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Distance Student Orientation

We are excited that you made Western Carolina University your choice for online learning.  By navigating through the following links, you will discover resources to help you get started as a new online student at WCU. These resources and student support services are available to you, whether you are across campus or across the country!

Distance Learning Services is here to help you!  If after reviewing this information you have a question and are not sure who to contact, contact us!  We will answer your question or get you connected directly to someone who can assist you. Distance Learning Services can be reached at 828-227-7397 or

Starting summer 2022 the Office of Distance Learning will be hosting Distance Learning Orientation Live Sessions every Tuesday & Thursday from 7:30-8:30pm EST that run from May - August. We also plan to have a few sessions in November & December for incoming spring students.

myWCU is the WCU Student portal where you can do almost everything you need. From registration and bill paying to updating your contact information and applying for graduation, myWCU is the place to conduct most of your business. Learn more on the myWCU log-in page.

WCU posts our courses in Canvas. You will not be able to access your courses until the first scheduled day of classes. You will get access to Canvas once you are admitted to both the University and your program. There is an Orientation page in Canvas for Distance Students, and Passport to Canvas module you can complete. You will not get access to your courses in Canvas till the first day your course starts.  If you have trouble you can contact the IT Help Desk at 828-227-7487.

Catamount Email
All WCU students have a student email account. For security reasons, this will be the primary tool we use for communication about your student records, waitlists, reminders, and all other student information. It is essential for your success that you check your Catamount email regularly.

Accessibility Resources

Contact the Office of Accessibility Resources if you require accommodations based on a documentable disability. Your information will remain confidential and secure, and you will never be required to disclose your disability unless you require accommodations.

Computer Requirements
All WCU students must own a computer that meets or exceeds the minimum requirements for your program. If you do not already own a computer with these specs, then we offer some assistance for Student and Personal Computer Purchases.If you have any trouble with your computer or any of WCU's online services, please contact the IT Department.

Software Downloads

IT Services offers free software downloads, for programs such as Audacity, Gimp, and Linux. We also offer a free download of the Microsoft Office Suite which is available in your student email. Simply click on the Office 365 Logo in the top-left corner of the email homepage. You can use the web-based apps, or you can click the drop down box in the top-right corner to download the complete suite for your home computer.

Academic Policies

Distance Learning students are expected to follow the same academic policies as campus students. It is the responsibility of every student to understand the academic policies of Western Carolina University.  We have outlined the most common Academic Policies for Distance Students.  We strongly encourage students to review the undergraduate college catalog to become familiar with all of the academic policies. 

Required Student Training Modules

WCU requires all students 23-years-old, or under, to complete these training courses before beginning classes. Students 24-years-old, and older, are required to complete all other training, except for AlcoholEDU. Instructions will arrive in your Catamount email shortly after the first two weeks of courses. All other training modules will sent to you via email from the Office of Student Affairs in the Everfi system. You must complete these trainings before the deadline or you will not be able to register for the next term. If you are a student in one of our Graduate Programs, you can qualify for a waiver for these courses. Please contact the Graduate School ( for more information.

 If you have follow up questions or concerns about student training modules, please contact Student Affairs directly at: 828-227-7147. 

Check for Holds 
Occasionally, myWCU will deliver an error or hold message when you try to register for a class. You can use our guide to Troubleshoot Holds and Registration Restriction messages. In most cases, you can get holds lifted with a phone call or email to the appropriate office. In some cases, you might need to call the Distance Learning Office (866.928.4723) for more information and instructions on how to get holds lifted. Graduate students can contact the Graduate School (828.227.7398) for questions regarding holds.

Degree Audit 
You can check your degree requirements and your progress toward completion using the degree audit. Please note that it can take four to six weeks for the Registrar's Office to apply all of your transfer credit. Therefore, the first time you run the audit it might not accurately reflect the credits awarded for your transfer work. You'll need to use your knowledge of what you've taken and advice from your advisor to make an educated guess about which classes to take your first semester, if your audit has not populated by the time you are wanting to register. 
You can view our entire How To Section for how to search for class, run a degree audit, read a degree audit and more. 

Who is my Advisor?
Any student in an Undergraduate or Graduate program will be assigned an advisor based on their program of study. Here is a link to the advisors for each program: Undergraduate Distance Academic Advisors

How to Register
New students are allowed to register once open enrollment begins, after priority registration. Continuing students will be issued a Time Ticket based on the number of hours needed to complete their degree requirements. Time tickets will be available in myWCU before registration begins. Registration is a student-driven process, so it is essential you view a degree audit and the online class schedules before selecting courses and/or contacting your advisor.

Pay for Classes
Undergraduate students: Once you register, we will generate a bill based on the current Tuition and Fees rate. Of course, it will take some time for that bill to be viewable. The Billing and Payment Schedule is based on when you register and when the semester begins. Be sure to make a note of the due dates so that you are not dropped for non-payment. Also, be sure to review the Financing Your Education information below to learn more about Financial Aid, Scholarships, and other payment methods. 
Graduate students: Payment is due the first day of classes and can be paid in myWCU.

Financial Aid 
For students who wish to apply for Federal Student Aid, your first stop is the Financial Aid Office. You can also check their Frequently Asked Questions page for quick answers to the most common questions.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the first step to take for all federal or state based financial aid including, Pell Grants, Perkins Loans, and Stafford Loans. The application opens for the following academic year in early January, so make sure and file early.

Student Accounts 
The Student Accounts Office is responsible for collections, returned checks, credit card discrepancies, voiding refund checks, withdrawal refunding, Graduate Assistantship Power of Attorney forms, and any other student account related issue.

WCU has an office dedicated to helping students find and apply for university, state, and other scholarships.

Funding Sources for Graduate Students

In addition to your financial aid package, there are a variety of other funding sources that can help you pay for graduate school.

The College Foundation of North Carolina is an excellent resource for information about additional forms of student funding.

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