Requirements Course Items
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Specifying Requirements For Your Online Course

Introduction – To Online Course Requirements

Course requirements help prospective students know what they need in terms of computer devices, software, physical tools, accessories, and skill levels before taking your creative course.

It helps prospective students feel confident that they have the right prerequisites to take, learn, and buy your online course.

What Are Course Requirements?

Course requirements let potential course buyers know what is required in order to successfully take this course.

Requirements let future students know what is required in order to successfully take a course

Here are some common requirements:

  • Internet
  • Computer
  • Sewing machine
  • 11×14 drawing pad

Why Include Course Requirements?

If you are a course creator you should include course requirements so that your customers know if they qualify and are ready to take your course.

Some requirements are simple like have Internet access and a sketch notebook, in which case it’s appropriate and fair to call out these requirements.  The majority of students will probably have access to these basic requirements, but you are being honest and open-minded to let your customers know that these are essentials.

Other requirements may be harder for your students and they need to know ahead of time, like having a sewing machine or having a soldering iron for making costume jewelry.  Customers should be able to make their own decision as to whether they want to learn and apply the skills later, or learn while they create alongside you.

How To Name Your Course Requirements Section?

The course requirements section could go by a variety of different names.  

Some names sound like formal school dependencies but others can have a more fun workshop tone.

Here are some common requirement section names:

  • Tools we will use
  • Requirements
  • Class Requirements
  • System Requirements
  • What equipment do I need (One of the FAQs)

You should use a Title Case consistent with the rest of your section headers.  This includes deciding if you are globally going to capitalize prepositions.

Common Requirements For Online Courses

Access To The Internet

Online courses often list access to the internet as one of the course requirements.

In some cases, your course may allow students to download courses and watch them offline. but even in this case, your students will initially need access to the internet in order to download the course.

Listing access to the internet may seem silly but there was a time where many electronic courses were delivered using a CD or DVD. Over time, students were able to download training applications or full video but then watch the course without the Internet.

Remember Internet access, reliability, and speeds are less of an issue for many today, but there are still places where reliable and low cost access is still an issue.

Therefore, some of your course customers may it beneficial to see a  clear statement that access to the internet is indeed required. This is especially true if you are hosting your courses outside of traditional marketplaces like SkillShare and Udemy.

Device Requirements

It may be helpful to some course buyers to know ahead of time that this course is available to them on their preferred and secondary devices.

For example, you can let students know that a computer or mobile device is required. A teacher could also highlight in a summary area that a particular device is supported.

In some cases, your course may not support mobile phones and tablets in which case you should document that a computer desktop computer is required. You may even have to specify a Windows or Mac computer is required if your course software or videos have been created for a certain target computer.

If your course only works on a certain mobile Operating System (OS) like iOS and not Android you should also let customers know that in the requirements section of your course

If your course requires software that is only available on one OS, as a courtesy you can let your buyers know that they can view the course and lessons but the software is only available on some platforms.

Software Requirements

If you require a certain piece of software you should let your students know.

The software could be listed as optional if they can watch and learn from most lessons without requiring the software.

In some cases, an alternate software could be used like if you’re converting icons from PNG to SVGs. Since there are many software applications or online tools that can do this, you can list this as a generic dependency.

Some software comes in a range of tiers and packages like Adobe Photoshop. Let your students know that they can use any of the versions or you can list out the two or three versions that will work in your lessons. If your course can utilize a free trial version, then you should definitely mention that in your requirements.

Required Course Equipment

Some classes may require or recommend gear for you to use and try during the course.

If the course is about taking good photos, a camera may not be required as the course teaches specific photography techniques and skills on how to use a camera.

In other cases, if the course is about mastering a particular camera type then a student really should own or have access to that camera so they can follow along.

Some examples of required equipment could be:

  • Bulleted list cameras
  • Wacom tablets tripod
  • Sewing machine
  • Microphone
  • Food mixer
  • USB Drive
  • Dutch oven

Accessories & Materials

Courses may want to let you know about specific accessories, materials, and supplies.

This often happens with makers, artists, or in the fashion industry.

Often these classes can specify their accessories as optional so that students can watch but get the supplies in the future. But we found that these courses provide the best results when the students can follow along with their own supplies.

Examples of materials and accessories include:

  • Specific paints and colors
  • Pliers and tools for crafters
  • Fabric and thread for sewing
  • Sketchbooks for designers
  • Seasonings for culinary or cake decorating

Age Requirements

In some cases, a minimum age could be specified based on the content of the material or perhaps the complexity of the material.

Here are some examples of classes that can have an age requirement:

  • Stage lighting
  • Cooking classes
  • Dramatic acting
  • Maker machine shop

Skill Requirements

Teachers can list specific skills and experience prerequisites in the requirements section.

Here are some examples of skill requirements:

  • Knowledge of photo editing programs like PhotoShop, GIMP, or
  • Woodworking power machine skills
  • Basic MS Word or Google Docs usage
  • Video editing skills on Premiere, Final Cut Pro, Avid, or similar programs
  • Ability to read sheet music

Often teachers add these course foundational skills to the course overview or the who is this for section. For more information read The Is This Course For Your Section.

Where Should You Put Your Course Requirements?

Your course requirements should be listed on your online course sales page.

You want to start your sales page with all the essential course information like the overview, benefits, teacher bio, and outline.

Course requirements should be listed in the middle of your course sales page or off to some sort of sidebar if part of the design.

The requirements should also come before reviews, Frequently Asked Questions, and the final purchase opportunity on the bottom of the page.

Teachers should want buyers to find course requirements if they are looking for them, but they shouldn’t get in the way of the basic course information and the standard sales flow.

You may find that more courses are putting requirements inside of a collapsed Frequently Asked Questions section instead of dedicating a significant visual area on the sales page.

How To Create A Requirements List

You can create a simple requirements section and list in just a few minutes.

If you need a requirements section you can use your online course system like Thinkific, Teachable, or WordPress LearnPress to create an HTML compliant requirement section on your online course sales page.

First, make sure you have a section created. You’ll want to use a proper H2 heading for your “Course Requirements” text. It should be styled automatically using CSS and your theme or manually using specific color and font attributes. The style will specify things like font type, font size, font color, background color.

Second, create the list holder. To do this, use an unordered list (UL) in HTML which will create a bulleted list.

Finally, insert the specific requirements. Each requirement bullet will be an HTML List Item (LI).

Be thoughtful about the order of the list of items. In some cases, you may want to list items in priority order over sequential or alphabetical order.

Once you create your requirements section, don’t forget to verify it on different browsers, desktop computers, tablets, and mobile phones. Also, make sure it looks good in horizontal and vertical orientations.

Create Course Requirements Using A Bulleted List

Many course requirement lists use typical black, round, medium-sized bullets.

Use an ideal bullet color based on your course theme. We recommend you do this, and choose a high contrast color like a dark color on a light background to help with visibility.

Choose a color that has a positive connotation for your requirements such as green which often signals growth, success, and vitality.

Course requirements lists are good candidates for other types of bullet icons:

  • Checkmarks
  • Asterisks
  • Triangles
  • Arrowheads

You should also avoid symbols that look strange, expensive, unfamiliar, or grab too much attention.

Once you figure out your bullet symbol, you should be able to set a common CSS style or theme so that the same bullet type, color, font is used for every bullet. This common style can help your course look very high-end and professional.

Specify Optional For Recommended Items

Some of your creative course requirements may be optional. Thus students do not require it but it would be nice to have.

Examples of optional items could include:

  • Sewing machine
  • Adobe Lightroom software
  • A food processor
  • A music sheet stand

You should let your prospects know if any of your requirements are optional with a clear (Optional) note.

An optional requirement example:

  • Cutting board (Optional)

Ways to specify optional requirements:

  • Optional
  • Optional but not required
  • Helpful but you can substitute
  • Used in some of the exercises

Some courses give away bonuses that may be dependencies for the course. For example, I’ve seen drum course Drumeo give away drum practice pads to entice course buyers.

Should You Add Requirements To Your Side Bar?

Some course sales pages utilize a prominent side bar with key class information. And while it may be easy to add requirements to your class info side bar, we recommend against it.

Furniture Design Course

You should use your side bar for overview information about your class without any exceptions.

Your class side bar should contain items like:

  • Skill level of course
  • Total Reviews
  • Number of Lessons
  • Total minutes or hours of courses
  • Lifetime access to course materials

So if you have real requirements that you need to list, we recommend putting them in a requirements section or within the FAQ section.

What if You Dont Use A Course Requirements Section?

It’s okay to not require a course requirements section if you don’t need one.   Some students could consider the course requirements section noise that maybe just gets in the way of the core information and buy buttons for a course.

In fact, having a very light course requirements section suggests that almost anybody can take this course. Using a few brief requirements is perfect for when the course Learning System or course Marketplace requires you to have a requirements section.

As a creative teacher, if you have very light prerequisites, you can place them in the overview, who is this course for, or FAQ section.

Not Being Upfront About Class Requirements

If you aren’t upfront with your prospective students when they require certain equipment in order to take your course this could lead to a variety of problems.

Students can get frustrated in the middle of the course because they aren’t able to follow along or do what you are teaching them in the lesson.

Other customers could end up requesting a refund or canceling the course within just a few hours or days of signing up.

Worst of all some students could end up writing bad comments or reviews about your course which can affect your future revenues course revenues.

Using A Frequently Asked Questions Section For Requirments

If you don’t have a requirement section or only have a few items, some online course teachers utilize the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section instead.

Within your FAQ, you can list 1 or 2 questions around what is required to take this course.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about requirements:

  • What skill level do I need to be to take this course?
  • What software do I need to take this course?
  • What tools and equipment do I need to take this course?

To learn more about using FAQs to handle requirement questions check out Frequently Asked Questions for Creative Course Sales.

Flipping The Requirements As Positive

In some cases, requirements are limiting so some teachers prefer to flip the requirements into what’s included or course features

So instead of saying you need a phone or a tablet you can say this course support access on phones and tablets

This approach provides a more positive what you get approach to selling your courses. So students are seeing a list of all the things they get

Here are some locations where you can list your inverted requirements:

Editing Your Lessons To Reduce Student Requirements

It is possible that you can edit some classes in such a way to reduce requirements or make them an optional minority.

Doing this may make the class slightly more appealing for some course buyers. Especially those who are risk-averse.

However, you really need to think about if watering down your class for some will make it less appealing to your ideal customer avatar.

Dont List Obvious Requirements

You don’t want to list all the obvious things that people need just to create a requirements list. Creating a long requirements list of every possible dependency should not be your goal. You should only list real requirements or true optional items.

Do not list common household items like:

  • Pens
  • Paper
  • Scissors

Do not list common secondary components like:

  • Speaker for your device
  • Keyboard or mouse
  • Phone with camera

If you aren’t sure if students are struggling with your course content due to their prior skills and experience, consider adding a course survey. The survey will let you know your customer background and if they had trouble understanding or taking your lessons. For more information, see Using Class Surveys To Grow Your Sales.

What If Requirements Scare Away My Students?

Not being honest and sharing the real requirements of your course could create adverse effects on your online course business.

You are better off being upfront about some of the requirements so that the students that do buy your course are satisfied customers, learned what they wanted, and write positive reviews about your course in the arts.

If you are really concerned and on the fence about whether to write a full list of requirements or not then you can consider listing a short set of essential requirements. You can also supplement with expandable content in the FAQ section.

Use A/B Testing For Course Sales Pages Content

If you are not sure what is the perfect set of requirements to list for your course you can try to offer different options over time.

One way to do this is to simply edit your course requirements. You can add, modify, or remove your requirements over time to see how that affects attracting leads as well as your course purchases. This manual approach doesn’t require any additional technology systems, you just simply change the text. Be sure to keep good notes with the dates and the copy so that you can see your performance for each version.

Some advanced technologies let you actually create more than one online course sales page and some percentage of customers see page A, while the other percentage see the page B version. Over time, you will see which content is the winner by converting more customers. You can then make this your primary content.

How Are The Best Courses Using Requirements?

The best courses are using a short list of real hard requirements instead of a long reminder list of dependencies. 

They often don’t focus on the specific skills required since that is covered by the title, description, and the outline of the course.

The best courses use a short list of hardware, software, and distinct accesseries in their requirements.

This way most students that are looking for your course will satisfy their essential course requirements.

For example a Photoshop course could list:

  • A Desktop computer
  • Internet access
  • Adobe Photoshop (including Photoshop Express, Photoshop Camera)

Best Tip For Your Course Requirement Section

Our best course requirements tip is to leverage a frequently asked questions section.

This allows you to answer any objections without wasting a lot of real estate and scarying off interested students.

Using a FAQ allows you to utilize the majority of your online course sales page real estate with the most effective content to help convince prospects.

Conclusion: Online Course Requirements

Course requirements are useful to some prospective customers that want to be sure they can fully make the most of the course.

Often course requirements are just a short list of 2 to 3 items. And when course requirements are typical, you can just include them in the FAQ section.

You don’t want to use course requirements to scare away your creative students. However, they can help you lock in customers that are looking to verify a perfect match before buying your course.

If it makes sense, flag requirements as optional instead of mandatory.

Now that you know the basics, decide if your course would benefit, and just get it done. You may see more students sign up and fewer cranky reviews.

Need More Hand Holding?

We can help you out with your online course sales page including auditing your overview, curriculum, teacher info, benefits frequently asked questions, your course requirements. and more. To learn more check out Analyze Your Course Sales Page.

Our Tech On Demand services help creative professionals who teach with everything technical.

Business owners can have their tech work 100%, use free time to create, and grow with real results.

This includes technical help planning, setting up, maintaining, troubleshooting, analyzing, and optimizing all your online courses, membership communities, and coaching websites.

creative professional planning a course with consultant


Turn your vision into steps and technical blueprint

Set Up

Configure, upload, and launch your new products & services

analysts reviewing tech platform as part of maintenance plan


Monitor, check, update, backup, and secure your systems


Fix platform issues and student tech-support problems

analysts reviewing tech platform as part of maintenance plan


Audit your sales pages, content experience, and configurations

creative professional planning a course with consultant


Get better results by using tech to grow revenues and reduce costs

Help Made Specifically for Creative Teachers

Get our Artsy Course Experts tips newsletter with articles, tools, and resources.

You'll get actionable tactics on making, selling, operating, and growing your courses.

Join now and you'll also get our Course Growth Checklist with dozens of quick tips to grow your student base and total earnings.

PS. We'll never sell your info, never send spam, and you can stop anytime.