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Online Learning

Online Learning at the School of Nursing features fully and partially online, for-credit courses designed to facilitate substantive faculty and student interaction and collaboration. Through multimedia learning technology, asynchronous and synchronous lectures, and real-time discussion, students become actively engaged with course topics and objectives. In addition, self-guided, non-credit courses provide continuing education opportunities for nursing professionals.


Adult Oncology Specialty Certificate

Doctor of Nursing Practice in Executive Leadership (DNP-EL)

Post-Masters Doctor of Nursing Practice (PMDNP)

Streamlined Adult Gerontology Acute Care Certificate

Other Online Learning Opportunities

NURS 6370 Introduction to Research Methods and Design

Nursing Continuing Education and Non-Credit Opportunities

Interested in Penn Nursing Online courses?

ApplicantsContact Admissions to learn more about our for-credit programs.

Current students: Learn more about the course registration process, contact our advising staff for registration assistance, or contact the ITS Service Desk for technical assistance.

Faculty: Contact the Instructional Design and Learning Technology (IDLT) team for assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions


How are online courses different from other courses I have attended?

The following breakdown illustrates the differences among online, hybrid (partially online), and traditional courses you may have attended previously.

Online Courses
  • 100% of the course is conducted fully online.
  • A Learning Management System (LMS), such as Canvas, is used for all communication and class work.
  • There are no required on-campus class meetings.

 Hybrid Courses
  • Typically, 50% or more of traditional face-to-face class time is replaced with online or out-of-class work.
  • Courses make use of an LMS or other online tools for coursework and communication.
  • Class time is schedule to work in conjunction with online coursework and activities.

Traditional Courses
  • Courses are set up in a traditional, face-to-face format.
  • An LMS and/or other online tools are used together with the classroom to supplement face-to-face coursework.
  • Class time and meetings occur normally.

Adapted from: About Online Learning , University of Washington Bothell

How do I identify an online or hybrid course?

In Penn’s course search tool, Path@Penn, look for Instruction Method: Online or Instruction Method: Hybrid in the course description details. 

Example showing an online course with the Instruction Method listed as online.

What are the benefits and challenges of taking an online Penn Nursing course?








  • Students and faculty enjoy flexibility, access, and convenience in courses that can be taken and delivered from any location. 
  • Interaction and engagement can be seen from all class participants and not only the few who are comfortable raising their hands. Students have the opportunity to reflect prior to writing a response.
  • Successful online programs can also lead to increased satisfaction, higher retention, and enrollment for students who are able to satisfy requirements and pursue interests from home or while working.
  • The benefits of online learning to the University of Pennsylvania are myriad. Online learning expands access and extends reach to a global audience. 


  • Faculty members often need to rethink their course design and use different strategies for teaching, engagement, and assessment in the online environment. 
  • Faculty members need to come up with more creative ways to build connections both between teachers and students and among students as a whole.
  • Students who are new to the online environment or possess low motivation may fall behind or get confused.  
  • Although it is not necessary to have advanced technical skills, it is important to feel comfortable using a computer and navigating the internet.  
What can I expect from online courses in terms of workload?








Students often sign up for online or hybrid courses with the misconception that these courses will require less of their time for course work than a traditional course. This misconception might arise because the in-person class time has been reduced.  However, online and hybrid courses are just as rigorous, meaning just as much work as (if not more work than) traditional courses and should be treated accordingly.

Much more time will be spent communicating through formal and informal writing in online and hybrid courses. Be sure to check the syllabus for the instructor’s preferences for communication format, writing conventions, etc.

How can I prepare for an online or hybrid course?
Generally, make sure your computer and operating system are up to date and ensure that you have a reliable internet connection for class. For more detailed guidance and resources related to specific tools, visit our Learning Technology page.


Is online teaching right for me and my course topic?








Teaching in the online environment is different from teaching a traditional face-to-face course, and it may not be the right fit for every topic, faculty member or student! Faculty members must consider carefully when deciding if their course learning objectives could be achieved through online resources and technologies.

Faculty members often need to rethink the design of their course and consider a variety of new instructional techniques to enhance student learning. There are great benefits to teaching online but challenges, as well. Penn Nursing ITS is available to discuss needs and propose solutions.

Is online learning right for my students?








Penn students come to the university with a variety of experiences and opinions. First-time online students may have fear and reservations about venturing into this new environment. For some students, the online option offers exceptional flexibility and convenience. But just as teaching online requires new and different skills, online learning may not be right for every student.

Resources are available to help students determine if online learning is a good choice for them, including video demonstrations of the platforms to introduce students to this environment. Additional screencasts and tutorials exist to prepare students for their online classes. In instances where students want to earn credit over the summer term to fulfill course requirements, online learning is a terrific choice, no matter where students spend the summer.

What is synchronous vs asynchronous learning?






Synchronous online classes are those that require students and instructors to be online at the same time. Lectures, discussions, and presentations occur at a specific hour. All students must be online at that specific hour in order to participate.

Asynchronous classes are just the opposite. Instructors provide materials, lectures, tests, and assignments that can be accessed at any time. Students may be given a timeframe – usually a one week window – during which they need to connect at least once or twice. But overall, students are free to contribute whenever they choose.

How much work is involved in course conversion?










Transforming a course for the online environment often requires redesign effort to clarify learning objectives, organize course content, and identify resources. It is estimated that an instructor needs approximately 30 to 40 hours to design a course, 10 to 20 hours of technical support, and 6 to 16 hours of instructional design to reconfigure and support the online course. Penn Nursing ITS is available to help you every step of the way.

What training and resources are available for online teaching?








Penn Nursing ITS offers individualized training for faculty and technical support during course preparation and delivery. The team offers assistance and support for instructional design, customized course creation, technology and platform training, individualized practice sessions, tutorials, video editing, and more. Technical support is available to all faculty members and students during their course preparation and delivery, as well as during live sessions as needed. For more information, please contact the ITS Service Desk.

What are the copyright and intellectual property policies?





Penn’s Copyright Policy allows all academic creators of intellectual property to retain ownership of copyright in materials developed as part of teaching duties at Penn. There are exceptions to the general policy. See the Policy Statement on Copyrights on page 171 of the Faculty Handbook. The handbook is available from the Office of Faculty Affairs or online.