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Online/Virtual Courses

What do we offer?

online courses

The MSU Department of Physics and Astronomy offers a series of virtual introductory physics courses, which fulfill regular degree requirements both at MSU and at other secondary and post-secondary institutions.

In addition to standard algebra-based and calculus-based physics courses, there are "Bridging" courses available. These upgrade a previously-taken algebra-based physics course to the corresponding calculus-based physics course while minimizing duplication in course content (since the underlying concepts will be familiar from the earlier course) and reducing the number of credit hours needed (as compared with retaking the complete course).

The online format allows for additional flexibility in personal scheduling. The courses which are offered are as follows:

  Algebra-Based Bridging Courses Calculus-Based
1st Semester: Mechanics PHY 231C
3 credits
PHY 233B
2 credits
PHY 183B
4 credits
2nd Semester: Electricity & Magnetism PHY 232C
3 credits
PHY 234B
2 credits
PHY 184B
4 credits
Modern Physics & Thermodynamics     PHY 215B
3 credits

When can I take it?

These courses can be taken at different times during the academic year:

  Fall Semester Spring Semester Summer Semester
First Half
Second Half
PHY 231C (algebra) Regular full semester Regular full semester Intensive  
PHY 232C (algebra) Regular full semester Regular full semester   Intensive
PHY 233B (bridging) Regular full semester Regular full semester Regular full summer term
PHY 234B (bridging) Regular full semester Regular full semester Regular full summer term
PHY 183B (calculus)     Regular full summer term
PHY 184B (calculus)     Regular full summer term
PHY 215B (calculus)     Regular full summer term

In particular, this means that the algebra-based sequence can be completed during a single summer term.

What do these courses involve?

You can take these courses from anywhere in the world, and you can take them without ever coming to campus. The online physics courses offer both online course materials and online homework, based on the LON-CAPA system. There are also typically four exams in the regular full semester courses: three midterms and a final. The intensive half-semester summer courses may vary from this pattern, with either one midterm and one final or three to four shorter exams. These are only general practices; as always, consult a course's own documentation for details during a given session (as examples, you can check out the syllabi for PHY231C and PHY232C intensive non-calculus-based introductory physics courses).

If you are living far from our campus or traveling with an MSU-sponsored program (like Study Abroad), you need to arrange for proctoring well in advance. If you are living close to campus, you can simply take the exams in an on-campus venue.

What costs are involved?

For information on tuition rates, methods of payment and other cost-related aspects of taking courses at MSU, see the relevant links on the Student Accounts Office website (http://www.ctlr.msu.edu/COStudentAccounts/).

Can I take these even if I am not an MSU-student?

You can take these courses as a life-long learner. See https://www.reg.msu.edu/ROInfo/EnrReg/LifelongEducation.aspx for details. Registration as a life-long learner is easy. You will be required, however, to pay a slightly higher tuition. You can use the tuition calculator at http://ctlr.msu.edu/COStudentAccounts/TuitionCalculatorFall.aspx to figure out cost, using "lifelong education student-undergraduate" as "Your level."

  • If you are a high school student, the courses qualify for dual-enrollment. See https://admissions.msu.edu/admission/freshmen_dualenrollment.asp for information about this program.
  • If you are a teacher, the courses may qualify for Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Talk to us to explore options!
  • If you are a student from another college or university, credits will likely transfer. See https://transfer.msu.edu/ to figure out course equivalencies.


Contact Jennifer Roberts for questions or concerns.