Online College Courses for High School Students: Course Overviews

Taking courses online can be an excellent way for high school students to earn college credits or simply gain college-level experience in the classroom. Online college courses are offered by several well-regarded postsecondary institutions in the U.S.

Essential Information

Some colleges and universities provide high school students with the opportunity to get a feel for college coursework and in some cases earn credits by offering online courses. Students can find classes in a wide range of subjects, such as English, math, history, engineering, art, health, business administration and science. These courses are usually open to high school sophomores, juniors and seniors. Enrollment requirements can vary from one school to another.

Brown University

Brown University offers a competitive pre-college program that gives high school students the opportunity to experience college-level coursework and find out what subjects interest them. These courses are available any time of year and can be completed on your own schedule.

Pre-college courses offered through Brown University online include:

  • Writing for College & Beyond
  • Crafting a Video Essay
  • Anatomy, Physiology and Disease
  • DNA Science
  • Lessons in Leadership
  • So You Want to Be a Doctor?
  • Exploring Engineering
  • Becoming an Entrepreneur

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania offers online college courses to high school students through Penn Summer Online. This summer program is available to highly motivated students who are currently in the ninth, tenth or 11th grades. Successful completion of Penn Summer Online courses may lead to academic credit that can be applied toward an undergraduate degree.

Students may enroll in up to two classes per summer. Available courses include:

  • U.S. history
  • Calculus
  • World music
  • Greek mythology
  • Romanticism
  • German
  • Social justice

Oregon State University

High school students with a minimum GPA of 3.0 can earn college credits online through Oregon State University's (OSU) extended campus. These are regular OSU courses, so your online classmates will include adult college students; standard tuition and fees do apply.

More than 40 courses are available to high school students through OSU online, including:

  • Introduction to Chemistry
  • Microeconomics
  • French
  • Atmospheric sciences
  • Women's studies
  • Wildlife conservation
  • Anthropology

California State University - Dominguez Hills (CSUDH)

Several institutions in the California State University system offer a Young Scholars program that allows high school students to earn college credit. However, CSUDH is one of the few that allows young scholars to take courses online.

High school students who live in California can earn up to six units of college credit per semester for under five dollars. Classes are webcast at a specific time each week, giving students the opportunity to interact with instructors in a live format. Available courses change each term, and may include:

  • Interpretation of art
  • Marine life
  • American history
  • Recreational studies
  • Astronomy

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