Frequently Asked Questions
- Are professors/experts involved in creating these courses?
- Are the courses free?
- Do I need to apply to take Saylor Academy courses?
- How do I enroll or register to take a course?
- How do I begin taking a Saylor Academy course?
- When can I access Saylor Academy courses?
- Do the courses start on a particular date?
- I am interested in a subject or course that is currently not included on Saylor Academy. Why isn’t it available?
- Do you offer courses in other languages?
- I don’t live in the United States. Can I still be a Saylor Academy student?
- Where can I find more information on being a Saylor Academy student?
- Is there a Code of Conduct?
- Are the courses on Saylor Academy MOOCs?
- Is there a limit to how many courses I can take?
- Do I need to wait for a course to be complete before I can start?
- How long does it take to complete a program?
- What is a time advisory?
- How do you calculate your time advisories?
- Why doesn’t my course have a time advisory listed?
- Can I take individual courses in an Area of Study or do I need to take them in sequence?
- Does someone moderate student assignments and assessments?
- Are there prerequisites to taking any Saylor Academy courses?
- How long is the time limit for the Final Exam?
- What is the passing score for the Final Exam?
- If I fail the Final Exam, can I take it again?
- Can I view Saylor Academy courses on my tablet or mobile phone?
- Do I need to register with ePortfolio to get certificates?
- How do I enroll in a course?
- Do I have to ‘enroll’ in a course in order to take it?
- Do I have to actually pass all the listed prerequisites before enrolling in a course?
- What do the different privacy settings on my ePortfolio account mean?
- What is the benefit to making my ePortfolio Profile more public?
- Why am I redirected to the front page when I try to add a class to my portfolio?
- Why am I redirected to the homepage when I click on the Course Catalog or Student Directory?
- What does the “Plan” button mean in the Area of Study section of my Portfolio?
- Will I be awarded a degree, diploma, or certificate?
- Are the courses accredited or recognized by various professional bodies?
- Will my Saylor Academy course count as college credit at another college/university?
- How can someone (such as an employer or school) verify that my certificate is authentic?
- Can I get credit at Saylor Academy for outside courses that I have passed?
- How can I use the resources linked on Saylor Academy?
- How can I reuse your course material on another site?
- Who do I contact if I have additional questions, suggestions or feedback for the Saylor Academy team?
Are professors/experts involved in creating these courses? TOP
Absolutely. You can learn about our process on the About page, but we hire credentialed professors, teachers, and industry professionals who have previously taught the specific subjects they work on. These highly-qualified consultants research, design, and outfit our courses from start to finish — and all of the courses are destined to go through a peer review process. Moreover, our consultants have attended and have taught at many prestigious public and private institutions, including Princeton, Emory, Harvard, University of Virginia, the University of California system, Carnegie Mellon, NYU, and many more — including excellent schools you may never have heard of!
Are the courses free? TOP
Yes! All of our courses, resources, and associated site features are free – and always will be!
Do I need to apply to take Saylor Academy courses? TOP
No! There is no application process. Just head over to our homepage at www.saylor.org and select an area of study to begin!
How do I enroll or register to take a course? TOP
We do not require you to enroll or register to complete your coursework. Our optional student ePortfolio system allows you track your courses and progress, which you may find convenient.
How do I begin taking a Saylor Academy course? TOP
Beginning your studies with Saylor Academy is simple! Head over to our homepage at www.saylor.org, select an area of study from our homepage, and read through the intro paragraphs which will instruct you how to work through the program. Select a course where you’d like to begin, find Unit 1 on the course page, and begin to read and work your way through the Units in sequential order.
When can I access Saylor Academy courses? TOP
Saylor Academy courses are accessible at any time of the day at www.saylor.org.
Do the courses start on a particular date? TOP
Nope! Our courses are set up to be self-paced and automated, so you can start on any day – and take as much time as you need.
I am interested in a subject or course that is currently not included on Saylor Academy. Why isn’t it available? TOP
At present, we are focused on completing the courses currently listed on our site, which we selected based on two criteria: enrollment data for traditional U.S. colleges, and areas of study that already had large amounts of openly-licensed content available. We do plan to create more courses and areas of study in the future, so please contact us if there is an area that you’d like to see.
Do you offer courses in other languages? TOP
Our current focus for Saylor Academy is to provide an entire suite of courses in the English language. Currently, we do not have plans to translate our courses into additional languages; however, we welcome opportunities to work with other organizations who wish to do so.
I don’t live in the United States. Can I still be a Saylor Academy student? TOP
Yes, absolutely! The only requirements to be a Saylor Academy student are to have access to a computer with Internet and to have competency in the English language.
Where can I find more information on being a Saylor Academy student? TOP
Our Student Handbook is designed to give students a clear understanding of Saylor Academy and its offerings. It also clarifies various privileges and responsibilities that you can expect as a Saylor Academy student. You can find a copy of the Student Handbook here.
Is there a code of conduct? TOP
“Are the courses on Saylor Academy MOOCs? TOP
Well, not really. There is a lot of confusion about what exactly a MOOC actually is; the acronym stands for Massive Open Online Course (according to us, at least…you’ll see different versions). You can find a definition on the MOOC News & Reviews site, as well as elsewhere. We provide free, open, online, asynchronous courses. Where we differ from the common understanding of MOOCs is that a given course might not have “massive” enrollment at a particular time, and we generally do not run courses according to a schedule — students can begin any time and take as long as they need to finish. When we come up with an acronym that suits what we do, we’ll let you know!
Is there a limit to how many courses I can take? TOP
No, there is no limit to the number of courses you can take. You may take as few or as many as you would like. However, to obtain the knowledge equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in one of our areas of study, you should follow the requirements listed on each area of study homepage.
Do I need to wait for a course to be complete before I can start? TOP
No, you can certainly start any time, but it helps to know what’s up. There are three possibilities:
1) Missing resources, which will be indicated in the Resource Center on the left side of the screen (see image below)
2) The Final Exam is still in development. You can also confirm this in the Resource Center (ask us for an estimated completion date)
3) Broken links. We continually monitor our site for broken links; however, if you come across a broken link, please let us know!
How long does it take to complete a program? TOP
Our courses and areas of study are set up to mirror what you’d find at a traditional university. A “major” or “area of study” will typically consist of between 12 and 16 required courses. Each course is designed to be the equivalent of a standard, semester-long (15-week) course, though the time needed for each will vary slightly. Each course lists a time advisory in its Course Information section to help students plan and gauge how much time they should be spending on each unit.
What is a time advisory? TOP
A time advisory is a rough estimate of how long it will take you to complete a given course or unit, including all of its linked assignments, readings, videos, and other activities. You can find a course-wide time advisory in the Course Information section of a chosen course. (The Course Information section can be found in the menu at the top left hand side of a course’s home page. When you click on the “Course Information” line, you will see general information about the course and its resources and a section that discusses the time commitment or time advisory for the course.) You can find a unit-specific time advisory by navigating to the top of a unit in a course and clicking the “show” button that appears next to the “Time Advisory” heading.
The time advisory should be taken as a loose estimate rather than a requirement. You may find that it takes you more time to complete a given unit—or that it takes you far less! Please work at your own pace. These advisories have been designed by our faculty in order to give you a general sense of the time it generally takes a student to work through course materials.
Generally speaking, our courses are designed to sustain a semester-long period of engagement. At most higher education institutions, a three-credit, semester-long course will require 135 hours of work. This total includes both seat-time and homework time. We try our best to design our courses to meet this 135-hour goal, but not all courses are created equally. Some may take less time to complete.
How do you calculate your time advisories? TOP
Our faculty uses the Carnegie Unit of Credit model (more information can be found here) as a general guideline for estimating the amount of time it will take a student to work through a learning activity. Our faculty members also share their own expertise and experience in the classroom to shape these estimates. For example, they may build in extra time for review and self-study or in order to accommodate dense and complex subject matter. We encourage you to remember that our advisories are loose estimates. All students learn differently and at different paces. Work at your own comfort level.
Why doesn’t my course have a time advisory listed? TOP
Some of our courses include time advisories, while others do not. This inconsistency relates to a revision in our course design process. In mid-2011, we decided that time advisories should be included in all courses as a standard design feature and convenience to the student. Therefore, many courses completed prior to mid-2011 do not feature time advisories.
We are in the process of revisiting all of our courses in order to develop time advisories. We hope to offer them for every single course in our register in the near future.
Can I take individual courses in an Area of Study or do I need to take them in sequence? TOP
You can take as many or as few courses as you would like. Some courses, however, do have prerequisites. Be sure to check the “Course Requirements” area to ensure you have the recommended knowledge base prior to beginning your course.
Does someone moderate student assignments and assessments? TOP
Students that take our courses will not be able to interact directly with a professor. Our courses and instructional notes are instead specifically designed to engage and accompany you as you independently work your way through the assigned learning materials. We believe that this model will enable us to accommodate any individual interested in taking a course at any time and on any schedule. Therefore, your work will not be graded by professors; we instead provide you with either automated grading or access to the answer keys, rubrics, and other tools you need to assess your own work.
Are there prerequisites to taking any Saylor Academy courses? TOP
In some cases, yes. For some Saylor Academy courses, our consulting professors have determined that a certain knowledge base is necessary for the successful completion of the course and the course’s final exam. Be sure to check the “Course Requirements” area to ensure you meet the requirements prior to beginning your course. Please note that we do not require you to complete these prerequisites prior to taking any courses.
How long is the time limit for the Final Exam?
You are given 2 hours to take the final exam. There is a clock onscreen to help you keep track of your time as you go through the exam.
What is the passing score for the Final Exam?
You need to receive a score of at least 70% on the Final Exam in order to pass.
If I fail the Final Exam, can I take it again?
We always hope that our students can pass the exam on the first attempt. However, if you do happen to fail, don’t worry. You are allowed to take it again as often as you need in order to pass. Please be aware that if you fail, there is a 14 day waiting period for security reasons, and to allow you fully prepare for your next attempt.
Can I view Saylor Academy courses on my tablet or mobile phone? TOP
The Saylor Academy website is viewable on mobile and tablet devices, although it’s currently not optimized for that type of viewing. We are considering our next steps in appealing to mobile and tablet users.
Do I need to register with ePortfolio to get certificates? TOP
You will need to create an account with Saylor in order to receive your certificates. Registration on Saylor Academy provides you with access to the ePortfolio, the Discussion Forums, and the Testing Center. You are not required to make use of the ePortfolio if you are solely seeking a certificate: you simply need to have an account.
How do I enroll in a course? TOP
There are three ways to enroll in a course. First, you can browse our Course Catalog and enroll in any course that interests you. To get a better idea of the topics covered in a course, click on “read description” for a brief overview; you can select “More…” to view the full course description. Once you have enrolled, the course will immediately show up in the Current Courses tab of your My Portfolio page.
You can also enroll in a course through the Areas of Study guide provided in your My Portfolio section, or by clicking the “Add this course to your ePortfolio” button, which is found on all Saylor Academy Course pages.
Do I have to ‘enroll’ in a course in order to take it? TOP
No, you are not required to actually enroll in a course to access course materials. The enroll function is simply a means to allow students to track and plan which courses they are taking, or to show others what courses they are interested in.
Do I have to actually pass all the listed prerequisites before enrolling in a course? TOP
The simple answer is “no” — you can take any course you feel comfortable with. Statements about prerequisite courses are meant to reflect the requirements of a four-year degree program, or to give indications of courses that you might want to take first (for instance, some CS courses have mathematics pre-reqs, but of course if you feel comfortable with the math involved you can dive right in).
What do the different privacy settings on my ePortfolio account mean? TOP
There are 4 levels of privacy that you can choose for your ePortfolio account:
• Private: Only you and Saylor Academy Administrators will be able to view your portfolio. Sign-in required.
• Link-only Access: Your portfolio can be viewed by only those to whom you have given a direct URL link. Those viewers will not be required to sign-in themselves or have an account.
• ePortfolio User Access: Any registered ePortfolio User can find and access your portfolio. Those users must be signed-in.
• Public: Anyone on the web can find and access your portfolio. No sign-in is required.
What is the benefit to making my ePortfolio Profile more public? TOP
There are a number of benefits to a public ePortfolio setting. The system was designed to encourage Saylor students to find and work with one another. Making your profile more accessible will let others see the courses you are enrolled in, which can be useful in forming study groups. You will also be able to display the coursework and assignments that you are proud of, or ones that you would like feedback on. Finally, because the ePortfolio is also tied to our Discussion Forums, other users will be able to get a sense of how active you are within the Saylor Community, by looking at your forums post feed, which will display right in your ePortfolio profile.
Why am I redirected to the front page when I try to add a class to my portfolio? TOP
There are two potential reasons for this. 1) You must be signed in to add a class to your portfolio, if you are not, it may re-direct you to the homepage as a prompt to sign in. 2) This could be the result of a bug that exists when using Internet Explorer to view your ePortfolio. We are working on fixing this, but in the meantime, you may want to try a browser such as Chrome or Safari.
Why am I redirected to the homepage when I click on the Course Catalog or Student Directory? TOP
Currently, this is a browser issue. Internet Explorer versions 8 and 9 are not yet fully compatible with the ePortfolio system, which does cause errors like this to happen. Using Google Chrome or Safari has typically resolved this issue.
One other potential solution for this is to clear your browser’s cache.
What does “Plan” button mean in the Area of Study section of my Portfolio? TOP
This option is designed to let students set out their path of study, without having to actually Enroll in a course at that time. All courses that are required for the completion of a full Area of Study are automatically designated as Planned. When you are ready to begin taking one of those courses, simply press the enroll button to have it show up in your In Progress Courses tab.
Likewise, you can use this feature to populate your AOS maps with elective courses that you are potentially interested in taking, or to fill out required areas that offer a choice of courses. Even if you are not ready to take those courses at that time, “planning” them can serve as a helpful reminder of courses that you eventually would like to study.
Will I be awarded a degree, diploma, or certificate? TOP
The Saylor Academy is not an accredited institution and therefore cannot confer degrees. However, you will be able to download a certificate of completion after you pass each course’s final exam (a passing score is 70% or higher).
You may be able to obtain college credit using Saylor Academy materials. Learn about our college credit pathways here.
Are the courses accredited or recognized by various professional bodies? TOP
At present, the Saylor Academy is not an accredited institution and cannot confer degrees. Students that complete and successfully pass the final exam for a chosen course will instead receive a Saylor Academy certificate as well as a digital transcript (available through the ePortfolio). Some of our courses have been evaluated and recommended for college credit (upon completion of a proctored exam). Learn about our college credit pathways here.
Will my Saylor Academy course count as college credit at another college/university? TOP
Awarding college credit for studies completed at Saylor Academy is a decision that ultimately must be made by individual colleges. Some institutions, like Excelsior College, are encouraging students to use OERs (like those found at Saylor Academy) as part of their studies. We’ve also developed partnerships that connect students with inexpensive, portable credit, and have begun building a list of Partner Schools, that have guaranteed transfer of some of our NCCRS credit recommended courses. Learn about our college credit pathways here.
If you would like your college to award credit for Saylor Academy coursework that is not currently aligned to defined credit pathways, we suggest that you speak with your institution’s administrative offices about a number of different options. Firstly, you should talk to a professor, department head, or registrar about the potential to take an existing challenge exam (common at many schools), to earn credit and/or place out of a course for which there is a Saylor Academy equivalent that you have taken. Typically, schools that do have these exams will let students take them anywhere from no cost, to $100 per test.
Alternatively, you could ask to have a school official proctor your Saylor Academy exam attempt (thereby verifying that you are the one who passed the test, and should receive credit for it). This option may require the extra step of having your school review the Saylor course and exam, to determine whether it assesses the same topics as other college level courses on the subject.
If you’ve already taken and passed a Saylor Academy course, try submitting your digital transcript, available in your ePortfolio, for review by your school’s admissions/registrars office. Assuming the school doesn’t have transcript review fees, there is the potential for this option to provide students with free college credit transfer, though given potential identify verification issues, it is probably the least likely scenario for earning credit to date.
You should also look into whether your school has a Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) program, by which you may be able to write a narrative/create a learning portfolio, based on what you have learned in one of our courses. Often, a student will have to take a PLA writing class from the school first (for regular tuition), but they are then usually able to bundle courses into 1 portfolio assessment, thereby reducing the cost per credit earned.
We would be happy to assist in any conversation you have with your school!
How can someone (such as an employer or school) verify that my certificate is authentic? TOP
Each course certificate has its own verification code, which is also available when viewing your transcript:
Note that the course titles on the transcript (shown above) will be hyperlinks, as is the “Verification Code” column heading. The course titles point to the course page on Saylor Academy, while the column heading points to http://school.saylor.org. Visitors to the latter page can then find the “Verify Certificates” box toward the right of the home screen and input the appropriate code. A page will then display your name, the course name, and the date you passed the exam:
You may wish to provide the verification codes and appropriate hyperlinks directly to your employer or school. For instance, displaying certificates and transcripts on a resume would be difficult, but you could accomplish the same thing by writing:
Computer Skills and Literacy (online course) – verify at http://school.saylor.org (use code 2fGBBepe57)
Can I get credit at Saylor Academy for outside courses that I have passed? TOP
At present, we do not have the capacity to review outside work or transcripts and award a certificate for the matching Saylor Academy course. The best current option is to take and pass the final exams for Saylor Academy courses that match your prior knowledge and experience — there is no strict need to complete the coursework again, although you may find it helpful to do so.
How can I use the resources linked on Saylor Academy? TOP
While the goal of the Saylor Academy is to provide as much educational material as freely as possible (we default to the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license), we also try to present our students with the best and most accurate information. Sometimes, this means using resources that are protected by a variety of licenses and copyright agreements. Below is an explanation of the various licensing you may encounter throughout our courses.
Creative Commons License Suite
Founded in 2001, Creative Commons issued its first set of licenses the following year. These are intended to make it easier for copyright holders to extend specific usage rights to their audience. Six basic licenses are offered:
BY-SA (Attribution – Share Alike)
BY-NC (Attribution – Non-Commercial)
BY-ND (Attribution – No Derivatives)
BY- NC-SA (Attribution – Non-Commercial – Share Alike)
BY-NC-ND (Attribution – Non-Commercial – No Derivatives)
GNU License Suite
GNU is an organization sponsored by the Free Software Foundation; GNU has produced a number of licenses relating to software. Some of our materials make use of the following:
GNU’s General Public License is used for many software packages, as well as other items.
The GNU Free Documentation License is a form of copyleft intended for use on a manual, textbook or other document to assure everyone the effective freedom to copy and redistribute it, with or without modifications, either commercially or non-commercially.
The Design Science License is a form of copyleft intended for use on source data to grant permission to distribute, publish or otherwise present verbatim copies of the entire work, in any medium, provided that full copyright notice and disclaimer of warranty, where applicable, is conspicuously published on all copies, and a copy of the license is distributed along with the work. The DSL license was written by Michael Stutz.
These are materials that can only be reproduced or distributed for academic or teaching purposes. The licensors often intend audience and distribution to be limited to a classroom or a private website.
These are materials that can only be reproduced or distributed for non-commercial purposes, as specified by the copyright holder.
These are materials that the Saylor Academy has received the right to host through the outreach of our Permissions Initiative. However, please note that these materials are protected by copyright and may not be reproduced or distributed in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder.
More information about Creative Commons and licensing can be found in the Open Licenses section of our Open Course Resource Center.
How can I reuse your course material on another site? TOP
For entire courses:
Although we hold the copyright to our course outlines, we have made them available under a Creative Commons Attribution license (http://www.creativecommons.
For individual materials:
Detailed information about adapting a Saylor course can be found in the Revising and Remixing section of our Open Course Resource Center.
Who do I contact if I have additional questions, suggestions or feedback for the Saylor Academy team? TOP
You can get in touch by phone or email here:
Student inquiries and helpdesk: (202) 333-4007
Exams for credit/proctoring inquiries: (202) 333-4006
Business & general inquiries: (202) 333-4005