I would like to pursue summer college courses - particularly a creative writing class and a computer science class - to help broaden my knowledge and improve upon myself as a person.

However, looking at some college courses in the local city, tuition alone for a single undergrad course is upward of $800 for a three-credit Summer class.

This seems a little excessive. Is this a typical cost for college summer courses in most areas? And is there a cheaper alternative if I'm seeking to expand my knowledge pool, and not necessarily seeking academic credit hours?

  • 2
    This sounds about right to me, you can get away a little cheaper by taking the classes at a local community college. I've seen as cheap as $60 a credit at some of those programs. Commented May 7, 2015 at 17:45
  • In same states, the cost per course decreases if you enroll in more courses for that semester. For example, the first two may cost you $800 each but additional courses may be less than $400 each. Commented May 7, 2015 at 18:21
  • @AustinHenley I'm aware of that much, though it doesn't help me very much when I'm looking for only 1-2 courses.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 18:27
  • There's no reason for summer courses to be less expensive than fall/spring courses. Do the universities have continuing education programs? Those are non-degree and often inexpensive.
    – mkennedy
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 19:10
  • @mkennedy In my experience courses taken through non-degree or continuing education programs cost roughly the same as regular tuition.
    – Roger Fan
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 19:22

2 Answers 2


The cost of summer courses in the United States is likely to be as staggeringly variable as the the cost of courses during the semester. To the best of my knowledge, most universities generally do not change their tuition fees significantly during the summer.

As such, it will range across at least two orders of magnitude depending on the school you are dealing with, and can easily change by nearly an order of magnitude depending on the type of student that you are. Consider, for example, this table of tuition rates published by the University of Iowa: you will find that summer course charges are almost identical to semester charges, and differ wildly for Iowa residents and students coming from out of state.


to help broaden my knowledge and improve upon myself as a person

If you don't need the credits toward a degree, then the solution is to audit the classes. What might trip you up is that summer programs often do not allow auditing, whereas the fall and spring semesters do.

The audit fee is often on the order of 10% of the normal charge.

However, even that has a potential solution. Send an email to the instructor, asking him/her to give you a call please. (What you're going to say needs to be said in person or on the phone, not in an email.)

Explain that you would like to audit his class, but since auditing isn't permitted at this institution during the summer session, you'd like permission to do an informal audit. If the instructor is a reasonable person, the answer will be yes.

On the other hand, if you need the credits, take a look at http://www.collegecalc.org/ to compare tuition rates.

Please note, you can get a very good creative writing course at some community colleges. Sometimes that's the best place to get individualized attention. Don't forget to check ratemyprofessor.com before you register for classes.

  • At some institutions allowing an informal audit will get the faculty member fired. ratemyprofessor.com is not very reliable. Commented May 10, 2015 at 4:32
  • @AnonymousPhysicist, do you think the faculty member can say no to the request, if s/he does not wish to accept the proposal? - - - Agreed, ratemyprofessor has to be taken with a grain of salt -- but let me ask you, are you saying one shouldn't look at it at all? Do you have a better alternative? Commented May 11, 2015 at 5:02

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