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Nontraditional Courses

Nontraditional courses are classes taught online or through distance learning, independent study, individualized instruction or correspondence methods.

For a nontraditional course to count as an NCAA core course it must meet all the following requirements:

  • The course must prepare students for academic work at a four-year college.
  • The course must be comparable in length, content and rigor to courses taught in a traditional classroom setting.
  • A student in the course must have regular interaction with the teacher for instruction, evaluation and assistance for the duration of the course. This may include, for example, exchanging emails between the student and teacher, online chats, phone calls, feedback on assignments, and the opportunity for the teacher to engage the student in individual instruction.
  • The course must have a definite time period for completion. For example, it should be clear whether the course is meant to be taken for an entire semester or during a more condensed time period.
  • The course must be clearly identified as nontraditional on students' official high school transcript.

A nontraditional course could fail to meet NCAA core-course requirements for any of the following reasons:

  • Does not have teacher-based instruction.
  • Does not require regular and ongoing interaction between the student and teacher.
  • Does not have certified or qualified teachers.
  • Does not require students to complete the entire course.
  • Allows students to complete a course in a short period of time.
  • Allows students to take numerous courses at the same time, especially courses in the same subject area or that are sequential.
  • Does not prepare students for four-year college classwork.
  • Does not verify a student's identity.
  • Does not have formal assessments or has only limited assessments.
  • Does not have official student grade records.

Information for school administrators

If a nontraditional course or program at your school has not yet been reviewed by the NCAA, please contact the NCAA Eligibility Center to begin the review process.

Credit recovery programs

Many high schools offer credit recovery or credit retrieval programs for students to receive credit for a course they previously failed. Some students take credit recovery to improve grades for courses that they took previously or to take courses for the first time to catch up.

For a credit recovery course to count as an NCAA core course it must meet all the following requirements:

  • The course must meet all the requirements of an NCAA-approved nontraditional course.
  • The school must follow its credit recovery policies, whether or not the student is an athlete. The NCAA Eligibility Center may request the school's policy if necessary.
  • The credit recovery course should be clearly identified as such on the high school transcript.