6. Differences Between Instructor- and Self-Paced Courses

The pacing of a course refers to how course teams run the course, and how learners can interact with the course material. Many courses are instructor- paced: they follow a schedule that the instructor sets, with assignments and exams that have specific due dates. In contrast, self-paced courses contain assignments without due dates. You can progress through the course at your own speed.

On the edx.org home page, an indication below a course’s start date and above the course’s Enroll Now button lets you know if a course is self-paced. If a course is not marked as self-paced, then it is instructor-paced.

6.1. About Instructor-Paced Courses

Instructor-paced courses follow a set schedule. The course team sets specific due dates for assignments and exams, and you complete the course within a defined time period, such as eight or twelve weeks.

Course materials become available at specific times as the course progresses. Assignments have due dates, and exams have start and end dates. In the course outline on the Course page, indicators show when you have a graded assignment, as well as the due date for the assignment.

Part of the course outline in an instructor-paced course, with due dates visible for graded quizzes.

In most instructor-paced courses, certificates are generated within two weeks of the end of the course.

For information about receiving certificates for an instructor-paced course, see Receiving a Certificate.

6.2. About Self-Paced Courses

Self-paced courses do not follow a set schedule. Course materials are completely available as soon as the course begins. Assignments and exams do not have start or due dates. The course shows indicators for graded assignments, but not due dates. You can complete assignments and exams at your own pace, as long as you complete all course work before the course ends.

A course card for a self-paced course, showing the "Self-Paced" label

In most self-paced courses, the course team generates certificates on a schedule, such as once a month. The certificate generation schedule varies by course.

For information about receiving a certificate for a self-paced course, see Receiving a Certificate.