Prospective students can tour Northeastern's 160 campus buildings in three dimensions from their computer.

It doesn’t require airfare or gas money, and students think it’s cool: Three-dimensional virtual campus tours have launched at seven colleges and universities, providing a welcomed alternative to the often-pricey college visit.

CampusBird.com provides Google Map-based layouts of about 4,800 U.S. college campuses, and the Boulder, Colo., company has created a virtual 3D tour for seven higher-ed institutions, allowing prospective students to scroll through any structure on campus and view it almost as they would in a traditional fact-packed tour led by a student guide.

Northeastern University, a 20,000-student campus in Boston, added CampusBird’s 3D tour model to its web site in November, and Northeastern officials said the mere presence of a 3D tour could be a valuable recruitment tool.

Avoiding the costs of campus visits, officials said, also could be appealing for families during tough economic times.

Read the full story on eCampus News