Welcome to the Northern Virginia Community College Website

Accessibility Navigation:

Extended Learning Institute

Distance Learning and Online Classes

Each semester, NOVA’s Extended Learning Institute (ELI) offers more than 400 courses, with multiple sections starting throughout the term. You can combine online learning with traditional classroom studies, take a class or two, or complete one of more than 35 degree and certificate programs that are fully available online. Visit Online.nvcc.edu for a complete listing. NOVA’s ELI has been a nationally recognized leader in distance learning since 1975.

Mailing Address:
8333 Little River Turnpike
Annandale, VA 22003

3922 Pender Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030

Phone: 703–323–3347
Toll-Free Outside of Northern Virginia: 888–435–6822
Fax: 703–323–3392


Course Length

ELI courses may be 16, 12, 8, 6, or 4 weeks in length. Be sure to carefully check the start and end dates of each course before signing up, and remember that courses with shorter lengths involve the same amount of course material as a longer course and are taught at an accelerated pace.

Advantages of Online Learning

  • Begin your studies or complete your degree with more flexibility for work or family responsibilities.
  • Accelerate your academic progress by taking online classes with on-campus classes.
  • Complete assignments on a flexible schedule, meeting weekly course deadlines.
  • Reduce the amount of time spent commuting to campus.
  • Enjoy the same quality instruction, range of choices, and services as NOVA's on-campus programs.
  • Benefit from expert faculty skilled in online instruction.

How Does Distance Learning Work?

Distance learning courses provide students with an opportunity to earn college credit by taking courses online from a location of their choice. While distance courses are flexible, they require students to follow a structured syllabus and complete assignments by specific due dates. Distance courses require communication between students, faculty, and classmates. In most courses, students will use e-mail, discussion board posts, and submission of assignments through Blackboard as the primary means of completing coursework. Some courses require the use of additional websites, learning portals, and attending online course meetings via a microphone and headset. ALL distance learning courses require students to have access to a reliable high speed Internet connection. NOVA faculty members use e-mail as the primary means of communication, however, instructors may also use telephone, virtual office hours, and web technologies to interact with students and answer questions. Student services are provided through ELI and NOVA’s campus locations. Proctored exams are usually taken at a NOVA campus Testing Center, although an approved proctor may administer exams for students who live outside the Northern Virginia region, and many courses allow online proctoring of exams. Textbooks can be ordered online (nvcc-eli.bncollege. com) or in person at the Alexandria Bookstore.

Who Can Benefit from Online Learning?

Online learning is great for any student who wants the flexibility of completing coursework at a distance. While online classes offer location flexibility, they are highly structured and require as much or more time and effort than campus-based classes. Deadlines are firm and students must meet deadlines as stated in the course syllabus. These deadlines are specific to each course. Good reading and writing skills, initiative, self-discipline, and the ability to use technology are important for success. NOVA offers access to the SmarterMeasure assessment tool that helps measures student readiness for online learning.

How do I Enroll and Get Started?

Registration for ELI courses is the same as for campusbased courses, using NOVAConnect online. When course capacity limits are reached, ELI sections are closed to further enrollment. ELI courses are designated with the letter "E” before the course section number (for example, E05H, E20A). All ELI courses adhere to NOVA’s on-time registration policy. You will receive registration confirmation and instructions on how to get started with your course by postal mail. Once classes begin, you will find your course materials in your Blackboard course site. ELI courses require you to start working according to the start date in the course information you receive to avoid administrative withdrawal. Be sure to read each course syllabus and meet all deadlines.

Other Information

Internet Access

All ELI courses require high speed Internet access. If you are using a dial-up connection, you may not be able to access all course materials.

Virtual Class Meeting Courses

While most distance coursework does not include live classroom instruction/ lectures, some courses require students to attend scheduled online sessions at pre-designated times using online meeting software such as Blackboard Collaborate. For more information and minimum technology requirements, visit Frequently Asked Questions on ELI's website.

VCCS Distance Learning

Distance learning courses are also offered at other colleges in the Virginia Community College System (VCCS). For advice and help in choosing a class, contact ELI to speak with a counselor at 703–323–2425, contact your academic advisor, or call ELI's hotline at 703–323–3347.