Computer Requirements

Using a computer is a very important part of taking an online course, although you do not need to have any special computer skills to take an online course. Below you will find a list of basic computer skills, as well as computer system minimum requirements and recommendations. In addition, your instructor may require you to use special applications in class. 

Basic Computer Skills

To succeed in an online course, you must be able to perform these minimum skills:

  • General computer operations. You should know how to turn the computer on and off and get to its applications.
  • Basic software and typing skills. You should feel comfortable using the keyboard and typing your work using the Microsoft Word word processor.
  • File management. You should be able to locate and open files on your computer's hard drive and on a CD-ROM. You should know how to save files to a flash drive or some other external storage format. If you have a CDRW drive, you should know how to burn files to a CD.
  • Downloading and installing plug-ins. Your instructor may require you to download and install special programs to help you open certain files on your computer (e.g., Adobe Acrobat Reader to open PDF files, Real Player to open audio files, etc.).

Hardware and Software Requirements

If you are not sure how to check your computer specifications (processor, memory, etc.), find out more about Checking Your Computer Specifications. --Although it is possible to use a computer that does not meet the minimum system requirements, you may experience problems with certain activities, such as watching streaming video.

Windows PC Minimum Requirements Windows PC Recommended Requirements
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 or XP
  • Pentium II processor 300 MHz or higher
  • 10 GB hard drive minimum
  • 64 MB RAM minimum
  • CD-ROM drive
  • floppy disk drive, zip drive, or CDRW drive
  • phone modem or network card for Internet connectivity
  • sound card and speakers
  • 800x600 pixel monitor or larger
  • Microsoft Office 2000 or XP
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 or XP
  • Pentium III or higher; 800 MHz or higher
  • 20 GB of Hard drive space or higher
  • 256 MB RAM or higher
  • CDRW drive
  • phone modem or network card for Internet connectivity
  • sound card and speakers
  • 1028x728 display or higher
  • Microsoft Office 2000 or XP
Macintosh Minimum Requirements Macintosh Recommended Requirements
  • MacOS X
  • G3 Processor 266 MHz or higher
  • 10 GB hard drive minimum
  • 128 MB RAM minimum
  • CD-ROM and CDRW drive
  • phone modem or network card for Internet connectivity
  • sound card and speakers
  • 800x600 pixel monitor or larger
  • Microsoft Office X

(basically any Macintosh purchased within the past four years should meet these requirements)

  • MacOS X, 10.2 "Jaguar" or higher recommended
  • G4 Processor 500 MHz or higher
  • 20 GB of Hard drive space or higher
  • 512 MB RAM or more
  • CDRW (Combo) drive or DVD-R (SuperDrive).
  • phone modem or network card for Internet connectivity
  • sound card and speakers
  • 1028x728 pixel monitor
  • Microsoft Office 2004 or higher

(basically any Macintosh purchased within the past two years should meet these requirements)