Learning by Distance Education is a very viable educational option for many people. More universities and colleges than ever before are offering not only specific individual educational courses via distance learning but many degree (Bachelor, Masters and even some Doctoral) options are available through distance education courses. Some institutions require a short-term campus residence (i.e. one week per semester) while other courses have no residence requirement.
Many students will use the Distance Education options to fulfill some of their general education class requirements, thus shortening the time they must spend on a US campus while pursuing their degree. A working individual may not have the time available to travel to the US to pursue a degree or take specific course work. Distance Education allows one to work at their own pace from their own home.
There are numerous courses and degree options that can be pursued through distance learning. While you are researching the courses available, it is necessary to seek the answers to the following questions either from the institutional materials made available to you or by direct questioning of the program admissions personnel.
Questions You Need Answered
- Is the institution accredited and by whom? Is the accrediting association recognized by the US Department of Education or CHEA (Council for Higher Education Accreditation)? (it is important to note that if the institution is not regionally accredited, you may have difficulty having the degree recognized by other universities and employers.)
- If not regionally accredited, what transfer institutions or employers have accepted its credits and credentials?
- Are there any residency requirements?
- How long has this program been enrolling students?
- What other institutions offer similar programs and do they grant the same credential for similar work?
- What have graduates of this program done with their credentials?
- How are course materials made available to students?
- Where can the qualifications and current professional activity of the faculty be found in writing?
- What academic, linguistic, and technical skills does the institution require for students enrolling in this program?
- What equipment must I have access to and how will the institution help me in any problems that arise concerning the interface between my equipment and their offerings?
- What non-classroom services are provided for distance education students?
- Is there a student handbook for distance education students? If not where are these issues addressed?
- What is the institution’s refund policy if I should have to withdraw from this program?
- How can I assure outsiders that the degree represents an assessment of my work rather than that of someone else?
- What plan does the institution have for the continuation of this and other programs for the foreseeable future?
- Where is there official written representations of the faculty’s qualifications, the program’s course sequence and requirements, the nature of student/faculty interaction and assumptions about technical skills?
Websites for Distance Education
Distance Education & Training Council
The national accrediting commission for educational institutions that offer post-secondary distance learning and home study non-degree and degree courses through the master’s degree level.
Adult Education and Distance Learner’s Resource Center
They offer the Virtual University Gazette, a free email monthly that describes new academic and corporate distance learning programs and features on distance education.
Distance Education Clearinghouse
Distance education news plus more links.
Peterson’s Education Center
Use on-line databases to search for your ideal distance learning course; read articles on various distance learning topics.
United States Distance Learning Association
Register to scroll through thousands of online course listings offered by more
than 100 colleges; read up on financial aid.
Council for Higher Education Accreditation
Information on legitimate distance education options as well as other
accreditation and diploma mill information
E-mail Discussion Groups for Distance Education-Related Topics
International Discussion Forum for Distance Learning
On-line Chronicle of Distance Education and Communication