Course Formats

To help ensure the health and safety of our community, we're delivering courses in several ways. Digital technology allows us to promote physical distancing by offering many courses fully or partially online.  


Our fully online classes are designed to be flexible while creating a sense of community among you and your fellow students. You'll have an active presence in the virtual classroom, and your instructor will be available to guide you and answer questions. Online classes can either meet at a scheduled date/time (known as synchronous) or be completed on your own time (asynchronous). Learn more about synchronous and asynchronous classes.

Face to Face

We offer certain courses in the familiar face-to-face format. These in-person classes require personal interaction, such as laboratory, performance-based or clinical courses. However, the class sizes are small enough, or the academic spaces large enough, to maintain proper physical distancing. You're expected to attend face-to-face courses unless you're experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or other health concerns.

If you're not comfortable with face-to-face learning, don't enroll in these courses. If you're enrolled in a face-to-face course and need to modify or restrict your in-person learning activities, your instructor will provide you with opportunities to make up coursework. Read tips on face-to-face learning (PDF). You're expected to participate in NIU’s surveillance testing program and attend face-to-face courses unless you're experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or other health concerns.


Hybrid courses use both online and face-to-face instruction methods. For example, a hybrid science course might combine online lessons with in-person laboratory experiences.  

Staggered Attendance

In a few face-to-face courses, the classroom can't accommodate all the students at one time due to physical distancing requirements. In these cases, faculty determine a staggered attendance schedule. This divides students into groups that alternate between attending class in person with watching a live stream of class. For example, you could attend class on Tuesdays and watch a live stream on Thursdays.  

Back to top