Student Orientation: Taking an Online Course

Student with laptopWelcome to the Friday Center’s Student Orientation page for online students. Whether you’ve already enrolled in one of our courses or you’re still thinking about taking an online course, this orientation will help you better understand how our online courses work.

Taking a course online is not the same as attending classes on campus, but we think you’ll find that being a member of an online learning community has its advantages. You can develop skills including self-discipline, reading for comprehension, and clarity in writing that will help you in other learning environments. You’ll also enjoy the flexibility of working at a time of your choosing and in comfortable surroundings.

The Friday Center offers two types of online courses: semester-based Carolina Courses Online (CCO) and Self-Paced Courses (SPC). You can learn more about each type on the Credit Programs for Part-time Students page.

Still deciding?

Take some time to explore the resources under the “Thinking about Taking a Course?” menu to the left. The Self-Assessment will help you figure out whether online learning is right for you. You should also check out our Student Voices blog, which chronicles the journeys of several students taking online courses and will give you a first-hand idea what it’s like to take an online course. You can see which courses are currently being offered by reviewing the CCO course list or the SPC course list.

Also check out the information in the “Already Enrolled in a Course?” menu. Even though you haven’t registered yet, this part of the orientation shows you what to expect in the registration process and what an actual online class looks like.

Once you decide to take a course, use the links below for enrollment instructions.

Already enrolled?

Congratulations on registering for an online course through the Friday Center! We want to do everything we can to help you feel ready to begin your course. This part of the orientation is split into two parts: an overview of what you need to do before beginning your course (Next Steps) and an explanation of how Sakai works (UNC’s learning management system).

This orientation includes information about Carolina Courses Online (CCO courses) and Self-Paced Courses (SPC courses). Most information is relevant to both course types, but sections that are specific to one type are marked clearly.

If this is your first time accessing the orientation, read all of the sections carefully. If you’re returning to the orientation for information about a particular topic, use the links to the left to jump to the appropriate section.

Next Steps

Now that you’ve registered for an online class, make sure to complete the steps listed below before you begin. 

Set up Onyen and Email (CCO only)


You will access your course with a unique identifier known as your UNC Onyen (Only Name You’ll Ever Need) and your Onyen password. If you do not have an Onyen, it is important that you create one before your course starts. Please allow 24–48 hours after registering before trying to create your Onyen. Then go to the Onyen Services page and follow the directions. You will need your PID number, which you will find in your confirmation letter. You will need to use your Onyen and password each time you access your course.


You also need a UNC-Chapel Hill email account to receive communication from your insturctor and billing information from UNC-Chapel Hill Student Accounts. Go to and follow the instructions. Access your email at

Pay Tuition


After you have enrolled in a course, you will be billed for tuition and fees via email by the UNC-Chapel Hill Student Account Services office. If you have questions about the ConnectCarolina billing process, or about fees, holds, or other aspects of your bill, visit and click on Student Account Services. Information on third-party payment options can be found at Student Account Services under “Our Services.” If you are a UNC employee, you can use the Employee Tuition Waiver program.

Students who register after the billing period must pay estimated tuition and fees or give notice of anticipated aid to the University Cashier before they can be officially enrolled.

If you’re a UNC-Chapel Hill full-time, degree-seeking student registered for at least 12 credit hours (undergraduate) or at least 9 credit hours (graduate) of on-campus courses for a fall or spring semester, you will not be charged additional tuition for taking a CCO course in the same semester.

Tuition and other charges are subject to change, based on legislative mandates. It is possible for tuition to change for a particular semester after you are enrolled. If this happens, you will be billed for any increases, and any overpayments will be refunded.


Tuition and fees are paid at the time of enrollment. You can pay your tuition via check, money order, or credit card (MasterCard or Visa). Note that debit cards requiring the use of a PIN for all transactions cannot be used. Please make checks payable to “The Friday Center,” and note that a $25 fee is assessed on all returned checks. If you are a UNC employee, you can use the Employee Tuition Waiver program to cover the cost of tuition and fees. The fee for noncredit courses is indicated in the individual course descriptions. Tuition and other charges are subject to change without notice. You are responsible for charges that are in effect at the time a transaction occurs.

Review Confirmation Letter

Once you have successfully registered and paid your tuition, you will receive a registration confirmation letter that contains instructions on how to access your course. Please keep this letter for reference throughout your course.

Purchase Materials

The required textbook(s) for each course are listed with the course description. Friday Center Books & Gifts, operated by UNC Student Stores, is located on the first floor of the Friday Center and carries the correct editions of the required textbooks. You can also order your materials online from the Friday Center Books & Gifts website. If you buy textbooks from outside sources, please be sure that you are purchasing the correct editions.


You should buy your textbook after the dates below but as soon as possible after you enroll.

  • For spring semester courses, purchase books after Dec 1.
  • For summer semester courses, purchase books after Apr 15.
  • For fall semester courses, purchase books after July 15.

Create Your Study Space


Make sure you have a good study environment that works for you. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but try to designate a space that’s quiet and free from distractions or reminders of your other responsibilities.


You need to have a computer (PC or Mac), Internet access, and an email address. Our recommended browser is Firefox. Your version of Firefox should be as up-to-date as possible. You can download it for free if you don’t have it.


Pay close attention to the due dates listed on the course schedule, and be sure to give yourself plenty of time to complete your assignments. Think about when to study: What time of day are you the most focused? What days of the week allow for periods of uninterrupted time for you to work?


If you are taking a self-paced course, your course does not have built-in pacing or instructor-set deadlines. This means that you are completely responsible for setting your own goals and deadlines to complete each lesson. Keep in mind that regularly scheduled study is ideal. You may begin work on your course immediately after enrolling. Your enrollment period is nine months from the date of enrollment (see the Self-paced Courses section on Restrictions, Time Limits, and Expirations for more details). The minimum time to complete a course from the date we receive your first assignment is

  • 1 credit hour: 6 weeks
  • 2 credit hours: 9 weeks
  • 3 credit hours: 12 weeks
  • 4 credit hours: 16 weeks.

If you have any trouble keeping to your schedule once you begin your self-paced course, don’t give up! After all, one of the advantages of taking a self-paced course is its flexibility.