Wyoming College offers this three-credit online course. Macroeconomics online course highlights essential macroeconomic concepts covering topics, such as gross domestic product (GDP), inflation, fiscal policy, monetary policy, and international trade. Typically in a standard semester, the program includes assignments, quizzes, and exams to evaluate your understanding.  

Course content and assignment submission are facilitated through a user-friendly learning management system. To enroll in this cheap self-paced online college course for credit, students can either apply to Central Wyoming College as new students or register for courses if they are already enrolled.

7. College Algebra and Problem Solving (Arizona State University)

Arizona State University
College Algebra and Problem Solving (Arizona State University)

Arizona State University (ASU) offers an affordable, self-paced online college course, eligible for three credits, emphasizing fundamental algebra concepts. This course is ideal for college credit and serves as a solid foundation for future mathematics courses. In this online program, you will delve into rational functions, linear equations, and problem-solving strategies. 

The cheap self-paced online college course for credit is adaptive, allowing you to focus on mastering each concept before moving on to the next one. Additionally, personalized coaching is available when you engage in a virtual class.

8. Physical Geology (University of Phoenix)

Physical Geology (University of Phoenix)
Physical Geology (University of Phoenix)

The University of Phoenix offers an online course in Physical Geology designed to earn college credit. As part of their Earth Science or Geology curriculum, this three-credit course highlights the study of the Earth’s physical processes and natural features. This cheap self-paced online college course for credit covers a wide range of topics, including plate tectonics, mineral identification, rock formation, geological time, and geomorphic analysis.  

Through this course, you can have a virtual learning experience with online lectures, interactive assignments, and discussion forums hosted on the digital platforms of the University. Assessment methods may include quizzes, examinations, and potentially virtual fieldwork or lab simulations. 

Can I Do College at My Own Pace?

You have the flexibility to complete college at a pace that suits your needs. Many universities and colleges offer part-time, online, and flexible scheduling options.

Some institutions allow breaks or extended degree completion time. It is worth exploring these options with your selected institution to tailor your college experience to your preferences.

How Do Self-paced Online College Courses for Credit Work? 

Cheap self-paced online college courses for credit offer students a flexible and self-directed approach to earning college credit. Here’s how they typically work:

  • Enrollment: To get started, students sign up for these courses through a college or university’s online platform or a specialized online education provider. Entry requirements and registration procedures may vary.
  • Course Content: Once enrolled, students gain access to course content, which may include lectures, readings, assignments, and assessments. All of these are delivered through a digital learning management system (LMS).
  • Flexible Schedule: The defining feature of these courses is the freedom to work at your own pace within a set time frame. Although you are given a specific period of time to complete the course, you have the flexibility to choose when and how you will study.
  • Assignments and Assessments: Students are responsible for completing assignments, quizzes, exams, and other required assessments as outlined in the course syllabus. These are usually submitted online.
  • Interaction: Some self-paced courses may provide opportunities for interaction with instructors, peers, or teaching assistants through discussion boards, email, or virtual office hours.
  • Progress Tracking: A major benefit is the ability to monitor your progress through the LMS, allowing you to keep track of completed assignments and assessments.
  • Deadline: It is important to keep in mind the deadlines of the course. Despite the self-paced nature, there are often deadlines for completion, and details may be limited.
  • Cost: Consider the costs associated with the course, which may vary depending on the institution or provider.

Difference Between Self-paced and Instructor Led?

Self-paced and instructor-led learning are different approaches. These are outlined below: 

Self Paced

  • Self-paced learning empowers individuals to progress through the material at their own pace, without a rigid schedule.
  • Learners have the freedom to choose when and where they engage with the content, making it convenient for those with busy schedules. 
  • It is usually delivered through online courses, tutorials, or resources available around the clock.  
  • There is often a lack of direct contact with the instructor, leaving the onus on learners to motivate themselves and maintain their progress.


  • Instructor-led learning involves a teacher or instructor leading students through a well-structured curriculum.
  • Learning usually takes place in a classroom, workshop, or virtual environment with a set timetable and duration.  
  • Instructors provide guidance, address questions, and provide immediate feedback while encouraging active participation. 
  • Best suited for subjects that require practical practice, real-time feedback, or group discussions.

The choice between self-paced and instructor-led learning depends on personal preferences, subject matter, and specific learning objectives. Self-paced provides flexibility, while instructor-led provides a more organized and interactive educational experience.

What Types of Subjects and Degree Programs are Available Through Cheap Online Self-paced College Courses for Credit?

There are many cheap self-paced online college courses for credit available that cover a variety of subjects and degree programs. They include:

  • General Education: Many institutions offer self-paced courses in subjects, such as English, Mathematics, History, and Science, meeting general education requirements.
  • Business: You can find courses in business administration, marketing, finance, and management.
  • Computer Science and IT: Programs include coding, web development, and information technology, which are in high demand.
  • Health Sciences: Courses involving nursing, health care administration, and medical billing are often readily available.
  • Psychology: Some institutes offer self-paced courses in Psychology and related subjects.
  • Liberal Arts: Subjects, such as Philosophy, Sociology, and Literature can be pursued through self-paced courses.
  • Engineering: A selection of Engineering courses are available on some online platforms.
  • Criminal Justice: Self-paced courses in criminal justice and related areas are accessible.
  • Education: Education programs designed for teachers or those interested in working in education are offered.
  • Environmental Sciences: Courses in the fields of environmental studies and sustainability are also available.

Please note that the availability of self-paced courses may fluctuate, and affordability may depend on the institution or platform chosen. So, in-depth research and comparison are necessary to identify the best fit for your needs and budget.


1. What are self-paced online college courses?

Self-paced online college courses refer to courses offered by accredited institutions that allow students to study at their own pace rather than following a traditional semester schedule. Students can complete their coursework, assignments, and exams within the flexible time frame set by the course or program.

2. Can I earn college credit through self-paced online courses?

Yes, many self-paced online courses are credit-bearing. By completing courses and exams, you can earn college credit, similar to traditional on-campus classes. It is essential to ensure that the institution offering the course is recognized.

3. Can I earn college credit for free?

Although it is unusual to get college credit completely for free, there are ways to significantly reduce the cost. Options include taking Advanced Placement (AP) exams, excelling on College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests, participating in dual enrollment programs with high schools and community colleges, and scholarships to cover tuition expenses. These methods enable you to earn college credits while reducing the financial burden.

4. Is it possible to transfer credits earned from an online college to an on-campus program?

It is generally possible to transfer online college credits to an on-campus program, depending on the policies of the on-campus institution. Many schools accept online credits if they fit with program requirements. To ensure a smooth transfer, it is advisable to verify accreditation and consult the on-campus institution for specific guidelines.


Self-paced online college courses provide the flexibility and convenience required for learners to reconcile their studies with their existing commitments. Furthermore, their affordability expands the reach of higher education, making it more inclusive. As technology advances and educational institutions adopt online learning, self-paced courses are set to shape the future of education. 

Whether you’re a working professional looking to enhance your skills or a student looking for cost-effective ways to earn college credit, these cheap self-paced online courses are a promising addition to your academic and career aspirations.

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