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Research online and distance education

Research online and distance education

Distance education offers an opportunity to continue or complete your education without a traditional campus classroom.

  • While it isn't for everyone, it is a great alternative for non-traditional students and working adults.
  • If you're a self-motivated and independent learner, distance education might be an option.
  • It's a convenient way for many adults to mesh a full-time or part-time job, family obligations, and other commitments with education.
  • You can earn a bachelor's, master's, or doctorate degree in almost every field imaginable.

Accreditation and regulations

  • Colleges offering distance education programs must follow laws and regulations that the U.S. Department of Education has established for these programs.
  • Don't forget to check with the college to find out about their accreditation and state licensing standards.
  • Know what your state licensing organizations require for your particular field before you choose a school.

There are two types of distance education programs:

  • Correspondence: are subject to certain restrictions
    • No more than 50 percent of a school's programs may be offered through correspondence study
    • No more than 50 percent of a school's regular students may be enrolled in correspondence programs.
  • Telecommunications
    • Under the Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005 (HERA), telecommunications programs are no longer considered correspondence courses
    • They are treated in the same way as traditional residential programs.

Pay for online and distance education

Higher education costs money, whether it is a program on a traditional campus or an online or distance education program.

If you know you're going to need financial assistance, your first step is to apply for federal financial aid by completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

  • You can complete the FAFSA online or get the paper form from the financial aid office at the school you are considering attending.
  • The FAFSA determines your eligibility for federal financial aid programs, as well as some state and institutional programs.

Be sure to research how you can pay for college. Check with the financial aid office of the school you're considering attending for information specific to your program.