Calculus Online Course Requirements and Classes Available

Online calculus courses are available for college credit, continuing education and professional development units, or simply for self-enrichment. Students interested in earning college credit for completing online calculus courses should complete courses that are part of degree programs, while students looking to learn for fun may be able to complete free online calculus classes.

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Online Calculus Courses

Here are a few common options for students looking to take online calculus courses:

  • Precalculus: A testament to the often challenging nature of the subject, a precalculus course is often required before advancing to more complex courses. Calculus is a subject that requires extensive knowledge of other mathematical fields, and precalculus courses ensure that students have a solid grasp of algebra, geometry, and more. Topics in this course include logarithms, linear equations, and polynomials.
  • Calculus 1: Designed for students new to calculus, this course introduces two of the most basic and essential concepts in calculus: derivative and integral functions. These two types of functions are the basis upon which most calculus instruction occurs, meaning students must completely understand them. This course explains these concepts and prepares students for more advanced topics that appear in other calculus courses.
  • Calculus 2: Building off of topics covered in the prerequisites and introductory courses, this course delves into complex calculus topics. In addition to exploring ideas already established in earlier courses, this course introduces new concepts such as integration, exact equations, infinite sequences, and first-order ordinary differential equations.
  • Calculus 3: Calculus 3 continues to expand on mathematical topics discussed in Calculus 1 and 2. Partial derivatives, integration, and various mathematical theorems, such as the Stoke's Theorem and Divergence Theorem, will be the focus of coursework. This course often requires Calculus 1 and 2 as prerequisites.
  • Calculus for Engineers: Lecture topics in this online course will include Bessel and modified Bessel functions, Residue Theorem, and boundary-value problems. Discussions about Fourier series, Laurent series and Taylor series work will also be covered. The specialized combination of coursework of this class is designed to provide engineers an advanced study of calculus and its use in their field.

Program Information

Both credit-based and non-credit online calculus courses are available. Credit-based courses are generally offered for a fee and are typically geared toward students looking to fulfill math requirements prior to graduation or for professionals working on their continuing education and professional development requirements. Credits earned can be transferred to the student's college of choice. Non-credit online calculus courses are usually offered for free in OpenCourseWare format by schools like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

To access course materials, interactive calculus courses require special computer software and hardware, including Adobe Flash Player, Microsoft PowerPoint, RealPlayer and an Internet connection. Online courses usually consist of chapters from a textbook that have been posted online and usually do not require special software or hardware. Students would need to purchase the textbook to follow along. Depending on the course's format and requirements, exams can be taken at home or completed at an approved testing site.

Calculus is an advanced level mathematics topic that can be completed online at various levels. Beginners or casual learners can start with a Precalculus or Calculus 1 course, and continue learning with online courses in Calculus 2 and 3. Advanced graduate level courses are also available with specialized goals, such as calculus for engineers.

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