Technical Requirements

Our minimum recommended hardware and software guidelines are listed below. If your system does not match these guidelines exactly, you are still welcome to consider taking an online course. However, you may want to consider upgrading the necessary components to avoid possible problems.


Online course technology is optimized for PC's with Windows operating systems. You are welcome to take an online course with a Mac, but you are more likely to have complications. If you are using a Mac, you must have the Windows Office Suite applications, especially Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Most courses will use these applications often.

Hardware recommendations

  • 266 MHz Intel Pentium processor or better
  • 128 MB or more of RAM
  • 200 MB free on the hard disk
  • 33 Kbps or better modem, cable, or LAN connection to the Internet
  • 16-bit or better sound card and speakers
  • 65,000-color or better video display card
  • 15-inch color monitor or larger
  • CD-ROM and DVD-ROM drive
  • Windows 2000, or Windows XP (with the Microsoft Office suite)

Software Recommendations

  • Microsoft Office suite. It is essential to have Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Most professors will be using all these applications, and students will need to both be able to open the associated file types and complete assignments using these applications.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.0 or higher
  • E-mail that sends messages over the Internet and can include file attachments.

Internet Service Providers

Internet Service Providers, or ISPs, allow you to access the Internet from your home computer, through a modem or cable connection. We have noticed over the years that some ISPs work better with online courses than others. One important factor is whether an ISP uses a standard Netscape or Internet Explorer browser, or whether it uses a modified version of one of these, or its own proprietary browser. ISPs that use the latter (AOL is a good example), are not likely to work as well with online courses. Another important factor in choosing an ISP is the reliability and speed of the connection it offers.

Other recommendations

  • Ink-jet printer (laser printers are sometimes desirable unless you want color)

  • 4x speed CD-ROM drive (faster is better)

  • Option: A Zip, Jaz, tape, or other removable drive for backing up valuable data