Types of College Courses

The type of course can refer to either the method of tuition or to the nature of the course.

Types of college courses according to method of tuition:

Colleges offer courses in various ways. Because there are different methods of tuition available for students to choose from, college courses are more accessible to students. Students can choose a study option that suits their own schedule and can easily combine studying with their other commitments if they need to do so. The different methods of tuition are:

  • Full-time (classroom-based)

Full-time classroom-based courses usually require students to attend classes during the day on most week days.

  • Part-time (classroom based)

Part-time classroom-based courses also require students to attend classes. However, the classes often take place during the evenings and over weekends in order to accommodate people who are working while studying.

  • Distance learning

Distance learning courses, also referred to as home study courses, are offered via correspondence. Students are usually not required to attend any classes. This allows students to work and study at the same time, as well as to adapt their schedules to their personal situations. This is generally a very flexible study option.

  • Online study

Online study allows students to complete their courses via the Internet. Online study courses usually involve participation in virtual classroom sessions, or online tutorials. In order to do courses online, students are often required to have access to a fast, stable Internet connection.

Types of college courses according to the nature of the course:

The nature of the course can refer to various aspects, such as whether a course is credit bearing or non-credit bearing, or whether it is a certificate course, a diploma course, an advanced diploma course or a short course. In South Africa, FET courses are also regarded as a particular type of course.

  • Credit bearing courses versus Non-credit bearing courses

A credit bearing course is a course for which credits are awarded in relation to a course’s contribution to a programme, unit standard, part qualification or qualification. In other words, credit bearing courses are courses that count towards earning a type of qualification or part qualification. If you want to complete different parts of the same qualification at different educational institutions, you need to check whether all of the credits that you have already earned will be transferred.

Non-credit bearing courses are courses for which no credits are awarded. This means that they cannot lead to a qualification. They are usually aimed at equipping students with knowledge and skills that are relevant for professional development. Non-credit bearing courses are a good option in the following situations: if you want to learn something new, if you are studying for personal enrichment, if you want to get used to being a student again or if you are looking for a refresher course.

  • Certificate courses

Certificate courses are usually designed for people who would like to update their skills, to acquire certain new skills, to earn credentials, or to change careers. They are mostly shorter in duration than diploma courses, but this is not always the case.

  • Diploma and Advanced Diploma courses

In South Africa, diplomas are generally career-oriented qualifications. This means that they are aimed at preparing students for a particular line of work and at equipping them with the knowledge and skills that they require in practice. The work covered in a diploma course usually builds on knowledge and skills gained in a prior qualification, such as a certificate. Diploma courses are normally shorter than full degree programmes. An advanced diploma course usually builds on what was covered in the corresponding diploma course.

  • Short courses

Short courses are designed to meet specific workplace needs, to teach specific skills, or to allow students to acquire certain knowledge. Short courses therefore usually have a very narrow focus, and, as the name suggests, they are short in duration. They make it easier for students to gain access to education, and help to save time, money and other resources. Short courses are associated with “just in time” and “just enough” learning. This type of course can be either credit bearing or non-credit bearing.

  • FET (Further Education and Training) courses

FET courses are post-school courses that are either vocational or occupational by nature. They prepare students for a specific range of jobs or employment possibilities by providing the necessary training and education. FET courses aim to provide students with marketable skills. FET courses can also cover Grade 10-12, which means that students who leave school at the end of Grade 9 can complete their senior certificates through an FET college. Students must be 16 years of age or older to do an FET course. There are FET courses available in a wide range of study fields.

Different Types of College Classes