Online Distance Learning: Policies
Online Distance Learning (ODL) courses that are self-paced have open enrollment, meaning that students may enroll anytime that LSU Continuing Education is open for business. A student’s enrollment date will be the date on which the student completes the enrollment process by paying all required course fees. The student’s expiration date will be set by the enrollment date; likewise, the bearing of all date-sensitive policies (refund, withdrawal, etc.) will be determined by the enrollment date. Most ODL courses are self-paced.
ODL offers a limited number of term-based courses (currently in Construction Management only). These courses are offered during specified seven-week terms in the LSU Online calendar. Each course section runs in the term indicated by the offering dates posted for that section. Once the course begins, students must follow the course schedule.
LSU System Students
Any student enrolled in a degree program at an LSU System university or Nicholls State University must have the signature of an authorized representative of the student’s dean’s office to enroll in ODL; therefore, all such students must download and submit the College Approval form. Those students are also subject to a College Deadline, a specific deadline imposed by the student’s college.
High School Students
A high school student who wishes to enroll in an ODL course must have the signature of the principal or counselor on the High School Approval form. All prerequisites and placement requirements apply.
In addition to conditions stated above, approval of the enrollment application is subject to the following conditions:
- Satisfaction of prerequisites, as stated in the Prerequisites and Placement policy.
- Enrollee has no pending referrals to LSU Student Advocacy and Accountability in connection with any course in the Distance Learning Programs.
- Any previous violation of the Academic Integrity policy or any violation of the LSU Code of Student Conduct did not result in an outcome prohibiting enrollment in ODL courses.
ODL will reject an enrollment for violation of any of the above. If a student is found to have violated this policy, the student will be dropped from the course and subject to the refund and withdrawal policies.
LSU is a member institution of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity (NC-SARA). SARA is an agreement among member states that establishes comparable national standards for interstate offering of postsecondary distance education courses and programs. LSU ODL courses are available to students in every U.S. state through this compact. LSU also abides by state regulations regarding out-of-state providers of distance learning courses and maintains specific information by state about the availability of courses.
Prerequisites and Placement
A prerequisite is the preliminary requirement, usually credit in another course, that must be met before a course can be taken. Students must meet the stated prerequisite or its equivalent before taking a course. A degree does not count as a blanket equivalent of specified prerequisites; only the specific course or its equivalent satisfies the requirement. It is assumed that students have a high-school diploma or equivalent prior to enrolling in any postsecondary courses (exception: students who are currently enrolled in high school may take beginning-level courses with the permission of their principal or academic counselor).
Concurrent enrollment in a course and any of its prerequisites is not permitted unless specifically allowed in the course description in the current LSU General Catalog. A student must pass a prerequisite satisfactorily before enrolling in a subsequent course.
- If a student is found to have enrolled in a course in which a prerequisite has not been met, the student may be dropped from the course at the discretion of the instructor and director. The standard refund and withdrawal policies will apply.
- In the case of concurrent enrollments, a final grade in a course may be withheld if a prerequisite is not passed satisfactorily.
Maximum Course Load
A student may enroll in multiple courses through Online Distance Learning. No maximum is set. ODL recommends that students carefully consider what is a realistic course load for themselves.
For college credit courses taken through Online Distance Learning (ODL), credit is earned upon successful completion of the course. Credit will be filed in the LSU Office of the University Registrar.
ODL courses may be used for degree credit and can be applied toward the number of credit hours needed to obtain a degree. Acceptance of credits earned through ODL is determined solely by the student’s institution and degree program. ODL makes no guarantee that credit will be accepted to meet a student’s specific degree requirements. Refunds cannot be granted for courses that do not satisfy the student’s degree, certification, or other credit needs. ODL does not offer an external degree program.
Credit toward a Degree from LSU
Each college on the LSU campus has specific regulations regarding distance-program courses. It is the student’s responsibility to learn about any restrictions prior to enrolling in an ODL course and to abide by any regulations that apply. LSU students are also bound by special requirements in the ODL policy on Enrollments.
Credit toward a Degree from Another University
To use ODL credit to fulfill degree requirements at another university, a student is expected to obtain approval from the appropriate authority at that institution to ensure that the courses selected will be accepted by that institution. A sample syllabus is provided on our registration site for students and their counselors to review. Upon successful completion of a course, the student is responsible to arrange for a transcript to be sent to the home university. Transcripts must be requested directly from the Office of the University Registrar.
Credit toward a Teaching Certificate
If working toward teacher certification, students are responsible to contact their own state’s department of education before enrolling to ensure that credit will be accepted. Teachers are advised to enroll in ODL courses before the end of the preceding semester or at the beginning of the last semester before certification is desired.
If a student chooses to audit a course, no credit is earned. If you audit a course and successfully complete the course, you may request a certificate. Successful completion is defined as earning a course grade of "C" or better. Requests to audit a course must be received by ODL before you submit your fourth module.
A student may enroll in a course for a second time; however, a student may take the same version of a course no more than twice. If a student chooses to repeat a course, the student must enroll and complete the entire course. No work done under a previous enrollment will count toward the re-enrollment. If a new version of the course has been released, the student must enroll in the new version.
Students who wish to re-enroll in the same version of a course must contact the Online Distance Learnign office. Re-enrollment requires a manual adjustment in the registration system; if not done through the office, the registration will not be complete.
- Students who wish to enroll in a course a second time should contact the ODL office.
- At the instructor’s discretion, the instructor may require the student to submit different or additional lesson assignments when enrolled in a course for the second time.
- Since students enrolled in a course a second time have received corrections and feedback during the first enrollment, the instructor may hold the student to higher standard of grading for repeated work submitted under a second enrollment.
- If a new version of a course is available at the time of application, the student must enroll in the new version and will not be permitted to repeat the old version.
- Students who fail a course twice may not retake the course without approval of an ODL manager or the Director. LSU students must have the approval of a counselor or dean of the student’s major college. Appeals to enroll in a course after having failed the course twice need to be initiated within sixty days of earning the second failing grade.
Consequences of Noncompliance
- Students enrolled in a course a second time who submit work identical to their submission in the first enrollment may receive a lower grade the second time.
- If an application is processed without the necessary appeals approval for a course the student has failed twice, the student may be required to transfer to a different course or will be given the standard refund; the student will also be charged a $10.00 fee for each module submitted or exam taken in the disallowed course.
No transfers of enrollment to another course are allowed. A student wishing to change to a different course may withdraw from a course and then enroll in the desired course. Withdrawal, refund, and enrollment policies apply.
Assignments & Exams
All exams for Online Distance Learning (ODL) courses must be proctored by a proctoring service as specified in your course. The proctoring service allows you to take your exam from anywhere using a computer with web cam, microphone, and a high-speed Internet connection. Students must be able to meet the service’s technical requirements. Students are responsible for all fees charged by the proctoring company for exam proctoring services.
Students should plan in advance to schedule and take their exams. All exams must be completed by the expiration date. Proctor unavailability is not considered grounds for additional time for an extension. No additional time will be granted to accommodate the proctor’s schedule or the student’s ability to schedule or attend an exam session.
Students who need testing accommodations should refer to the Disability Services policy lsited below.
The policy that follows applies to self-paced ODL courses only. It does not apply to courses that run on specified term (currently Construction Management courses only). Exam procedures for term-based course will be governed by the individual syllabus of the course itself.
All exams must be proctored, as indicated in the Exam Proctor Policy. All courses require a final exam.
Qualifying to Take an Exam
- An exam may not be taken until all of the modules covered in that exam have been completed.
- Exams must be taken in order (e.g., a mid-course exam must be taken before the final exam).
- The final exam cannot be taken during the first three weeks of enrollment.
- Once the testing session begins or the student views any portion of the exam, the exam will count and will be graded.
- The student and proctor must follow all instructions provided with the exam; violation of those instructions may result in penalties under the LSU Code of Student Conduct.
- The student is responsible to confirm that the exam received is the correct exam before beginning the exam.
- An exam must be completed in a single session. The student may not leave or interrupt the testing session. Once the time expires or the student leaves or ends the session, no further work can be done on the exam, and the testing session is concluded.
- An exam may be taken only once.
- No one (including the proctor) may copy or in any way retain or transmit any portion of the exam.
- Any problems or unexpected circumstances that arise during the testing session should be brought to the attention of the proctor and reported immediately by the proctor to LSU Continuing Education Learner Services, before the testing session concludes. No remedy will be available for any testing issue reported after the fact.
- Completed or in-progress exams that are lost, including those lost because of technical failures or power outages, will have to be retaken for a grade.
Special accommodations for testing must be made in advance and must be made in accordance with our Disability Services Policy listed below.
- Grades are determined according to the grading policy stated in the course syllabus. No exceptions or modifications to the stated grading policy are permitted.
- Graded exams are not returned to the student; however, students may review a graded exam under the proctor’s supervision. Instructions for requesting an exam review are provided in the course, in the applicable exam module. Requests for exam review must be received no later than thirty days after your course expiration. Contact LSU Continuing Education Learner Services to make arrangements to review a graded exam.
- Graded exams are kept on file for one year.
LSU grants the instructor of a course the right and responsibility to determine and assign the grade for each student in the course in accordance with University policy. Grades in individual courses will be determined by the grading policy published in the course syllabus. Deviations from that grading policy are not permitted.
An instructor may require incomplete, inadequate, or inappropriate work to be resubmitted. Once an instructor has posted a grade for a module, no work may be resubmitted for a higher grade. If you wish to take a course for pass/fail grading or as an audit, contact our office when you enroll. Pass/fail requests must be received in our office before you complete the fourth module.
The grading system used in Online Distance Learning (ODL) courses is the same as that used in campus courses. Beginning with Fall 2015, LSU’s grading scale evolved to encompass plus/minus grades.
Use of Plus/Minus Grading
Plus/Minus Grading is required by LSU for all undergraduate, graduate, and professional courses using the A through F letter grading system. The letter grades A, B, C, and D have the suffix plus (+) or minus (-) included to distinguish higher and lower performances within each of these letter grades. The letter grade F does not include the plus/minus distinction.
Grades Awarded Prior to the 2015 Fall Semester
Grades prior to the implementation date (Fall Semester 2015) remain as they are recorded using the regular A, B, C, D, F grading scale and their respective numerical value (quality points) at that time.
The definitions for letter grades when used in undergraduate courses are presented below.
- The letter grade A, including A+ and A-, denotes distinguished mastery of the course material.
- The letter grade B, including B+ and B-, denotes good mastery of the course material.
- The letter grade C, including C+ and C-, denotes acceptable mastery of the course material.
- The letter grade D, including D+ and D-, denotes minimally acceptable achievement.
- The letter grade F denotes failure.
For more information on grades, see the section “Grading Systems” in the current LSU General Catalog.
The policy that follows applies to self-paced ODL courses only. It does not apply to courses that run on specified term (currently Construction Management courses only). Assignment and module completion for term-based course will be governed by the individual syllabus of the course itself.
Online Distance Learning (ODL) allows students to work on course modules at their own pace; however, the following restrictions do apply:
- Modules must be completed in order.
- An exam may not be taken until all of the modules covered in that exam have been completed.
- The final exam may not be taken until the last course module has been completed and graded.
- No student may take a course’s final exam until the student has been enrolled in the course for at least three weeks, regardless of when the modules are complete
Assignments that are determined to be incomplete by your instructor will not be graded, but will require resubmission of the work. Such assignments must be resubmitted before you will be permitted to take an exam or receive a final course grade. A blank submission or non-related work is not accepted as an assignment submission. Students will be required to resubmit the assignment. A student may not request a zero in place of submitting a completed assignment.
ODL courses are not a shortcut to completing a college course or earning credit. Students are expected to spend a reasonable amount of time mastering the course material. Each course has the same scope of content as the regular University classroom course. The modules in ODL courses are not meant to be completed in a single study session. A single module is typically the equivalent of one week in a course on campus; the same amount of time and effort should apply to the ODL course. The best learning experience comes from a steady, thoughtful pace in working through the course. A steady, unrushed pace will also provide the instructor with better opportunities to respond to a student’s work.
Online Distance Learning (ODL) courses depend on the use of technology, including student access to an adequate computer, use of the Internet, hardware employed by ODL for maintaining administrative and course data, and appropriate software used by ODL and its students. Students must take into consideration their hardware and software needs before they enroll an ODL course. Students must also take into consideration hardware and software performance when setting and meeting deadlines.
Minimum Hardware and Software Requirements
Students are responsible to confirm their ability to meet the minimum hardware and software requirements, including adequate Internet connectivity, before enrolling in a course. These requirements include both the ability to interact with the course management system used by ODL and satisfying the requirements of ProctorU to take examinations. No refunds or other policy exceptions will be granted for hardware and software inadequacy, problems, or failures.
No refunds or other policy exceptions will be granted for time or course work lost because of equipment or other failures. Students are responsible to maintain backups of their course work in case of computer failure. Students must complete and submit all work in accordance with the course syllabus.
Help with Technology
ODL information technology (IT) staff can assist students with technical difficulties that originate with our own systems. IT staff cannot assist students with problems or failures in the student’s own hardware or software. Neither can IT staff assist with installation of software. ODL staff may be able to provide clarification on technology-related procedures such as login instructions; however, our staff cannot provide extensive assistance or tutoring in using the technology to access or submit work in your course.
Students enroll in ODL with the understanding that service outages may occur as the result of regular and emergency maintenance on the servers or other technology that underlies our sites. Brief service outages may occur from equipment failures, Internet service failures, and similar unexpected events. Students are responsible to work reasonably in advance of their deadlines to avoid inconveniences caused by routine and brief unpredictable service outages. ODL will announce planned maintenance outages on its website. Extensions, refunds, and other exceptions to ODL policies will not be granted for service outages that occur for maintenance or for brief (shorter than twenty-four hours) unexpected outages. Appeals for exceptions based on longer unplanned outages will be decided on a case-by-case basis.
Expiration of Course
The policy that follows applies to self-paced ODL courses only. It does not apply to courses that run on specified term (currently Construction Management courses only). Course expiration and other deadlines for term-based courses will be determined by the LSU Online academic calendar for the term in which the course runs and the individual course syllabus. These courses must be completed by the last day of the term.
Students have six months from the date of enrollment to complete a course. Students must complete all work in a course before the expiration date. If a student does not complete the course requirements by the end of the six-month enrollment period, the enrollment will expire, and the student will be dropped from the course. Completing the course requirements includes taking the final exam; therefore, the student must take the final exam before the course expiration. No additional time will be allowed to take the final exam, even if all other course work has been completed.
Expiration of the course results in the student being dropped from the course and a “W” posted to the student’s record. The student is responsible for knowing and meeting his or her expiration date.
- Students who qualify for a regular extension under the extension policy may extend their enrollment but must request the extension before the expiration date.
- Students who have not used their extension will need to apply for an extension if they cannot take the final exam before their expiration date.
- Once the course expired, a “W” will be posted to the student’s record; a “W” cannot be removed, so any opportunity to request an extension will be forfeit
An extension of enrollment is available for self-paced courses only. The extension extends the enrollment period two months. Only one extension is available per course enrollment. Requests for an extension must be received in our office prior to the expiration date to avoid being dropped from the course and receiving a “W” in the course.
Refunds are available under the following conditions and rates:
- A refund of full tuition and fees, minus the non-refundable application fee, if the request is received in our office within seven calendar days of enrollment and no submissions have been made in the course.
- A refund of 80% tuition and fees, minus the non-refundable application fee, if the request is received in our office within one month of enrollment. Students are eligible for this refund regardless of whether course submissions have been made.
- No refund is available if a student has taken any exam.
- No refunds will be granted after one month.
Refunds are available under the following conditions and rates:
- A 90% refund of tuition and fees, minus the non-refundable application fee, if the request is received in our office in the first two days of the term.
- An 50% refund of tuition and fees, minus the non-refundable application fee, if the request is received in our office in the first five days of the term.
- No refund is available after the first five days of the term.
Student must make a written request for a refund to email@example.com.
A student may drop a course at any time. Record of a dropped or expired course is determined by the following:
- If a student drops a course within the first month of the enrollment date, no record will be made of the drop.
- For any course dropped after one month of enrollment, a “W” will be posted to the student’s record.
- Any course not completed by the expiration date must be considered a drop and will receive a “W.”
- Requests for an extension must be received in our office prior to the expiration date to avoid receiving a “W.”
- Once a “W” is assigned, a request for extension will not be accepted or granted.
- Once assigned, a “W” cannot be removed from the student’s record.
- The policy will apply to all students, regardless of their enrollment status with the University.
- If a student drops a course within the first three days of the term, no record will be made of the drop.
- For any course dropped after the first three days of the term, a “W” will be posted to the student’s record.
- Students may not withdrawal after the final date for dropping courses indicated on the LSU Online academic calendar. That date is normally five weeks into the term.
- Students who remain in a course after the final date for dropping courses will receive a grade in the course at the end of the term.
- Student must make a written request to firstname.lastname@example.org to drop a course.
- Once a written request to drop a course is received, a "W" will be posted to the student's record, if applicable.
- When a course expires without completion, a “W” will post to the student’s record the following day.
Academic Rights & Responsibilities
Online Distance Learning (ODL) respects the privacy of our students and implements safeguards to protect sensitive personal information and academic records. Under the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA), LSU has an obligation to protect student records. Additionally, other laws and regulations require that the University protect sensitive personal information and financial records. ODL and LSU Continuing Education does not sell, rent, or trade your personal information. We use personally identifiable information only for class registration processing or to send you updated information if you request it.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of the student’s educational records and affords students certain rights with respect to those records. To comply with FERPA, ODL follows Louisiana State University's policy statement on the Privacy Rights of Students (PS-30). Most information about a student may not be released to a third party without the student's written permission. Exceptions under the law include state and federal educational and financial institutions and law enforcement officials. The policy also permits students to review their educational records and to challenge the contents of those records. Some student information (e.g., name, address, e-mail address, telephone number, dates of enrollment, enrollment status, college) is considered public, or directory, information. Students may prevent the release of public information during their enrollment by contacting ODL in writing.
For full details on the University’s implementation of FERPA requirements, please see LSU’s full policy statement (PS-30).
To provide written permission for ODL to release or discuss your academic record with another party, please use the LSU Continuing Education Academic Release Form.
Online Distance Learning (ODL) will make appropriate, reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. ODL does not make determinations on accommodations. Specific accommodations must be determined by LSU Disability Services.
To receive accommodations, you must contact LSU Disability Services for assistance. Contact information for LSU Disability Services:
- E-mail: email@example.com
- Online: www.lsu.edu/disability
- Telephone: 225-578-5919
- Fax: 225-578-4560
Students must request accommodations at least three weeks before they are needed, so that necessary documentation may be obtained and accommodations facilitated. If you are an LSU Student with a disability and need assistance to obtain or arrange reasonable accommodations, contact LSU Disability Services each time you register for an ODL course. If a student chooses to take an exam without the approved accommodation, the exam will be graded and no exam retakes will be allowed. Accommodations cannot be provided after the exam has been taken.
Students in Online Distance Learning (ODL) courses must comply with the LSU Code of Student Conduct. Suspected violations of the academic integrity policy may be referred to LSU Student Advocacy & Accountability (SAA), a unit of the Dean of Students. If found responsible of a violation, you will then be subject to whatever penalty SAA determines and will forfeit all course tuition and fees. ODL reserves the right to deny enrollment to any applicant or to discontinue the enrollment of any student who is in violation of the ODL academic integrity policy.
Students are responsible for completing and submitting their own course work and preparing their own modules. All work submitted in the course modules must be the student's own work unless outside work is appropriate to the assignment; all outside material must be properly acknowledged. It is also unacceptable to copy directly from your textbook or to use published answer keys or the teacher's edition of a textbook.
Unauthorized collaboration constitutes plagiarism. Collaborative efforts that extend beyond the limits approved by the instructor are violations of the academic integrity policy. Students who study together are expected to prepare and write their own individual work for submission and grading.
LSU has very strict regulations regarding the administration of exams that must be carefully followed by proctors and students. Examinations must represent the enrolled student’s own work and must be completed under the supervision of the proctor without the assistance of books, notes, devices, or other help, unless specified otherwise in the exam directions or as part of accommodations approved by Disability Services.
The student must pay for any cost involved in having an exam supervised.
If ODL has any question or concern about the administration of an exam, LSU reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to require a student to retake an examination. If asked to retake an exam, you will be notified within thirty days of the original examination. Grades will be awarded on the basis of the second exam only.
LSU policy provides that all students have the right to make appeals without fear of coercion, harassment, intimidation, or reprisal from the University or its employees; however, it should be understood that capricious charges made by a student against a University employee may make that student liable to charges under the Code of Student Conduct or action through the courts.
If you have legitimate grounds for appeal, you must make your appeal in writing.
Grade appeals should be made only for reasons related to the quality of the work and its assessment. It is unethical and unfair to ask for a grade change for any reason not related to quality of the work. Grades cannot be changed for reasons such as to maintain a certain level of academic standing, to qualify for graduation, to receive or maintain a scholarship, or to be eligible to participate in an organization or activity.
This grade appeal procedure is an academic process designed to provide students with the ability to appeal a final grade only. Interim grades and grades on particular exams, papers, projects, and other assignments may only be appealed to and discussed with the faculty member who assigned the grade.
Deadline for grade appeals
A grade appeal must be made within three months of the date the grade is issued.
Grade appeals must be made in writing. Online Distance Learning (ODL) students should use the grade appeals form. Students must submit the appeal directly to the ODL office, not to the instructor.
Re-evaluation of graded work
If a grade appeal leads to re-evaluation of graded work, grades may be lowered or raised as a result.
A general appeal is a process for appeals other than grade appeals. This process is for students to appeal the application of any regulation, rule, policy, requirement, or procedure as it applies to the individual student.
Deadline for general appeals
A general appeal must be made no later than thirty calendar days after the occurrence of the action that resulted in the appeal.
Appeals must be made in writing. ODL students should use the general appeals form available on the ODL website. Students must submit the appeal directly to the ODL office, not to the instructor.
Online Distance Learning (ODL) will not process in-school deferments. ODL will provide the student with an enrollment verification letter, but can offer no further assistance with the deferment process. LSU has no mechanism for determining when an ODL student will earn college credit for an ODL course and, therefore, no criteria for determining half-time status. LSU has no institutional definition of half-time or full-time study by independent and distance learning.
Consumer Protection and Complaint Process
Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act includes regulations regarding the delivery of distance education to out-of-state residents. The United States Department of Education (USDOE) requires that institutions comply with any applicable state approval or licensure requirements in each state to which distance education instruction is delivered. Institutions must provide current and prospective students with contact information for filing complaints with its accrediting body and the appropriate state agency for handling complaints in a student’s state.
Louisiana State University and A&M College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate, masters, and doctorate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097, or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Louisiana State University and A&M College.
LSU Continuing Education is a member of the University Professional & Continuing Education Association, the Association for Continuing Higher Education, the Association for Distance Education & Independent Learning, the Sloan Consortium for Quality Online Education, the Eduventures Online Higher Education Collaborative, the Education Advisory Board Continuing & Online Education Forum, and the Electronic Campus of the Southern Regional Education Board.
You may file a complaint with LSU's regional accrediting agency, SACSCOC. Information regarding its complaint process can be found on the SACSCOC website in the FAQs or under Policies and Publications.
If you have a complaint about LSU's distance education programs, please contact the appropriate authority in your state. Please review the list of Consumer Complaint Contact Information for each state.
The ODL website represents a flexible program of the current educational plans, offerings, and requirements that may be altered from time to time to carry out the purposes and objectives of the University. The provisions published here do not constitute an offer for a contract that may be accepted by students through registration and enrollment in the University. The University reserves the right to change any provision, offering, or requirement at any time within the student’s period of study at the University. The University further reserves the right to require a student to withdraw from the University for cause at any time. Fees listed on this site are subject to change at any time.