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Heights Platform How Long Should an Online Course Be?

How Long Should an Online Course Be?

5 minute read

If you are thinking about starting an online course, it's natural to have doubts and ask yourself many questions, including "How long should my course be?".

Figuring out the ideal length of your online course should not be a challenging task.

In today's article, you will learn how to determine the perfect length of your online course and why a longer course is not always the best idea.

How to Determine the Right Online Course Length

The ideal length of an online course highly depends on your audience, topic and goals. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to finding the perfect length of a course.

However, by analyzing a few aspects of your course, you can get a better idea of which length is more suitable for your students.

Let's see how can you determine the ideal length of your online course:

What Is The End Result?

The length of an online course depends on the end result you want your students to achieve.

Typical online course lengths can range anywhere from a couple of hours to 20 hours or more, depending on the subject matter and complexity of the topic.

For example, if someone wants to learn a couple of Spanish sentences so they can order a coffee while on vacation in Spain, they might take a one-hour course.

But if they want to learn Spanish to move to Spain and find a job there, then they might take a course that lasts several weeks or even months.

So in order to determine the ideal length of a course, think about what result and goal your students want to achieve at the end. From there, you can calculate backward the time it will take you to teach your topic with that goal in mind.

Who Is Your Audience?

Another factor to consider in order to determine the length of your course is who your students are.

Figuring out who your customers are is extremely important - not only to determine the length of your online course - but to define your marketing strategy and general approach towards your students.

Try to understand what your ideal customer "persona" is. Who are your potential customers? Where do they live? What do their lives look like? Are they busy or do they have a lot of free time? What are the biggest problems they need solutions for? And so on.

Answering these questions can help you get a better idea of how long your online course should be.

For instance, if your average customers are business owners with a busy schedule, you may want to keep your online course short and help your students reach the desired result in the quickest way possible.

What Are You Teaching?

The topic of your online course is another factor that can help you figure out the perfect length of your program.

With online education, the more complex the subject, the longer it will take for your students to complete.

So if you are teaching a topic at a beginner or introductory level, the course should be shorter and manageable to complete within a few days. On the other hand, if you are going more in-depth in your topic and teaching a complex subject, your students will need a longer time to complete it.

Another way to think about this is by asking yourself: "If I were a beginner, how long would it take me to learn this?"

Try to think about your personal experience as well, when you first got acquainted with your topic, how long was your learning curve?

With this new information at hand, think about how long it would take for students to learn your topic at a comfortable rate. You might also wish to pace your students in order to avoid them binging all your content in a single day, and not being able to retain what they learned. If you’ve planned an ideal pace, you can schedule your lessons to “drip” release out to the student over time so that they cannot overload by trying to complete them all at once.

Heights Platform makes it very easy for you to schedule the release of your lesson content when creating an online course with our drip release feature. This allows you to automatically unlock a module of lessons, or an individual lesson on a specific day after the student enrolls, in order to help provide the perfect pacing for your content.

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Longer Content Doesn’t Mean Better Learning

Many creators make the mistake of thinking that a longer online course equals better quality in the eyes of potential customers.

Most of the time, this is not true.

Your online course length should be tied to the speed at which you can help students achieve their goals.

If you are confident that your students can achieve actual results in a short time span then your course length should reflect this.

Your students will be grateful for being able to achieve their goals quickly. At the end of the day, they pay you to reach a result, not to spend all of their time with an online course.

For instance, if you believe it takes 10 hours of learning for your students to reach the end result, your course should be exactly 10 hours long. There is no point in making it a 20-hour course adding superfluous content that students won't need.

Another misconception among online course creators is that a longer online course equals a higher price. So many times creators feel the need to unnecessarily inflate their program's length to justify a higher price.

Same with the content, the price of an online course does not come from its length, but from its value, from the result your students can achieve thanks to your training.

Learn all about how to find the ideal price for your online course: Ultimate Guide to Pricing Your Online Course (With Earnings Calculator)

How Long Should Your Lessons and Videos Be?

What is the ideal length of a pre-recorded video lesson when creating an online course?

Pre-recorded videos are a great way for students to learn a new topic, as they can learn at their own pace and start the lesson whenever they want.

The key here is to create short, meaningful lessons that can effectively communicate a certain topic in a short time. You don't want to ramble on about the topic and risk boring your students.

Keeping the lessons and videos concise and to the point is generally the best way for improving the student's experience and enhancing their learning curve.

Studies show that the ideal length of a video lesson for an online course should not be more than 15 minutes.

If your videos are short and to the point, information is more digestible for students and you can reach a higher level of engagement.

Shorter videos are also easier for you to produce as a creator!

The same concept applies to lessons that do not include a video. Try to time yourself and see how long it takes to comfortably go through your course lessons. If it takes too long or the topic is too complex, try splitting it into multiple lessons.


Your online course length depends on your topic, audience and goals.

When creating an online course, to determine how long it should be, think about how fast your students can reach the end result. Understand your customer persona to tailor your course around their specific needs. Finally, depending on the complexity of the topic you are teaching, your online course can have different lengths.

Many creators make the mistake of believing that a longer online course equals better content and a justifiable high price, most of the time this is not the case. The most important thing is that your course actively helps students achieve a result in the best and fastest way possible.

If you need an online course platform that offers all the tools to provide a great learning experience to your students, look no further.

Heights Platform has everything you need to launch a brilliant online course and help your students achieve their goals.

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