Guide to Distance Learning Schools
DistanceLearningSchools.org provides helpful information on distance learning programs and online education. Colleges and universities that offer online courses and degree programs are also known as distance learning schools. A distance learning degree is any degree for which students are not required to be present or on campus for some or all of their courses. Over the past 30 years, distance learning schools have become one of the most popular ways to earn a degree. That is especially true in an era where the internet makes it possible to complete classes from your home.
Course materials are sent to the students primarily over the internet but may also be sent through the mail or even in video format. Though students are not required to attend classes in person, the coursework is just as demanding as a traditional class. These courses still require that you pass the proper exams; the only difference is the format in which you take them. Some may be done over the internet, while some professors may require students to take them in person or at an approved testing center. Below are some featured online schools that provide distance learning programs.
||Kaplan University —
Kaplan University has over 70 majors to choose from with almost 200 specializations available. This makes it easy to find the degree program that is right for you. Kaplan University is one of the nation’s largest online schools with over 53,000 students enrolled currently. More importantly, Kaplan is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
||Liberty University —
Liberty University is the nation’s largest Christian school. It also has one of the largest online divisions devoted to providing quality education that follows the same academic integrity as the traditional classes. They offer over 140 online programs, ranging from bachelor to doctoral degrees, and are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
||Ashford University —
If you are looking for distance learning programs from a well-respected school, Ashford University has almost 70 programs at the associate, bachelor, and master-degree level. Ashford University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission, 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501, 510-748-9001, wascsenior.org.
||Grand Canyon University —
Grand Canyon University is a highly-rated school that offers almost 50 online programs. These programs can be completed from your home with no campus visitation required, perfect for those with family or career obligations. GCU has regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
||South University —
With over 1600 online courses and degrees, South University has one of largest selection of programs for anyone interested in online education. These programs are especially well-suited for working professionals who want to earn their degree and advance their careers. South University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
||Northcentral University —
You do not have to live near one of the 90 campuses across the U.S. in order to earn your degree from Northcentral University. Technology and accreditation makes it possible to earn your degree online from your home PC at your convenience. NCU is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
||Walden University —
Walden University is an online school focused on providing quality distance learning programs. Choose from over 50 majors to find a program that adds flexibility and convenience to your work schedule and personal life. Walden is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Advantages to Distance Learning
There are many advantages that come along with earning your college degree online. For students who work, have families, or other scheduling conflicts that interfere with attending traditional classes, it offers them the flexibility to go to school anywhere and at any time. This provides students with the convenience of working their coursework in around other demands in their lives. Other benefits include studying from the comfort of your own home, not having to commute to and from classes, and not paying for gas or parking fees.
One of the most important factors to consider when looking into distance learning programs is whether or not the school is properly accredited. Accreditation can be regional or national, but the college or university must be accredited in order for the degree to be valid and accepted by most employers. Accreditation shows that the school has completed all of the necessary steps in order to prove that they provide a complete educational program and that their degrees are legitimate. Accreditation status can typically be found on the school’s website or by contacting them directly, or you can visit the U.S. Department of Education to check the accreditation of any school.
What are the Different Types of Distance Learning Schools?
Distance learning degrees, like traditional degrees, can be separated into undergraduate and graduate levels. The colleges offering distance learning degrees can be categorized as follows:
- State colleges
- Private institutes
- Specialized colleges
- Community colleges
- Associate colleges
Distance learning degrees offered by colleges can be categorized as:
- Associate’s Degree
- Bachelor’s Degree
- Master’s Degree
- Doctoral Degree
- Certificate programs
The subjects that can be taught through distance learning can also vary in many subjects. The major categories of degrees which can be given through distance learning are:
- Other categories
The course curriculum of distance learning degrees can be somewhat different from the traditional on-campus courses. One of the major differences between the two is the fact that the distance learning student must make their own schedule and adhere to it. It requires students to have strong time management skills in order to complete their work on time. On the other side, the traditional student has course times chosen for them and a teacher to make sure he or she sticks with them.
What Kinds of Financial Aid are Available for Colleges Offering Distance Learning Degrees?
There are several different types of financial aid available for students pursuing their degree via distance learning. Although some online programs may have lower costs associated with them than traditional programs, education can still be very expensive. For this reason, students should look into all of their financial aid options to see what type of funding they qualify for.
Funding can come in many forms: loans, grants, scholarships, fellowships, tuition reimbursement, work-study programs, and more. The first place to start is by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application will assess how much government funding a student is entitled to and in what form, dependent on the student’s financial history and need. Students should also check with their schools to see what type of aid is available and how to apply.
Depending on the course of study, students may be able to find various organizations and groups that offer grants and scholarships for a specific field of study. Grants offered by the government are usually based on the financial need of the student and do not have to be repaid. Scholarships can be awarded for academic achievement, a special skill or sport, based on an essay, and more and also do not have to be repaid. Some employers encourage students to return to school to complete their degree or to achieve a higher-level degree by offering them a tuition reimbursement program to cover the costs of school usually in exchange of the student working for that company for a certain amount of time.
Loans are another way to receive funding to help pay for school. Though loans do have to be paid back, they offer students a way to pay for college without having to come up with the money up front. Lenders generally offer generous time periods in order to pay off the full amount, and students should also shop around to find the lowest interest rate possible to lessen the repayment amount.
What are the Common Factors to Consider When Selecting a Distance Learning School?
The factors important to selecting a distance learning degree are as follows:
- Accreditation agency
- Degrees offered
- College reputation
- Student support
- Industry exposure possibilities
- Post degree student support
- Availability of counseling
- Relevance of curriculum to career options
- Fee structure
- Study material availability