6.1.3. Course Description

Descriptive course information includes information such as the course short and long descriptions, as well as information about what learners will learn, the subject, and the difficulty level. Course Short Description Guidelines

An effective short description follows these guidelines.

  • Contains 25–50 words.

  • Functions as a tagline.

  • Conveys compelling reasons to take the course.

  • Follows search engine optimization (SEO) guidelines.

  • Targets a global audience. Example Short Descripton

The first MOOC to teach positive psychology. Learn science-based principles and practices for a happy, meaningful life. Course Long Description Guidelines

Given the diversity of online learners, be sure to review your course description to ensure that it clearly communicates the target audience, level, and prerequisites for your course. Use concrete, unambiguous phrasing, such as a prerequisite of “understand eigenvalue decomposition” rather than “intermediate linear algebra”.

An effective long description follows these guidelines.

  • Contains 150–300 words.

  • Is easy to skim.

  • Uses bullet points instead of dense text paragraphs.

  • Follows SEO guidelines.

  • Targets a global audience.


The first four lines of the course long description are visible when the About page opens. Learners can select “See More” to view the full description. Example Long Descriptions

The following long description is a content-based example.

Want to learn computer programming, but unsure where to begin? This is the course for you! Scratch is the computer programming language that makes it easy and fun to create interactive stories, games and animations and share them online.

This course is an introduction to computer science using the programming language Scratch, developed by MIT. Starting with the basics of using Scratch, the course will stretch your mind and challenge you. You will learn how to create amazing games, animated images and songs in just minutes with a simple “drag and drop” interface.

No previous programming knowledge needed. Join us as you start your computer science journey.

The following long description is a skills-based example.

Taught by instructors with decades of experience on Wall Street, this M&A course will equip analysts and associates with the skills they need to rise to employment in the M&A field. Additionally, directors and managers who have transitioned, or hope to transition, to M&A from other areas such as equities or fixed income can use this course to eliminate skill gaps. What You Will Learn Guidelines

The “what you will learn” information describes the skills and knowledge learners will acquire in the course in an itemized list. EdX recommends that you format each item as a bullet with four to ten words. Example What You Will Learn

  • Basic R Programming

  • An applied understanding of linear and logistic regression

  • Application of text analytics

  • Linear and integer optimization Subject Guidelines

A primary subject is required. Optionally, you can select up to two subjects in addition to the primary subject. Only the primary subject appears on the About page. Example Subjects

A particular course might specify the following subjects.

  • Primary subject: History

  • Additional subject: Architecture

  • Additional subject: Anthropology Level Guidelines

Use the following guidelines to select the level for your course.

  • Introductory - No prerequisites; a learner who has completed some or all secondary school could complete the course.

  • Intermediate - Basic prerequisites; learners need to complete secondary school or some university courses.

  • Advanced - Significant prerequisites; the course is geared to third or fourth year university students or master’s degree students.