Finite Element Principles Frequently Asked Questions

Registration l Course/Certificate Completion l Reimbursement l PrerequisitesSoftware


I have never taken an online course and am not sure it's for me.

We give several strategies in the Welcome Module for students to succeed in online learning. These strategies can also be found on our Online Learning Strategies page. The most important element to succeeding in online learning is managing your time well to ensure you don't get behind. The class is structured, and you will have frequent interactions with the instructor as well as the other students. If you have questions, the instructor is available throughout the class, so you will have support and access to OSU staff to assist your learning.

Do I have to complete an application when registering for each course?

No, there is no application process. The registration includes typical required information only such as name, address, phone, etc.

Do I have to pay for the entire program upfront?

You will pay your course fee upon registration for each course. If you take a third course, contact the SIMCenter at to request a registration code so that the third course is only $500, for a total program cost of $2500.

I’m a little concerned about the cost.

Check with your employer. Many employee benefits will cover certificate course fees with approval. Also, if you work for an Ohio employer, much of the course fees can be covered by the state through the Ohio Tech Cred program.

Can I take more than one course at a time?

It is strongly discouraged to take more than one course at a time due to the time commitment required. If you want to take more than one course at a time, please contact so that we can meet with you to discuss what is best for you.

Is there a sequence students should follow when taking the courses?

The courses are offered in the following sequence:

  1. Foundations in Finite Element Principles
  2. Finite Element Principles in Linear Dynamic Analysis
  3. Finite Element Principles in Non-Linear Static Analysis

Do I have to take all four courses?

Students must complete three courses to earn the Certification in Practice of Finite Element Principles, but you may take as few or as many courses as you like.

Do I have to take the courses in order? What if I only want to take one course?

Foundations in Finite Element Principles contains information that helps with the courses that follow. If you choose not to take it, then it is expected you already have this foundational knowledge in finite element principles. (e.g. linear static assumptions and element stiffness matrix, assembling a global stiffness matrix, nodal DOFs, boundary conditions, governing equations, potential shape functions, etc). Registration priority is given to students working toward the full certificate.

How long do I have to complete the certification?

Students can select their own pace and take up to a maximum of 3 years to complete the certification.

How can I learn more about online assignments and the pace of the course?

View this video for general information specific to the Foundations in Finite Element Principles course. Or, watch this example demo from the same course to get a feel 

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Course/Certificate Completion

What is the time commitment for each course?

  • Instructional material equivalent to a one-semester credit hour class
  • A typical week will take the average person approximately 2 hours for "in-class" work and 4-6-hours for "homework" for a total weekly time commitment of 6-8 hours. Please note, every learner is different, so this is only a guideline. Some learners may need to budget more time to complete the course requirements. 
  • All course lectures are recorded and available to you 24/7 through the university's Learning Management System, Carmen. 
  • ​Course duration: 10 weeks. 

Do I receive a final grade for each course?

No. Final course grades are Pass/Fail based on an 80% or better score.

If I fail a class, must I pay again to retake the course?


If I cannot complete a course, must I pay again to retake the course?

Yes. The only exception is for medical-related emergencies, and documentation must be provided to the program. An administrative fee will still be imposed to retake the course.

Do I receive a certificate after each course?

Yes. Students receive a certificate after passing each course. A final certificate is provided upon satisfactory completion of all four courses.

Can I receive an Ohio State transcript that will include these courses?

No. This certification is non-credit, therefore the courses will not appear on an official Ohio State University transcript.

Can these courses be transferred into an Ohio State degree program?

No. This certification is non-credit so it's not possible.

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Can Ohio State employee tuition benefits or financial aid be used to pay for the courses?

Unfortunately, because the courses are non-credit, you must pay for the coursework and we can't accept tuition benefits from OSU or financial aid. However, your employer/department may offer to pay for or reimburse your costs through a training budget. Ask your employer/department if this funding is available.

How do I know if my employer/department will pay for or reimburse the course fees?

Check your company's policies about training/professional development. These courses are also TechCred approved courses. Tech Cred is a program through the state which helps Ohio employers support their employees in earning technical credentials. Be sure to let your employer know if you work in Ohio.

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I've been out of school for a number of years and I don't remember much of Calculus or linear algebra, is that a problem?

You may need to put in a little extra time, but as long as you've taken that coursework you should be able to complete this course. There are also several free online services if you want to brush up on these skills now.

I don't have any Matlab or scripting experience, is that a problem?

It may take you more time, but it's very intuitive. We've designed problems to be at the introductory level. We provide resources throughout the course to help you.

Am I going to be solving problems like I did in my undergraduate mechanics courses?

You will have homework problems, but many are conceptual and are asking you to explain concepts and relate them to finite element methods. The focus will not be on the math as it was in more traditional undergraduate courses.

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Can I take these courses if I don't have access to finite element software?

Yes. We have virtual classroom space for students who need access to software through an agreement with the Ohio Supercomputing Center (OSC). Please contact SIMCenter ( to make arrangements.

I've never used finite element software and don't know how to build a mesh, apply material definitions, or apply loads and boundary conditions. Can I still take these courses?

You should have a basic working knowledge of the software package you plan to use prior to taking these courses. Refer to our supplier page for available resources. Software suppliers are great resources for training materials specific to a software package.

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Contact us for more details

Complete a connection form to get more details via email or schedule a 1-on-1 informational ZOOM meeting with us!