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Course Progression: Understanding Your Academic Plan and Program Requirements

Course Progression: Understanding Your Academic Plan and Program Requirements


By Rachael Dodson
Academic Advisor, School of Health Sciences, American Public University

Learn more about your online degree options at American Public University.

Understanding course progression is an important part of your academic journey. While course progression varies for each student and depends on the program you pursue, a talk with your Academic Advisor is beneficial. We are well-versed in each degree path.

How to Navigate Your Academic Plan

When you log into your ecampus, there are two ways to access your Academic Plan. The first way is by going to the “ACADEMIC PLAN & FORMS” tab and clicking on the “Academic Plan” link in the “COURSES & REGISTRATION” list. The second way is to select the “Register Now” button. Either of these options will take you to your degree plan to make course selections.

The Academic Plan is broken down into sections. Associate and bachelor’s degrees include some of the following sections: General Education, Core, Major, Final Program Requirement and General Electives.

However, please note that some degree programs will not require electives. Others have additional sections for minors or certificates if these courses of study are added to your program.

Be Sure You Understand Correct Course Progression

Progression is the order in which you take courses required for your program. Typically, students complete General Education courses and then work their way through the rest of their academic plan.

If you are in a program that requires math classes (beyond the General Education requirement), science courses with a lab or 16-week classes, you might want to save a handful of General Education classes to take with those classes. That way, it is easier to balance your workload.

What Determines an ‘Easy’ Class versus a ‘Hard’ Class?

We often get the question: “What is an easy class that I can take?” The course number and the required semester hours for that course determine its level of difficulty.

A general rule is that 100-200 level courses are less intensive than 300-400 level courses. Consider this fact when you create your schedule.

You must also take the subject matter into consideration. For example, maybe English is your strength. A 300-400 level English course may not pose as much of a challenge for you as it would for other students.

Your Academic Program May Also Impact Course Progression

Some of the programs for which I serve as an advisor include Nursing and Sports and Health Sciences. Nursing has pre-admission requirements, so scheduling those classes can be more challenging without our help. Some courses have prerequisite courses while other courses have designated start months, which affect students’ funding.

As for Sports and Health Sciences, scheduling can be equally tricky. Some required science courses have 16-week options as well as a lab.

How to Work with Academic Advising to Reach Your Goals

Academic Advisors are subject matter experts who have experience with your degree program. We can help set you up for success when it comes to planning courses and much more.

For instance, you can work with us to set goals for yourself or change your program if a switch needs to be made. You can talk with us about courses that may no longer be offered and get our help in resolving unique scheduling needs. We can also design program completion plans based on your specific goals and plans.

There are many ways to get in touch with your advising team. You can find our contact information in your ecampus, under the STUDENT SERVICES tab. On the left-hand side under “STUDENT SUCCESS,” there is a link for “Academic Advising.” You can chat with us, schedule a formal appointment or reach us by phone at 877-755-2787. Any time you have questions, please feel free to reach out to us at counseling@apus.edu.

Related stories:

How to Determine if a Certificate or a Minor Is Best for You

Doctoral Admissions: What You Need to Know About Applying

Put the University in Your Hands with the (New!) myAPUS App

About the Author

Rachael Dodson has worked at APUS for 6 years and is currently an academic advisor for the School of Health Sciences. Prior to APUS, Rachael was a certified medical technician for the ARC of Washington County, where she was a therapeutic support specialist. She has a bachelor’s in organizational management, with a concentration in biology. Rachael has also completed graduate level coursework at AMU. Her interests in the Health Sciences field are ornithology and plant science.



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