Course FAQs

We have compiled answers to some of the most Frequently Asked Questions below. If you aren’t able to find the answer you are looking for, please feel free to contact us at 1-800-258-0929 or by email at for more information.

Basic Setup of the Courses

Q. When do classes “meet”? What if I can’t get online then?
A. Getting to class “on time” is never a problem with HOW Design University. All course components are asynchronous, which means you can log on at your convenience, day or night, to participate. Students from across the country and around the world communicate with each other and the instructor by posting comments and questions in designated discussion areas. When you’re ready to go to class, you simply log on to the site, visit the various student areas, post your questions/responses/comments to the ongoing discussions, read the lesson material, or submit your assignment to your instructor. Students should allow around 2-5 hours per week to read materials, complete assignments and interact with the instructor. A student’s knowledge base of the topic and previous experience may allow one to move quicker. But have no fear, instructors and teaching assistants are available to help students grasp the knowledge and gain the wanted skill set.

Q. If I do not live in the United States, will I still be able to participate in the courses?
A. Yes, we have students from all over the world. Since the courses don’t meet at any specific time of day (see above), you can log on at any time of day or night.

Q. Are my assignments/exercises private?
A. Yes. Assignment/exercises are submitted directly to the course instructor. The Blackboard system contains a feedback area where your instructor will make comments on your work and where you may post follow-up questions for your instructor’s response. No one but you and your instructor will have access to your submissions. Quizzes are automatically “graded” as you complete them—after answering a question, you will see if your answer is right or wrong, as well as an explanation for the correct response. But if you have questions or messages you’d like to share with the whole class, you can post to the class message board, which is public.

Q. What if I know I won’t be able to “attend” a lesson during the course. Can I make up the work?
A. Yes. You may access all lesson materials for the duration of the course session. As long as you turn in your exercises before the end of the course, there’s no penalty for being “late” with an assignment. (Our assignment/exercise and quiz due dates are simply guides to help you pace your studies and get a timely response from your instructor.) If you know ahead of time that you won’t have access to a computer during a part of the session, you can complete the assignment early or let your instructor know you’ll be completing it later.

Q. Can I email my instructor directly? What if I want to call him or her?
A. Email is not a primary communication tool for these courses. All interaction takes place within the Blackboard interface. If you have a general question feel free to post it in the message board for the instructor and your fellow students. However, if you have a private question you only want to ask the instructor post it in the “Ask the Instructor” section of the course. In order to protect our instructors’ privacy, phone calls are not permitted.

Q. Will I receive a certificate of completion after taking a HOW U course?
A. Yes. Within one week or less of completing your course, you will automatically receive a PDF certificate of completion, emailed to the address you registered with.

What Course(s) to Take

Q. Can I take more than one course at a time?
A. Sure, if it makes sense and if you’re able to make the time commitment. If you take on more than you can realistically handle, you won’t get as much from the experience.

Q. Do I have to take courses in any particular order?
A. Most classes can be taken in any sequence that works for you and satisfies your research needs and goals. Certain series of courses are designed to follow a logical progression, the classes build on each other and are meant to be taken in order. Although we recommend taking selected courses in the order intended, it’s not required nor do you have to take all of these courses.

Technology FAQs

Q. What if I have computer problems and can’t get on the internet? Will you accept late assignments?
A. You can submit assignments/exercises & quizzes any time during the duration of the course. But if you are unable to “attend class” for an extended period, you can contact us. We aren’t able to offer computer repair advice, but we will be able to offer you alternative solutions to getting your work completed. If your system failure forces you to drop out of a course, our standard refund policy will be applied (see Registration Policies for details).

Q. Do I need any special hardware or software to participate in a design course?
A. In order to participate in the courses, you need internet access, an email account, a current internet browser, a PDF reader and word-processing software.

For PC users, Internet Explorer 7 or 8 and Firefox 3.5 or 3.6 are recommended. For Mac users, Safari and Firefox are recommended. Some users have encountered issues when accessing Blackboard using Chrome. (We do not recommend using AOL’s built-in browser or any other internet service provider’s proprietary browser, as certain functions may be restricted.) You can see the Blackboard system’s current browser recommendations here. Because we regularly upgrade the site and add features, we recommend always using the most current browser version available for your system to make sure that you can take advantage of enhancements as they are made. If you need to upgrade your browser, go to your browser manufacturer’s website and download the most recent version.

You will also need an email account to receive registration confirmations and other announcements (email is not used for class communications). Most lessons include exercises in the form of Word documents (.DOC files), so you will need word processing software to complete them. If you’re a Mac user and do not have Microsoft Word or any other word processing software, the free Open Office suite is a good option. You also need the free Adobe Reader (or Preview, which comes with Mac computers, or another PDF viewing program) to view PDFs. All of the course materials and reading assignments are viewable online and downloadable in PDF format.

Questions About Textbooks

Q. What if I already own the textbook, but it’s a couple of years old?
A. Your edition should be fine to use, but if you want to verify it, you can contact us by email at with the title and copyright date and we’ll let you know if you need to buy a more recent edition.

Q. Do I have to buy my textbook from one of your suggested online retailers?
A. No. We’ve provided links to a couple of popular book-purchasing sites for your convenience only. You may purchase from one of them, from another online vendor of your choice, or at your local bricks-and-mortar bookstore. Feel free to shop for the best price and/or delivery schedule. No matter where you decide to purchase, you should have your textbook prior to the course start date.

Cancellations & Refunds

We’re absolutely confident that you will enjoy and benefit from your design course experience, and your paid registration guarantees a place for you. Because that place cannot be filled after the registration cut-off date, if circumstances do force you to withdraw, the following refund policies apply:

If you cancel up to two business days prior to the start of the course, you are entitled to a full credit toward another course (valid for six months) OR a full refund less an administrative and cancellation fee (20% of the course tuition fee).

No refunds will be given less than two business days prior to the start of the course.

Course credits must be applied to another course registration within six months. Credits cannot be changed into refunds.

If we cancel or reschedule a course, you are entitled to a full credit or refund without any assessment of administrative fees.

In order to cancel your registration, you must notify us by email at; refund calculations will be based on the date/time the email is received by us. Your email message must include: your full name, user name and password, the name and date of the course, and your return email address.

Failure to “attend” class, failure to submit assignments, and/or notifying the instructor DOES NOT constitute official cancellation. Refunds take 4-6 weeks to process, and will only be given via the same form of payment you used when registering.