Online Students

Students can complete their Bachelor of Arts degree with a Social Development Studies major entirely online. This applies to both 3-year and 4-year plans.

Whether you are completing one course, one term, or your entire degree online, please review this page for helpful tips and resources.

Key Resources

Accessing Courses & Further Information

Frequently Asked Questions 

What's the difference between an online course and an on-campus course?

On-campus courses are taught in-person at either Renison, UW or other university college campuses. Course material is presented through weekly lectures or seminar classes, and in-person tests, presentations, etc. are expected. Classes are traditionally once a week for 3-hours or twice a week for 1.5-hours, though some classes may differ. On-campus courses provide more opportunity for face-to-face support from peers, the instructor and teaching assistants. There may be multiple sections of a single class available each term.

Online courses are run remotely and do not have any in-person components (excluding final exams, if applicable). Lecture material is presented online weekly and may or may not include written notes, recorded/linked audio or video, etc. Class participation is commonly assessed through "discussion boards", where students post their response to the weekly lecture material and reply to posts submitted by their peers. Most marked components (e.g. assignments, midterms) are to be submitted within the online platform and instructor interaction occurs via messaging boards or email. Class caps tend to be larger than on-campus courses (no room-size limitations!) and there is normally only one section offered.

How do I sign-up for online courses?

Students register for both online and on-campus classes through Quest. Courses can be chosen during the course selection period or the add/drop period each term. Online courses will show "ONLINE", "ONLN", or codes like 081, 082, etc.

How do I know if I got into an online course?

If you course selected an online course, you can confirm your enrolment by viewing your schedule in Quest (see Important Dates for when this becomes available). Online courses will not show in a schedule-view, but will be noted in list-view. Their location will always show as "TBA".

If you add an online course in Quest during the add period, successful enrolment is indicated by a green checkmark. You can then confirm by viewing your schedule. 

Where will I access my courses?

Every UW course uses LEARN to provide certain materials online and fully-online courses will run entirely through the platform. You can log-in to LEARN by using your WatIAM credentials. Review the LEARN Help website if you have questions or email

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Can I review course outlines from previous terms?

The Centre for Extended Learning's website provides information on all online courses available through UW. This includes when their next scheduled offerings are planned, general course information, and a PDF of the most recent course outline (if available). Outlines are subject to change each term and should only be used as a general guideline.

Where do I write final exams for online courses?

This depends on a) if your course has a final exam, b) if you're taking any on-campus courses at UW at the same time, and c) where you are located. Review the "Write Exams" page on the Centre for Extended Learning's website for more detailed information.

Do I need a WatCard as an online student?

Yes. Your WatCard is needed to write final exams and can be useful in accessing some online resources. For more information see the WatCard for Fully Online Students website.

Can I use my Watcard to access Grand River Transit if I'm fully-online?

Potentially. Under the current contract between UW and GRT, only full-time students can use their automatically WatCard as a bus or ION pass. Part-time students can opt-into the pass if needed. For more information visit the WUSA GRT page. 

Are online courses cheaper?

No. Online courses are not less expensive than on-campus courses, though you will pay fewer incidental fees if fully online. Please see Student Financial Services for more information.

Are online courses easier?

No. An online version of a course is not guaranteed to be easier than an on-campus version, or vice versa. Course material and subject matter for either modality remains the same, though grade assessments may differ. Students taking online courses may find themselves feeling more responsible for staying on track of lecture material and assignments throughout the term (i.e. do not have reminders in class). 

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How many online courses per term are recommended?

There is no magic number to rely on. Your best fit can depend on activation (part-time or full-time), if you're registered with AccessAbility, if you're working, volunteering or have other commitments outside of classes, your own personal preference for term-load and time management/organization skills, etc. Connect with your academic advisor to discuss further.

What SDS Courses or Specializations are available fully online?

Our Courses page lists all SDS courses that currently have online availability. Some may be offered only through main campus (e.g. PSYCH 101).

For those following 4-year plans, be advised that there are only four online 400-level courses available (you need three for the major). Your options include SDS 400R, SDS 405R, SDS 425R and PSYCH 444R.

Currently the Social Work, Education and Individual Well-being & Development specializations can be completed online through careful course selection.

When are they guaranteed to be offered?

It is not possible to guarantee when the courses you need for your degree will be online. Most of our SDS elective courses that have an online version are offered only once a year. Be sure to confirm available courses each term using the Schedule of Classes.   

The courses below are considered "core" for both the 3-year and 4-year SDS Major. They are commonly online in the following terms:

  • PSYCH 101 - every term (main campus)
  • PSYCH 253 - fall and winter (main campus)
  • SOC 101 - winter and/or spring (main campus) 
  • SOCWK 120R - 2-3x terms a year, always spring
  • SDS 131R - every term
  • SDS 150R - every term
  • SDS 250R - 2-3x terms a year, always spring
  • SDS 251R - 2-3x terms a year, always spring

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I need mental health support and/or academic accommodations.

Outside of Campus Wellness (who are able to do online/virtual appointments, if within Ontario):

Any student in need of academic accommodations can register with AccessAbility Services. They'll work with you to determine if/what supports can be provided toward taking online courses.

Anything else I should know?

If you're on socials, follow our SDS Facebook page or SDS Instagram for ongoing updates, tips and reminders. SDS Peer Leaders occasionally run study sessions throughout the fall and winter terms, and they often incorporate Facebook Live as a way to join-in remotely.

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