Close Request Information

As a prospective online student of Sotheby’s Institute – Online Learning, we know you have questions about how your online course will work. This page will provide you with information on the general structure and technology of our online courses, as well as tips for how to succeed as an online student. You can also watch our short video below to see an online experience in action.

Course Structure
Your course takes place entirely online in Sotheby’s Institute’s custom-designed learning platform – Canvas. Canvas is an intuitive, self-contained environment that requires no plug-ins or software downloads and provides the organization and flexibility for you to be a successful student.

Once you log into Canvas, you will have access to a variety of materials for each week’s lessons. Here are some of the types of materials you can expect.


  • A course introduction and welcome from your instructor
  • Instructor-narrated lectures with closed-captioning
  • Supplementary videos from online sources

Text and Image:

  • Written lectures
  • PDF readings provided from various textbooks and publications
  • Articles from online sources
  • Image galleries

Interactive Learning 

  • Direct feedback from instructors
  • Weekly discussion boards to communicate questions and answers with your instructor and other students


  • Podcast recordings with professionals in the field
  • Audio recordings from online sources


  • Short written assignments
  • Required discussion boards
  • Short quizzes
  • Peer review projects
  • Projects completed individually or as part of a team

At the beginning of each week your instructor frames the core concepts using a variety of the above materials. While courses will vary in the types of materials used, they are structured with a consistent format and pace from week to week so the lessons are easy to follow. The material can be concentrated in areas, and as many instructors and online alumni can attest, being able to rewind, pause and replay any lecture allows for greater retention of the material. This structure empowers you to reach the learning objectives specific to your course and have a comfortable and collaborative experience.

Throughout the course, your faculty are with you every step of the way. You are encouraged to ask questions and raise important points with them and your fellow classmates. Instructors will answer your questions and give feedback through the discussion boards. This is a key component of the learning process and the more you can engage with your instructor and other learners, the more productive and enjoyable your learning experience will be.

Staying on Track

As your course can be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it takes an independent, organized and motivated learner to get the most out of the flexible online learning environment. Our students say time management is crucial. Before your course starts, we provide strategies for staying on track and for avoiding pitfalls.

If you are planning today for an online Sotheby’s Institute of Art course, ask yourself if you have 5-7 hours each week for a 6-week course and 9-11 hours a week for an 8-week course to dedicate to your studies. There is no set class time, so many of our students tend to log on 3 - 4 times a week for two hours or more to stay engaged with the class discussion boards and the course materials.


We want you to succeed! Try answering yes or no to the statements below to evaluate if the online learning experience is right for you:

  • I am willing to ask for the help I need for my courses by asking questions of other students and the instructor.
  • I feel comfortable expressing my ideas and questions in writing and have successfully done so using email, discussion boards, and/or social media in the past.
  • I have the technology, such as a reliable computer and Internet access, necessary to participate in an online course.
  • With guidance, I am willing to try to learn new computer technologies and I understand how to read and follow technical instructions to accomplish new tasks.

Getting Ready

To make sure your first day of online learning is a success, we require an up-to-date web browser such as: Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Internet Explorer. For more detailed information, please see the Canvas guides for supported browsers and basic computer specifications.

While most of SIA’s online courses can be accessed on a mobile or tablet device, we strongly encourage you to have access to a reliable computer and internet connection for certain course components. Former students have told us it is easiest to read discussion threads and complete written assignments on a laptop or desktop computer.

For technical support, please email or by using the “Help” button within Canvas navigation. We are ready to help!

You can also access the Canvas Student Guide. It is a complete knowledge base of the learning management system.

How It Works Online Learning - How It Works


Continue Exploring

Online Courses Faculty FAQs Student Stories Request Information