What Are the Benefits of Distance Education?

Distance education typically refers to college classes that are delivered online. Distance education is becoming increasingly popular at colleges all over the U.S.

Benefits of Distance Education

According to a report from the Babson Survey Research Group, more than 86% of U.S. colleges and universities had some online offerings as of 2012, and more than 62% offered full certificate and degree programs. There are several benefits to taking college classes online.

Important Facts About Distance Education

Delivery Methods What fits your needs?
Fully online Coursework is delivered and completed solely via Internet.
Hybrid Coursework is completed partially on campus and partially online.
Self-paced Start and finish a course at any time. Sometimes these courses must be finished within a certain length of time.
Directed, or Term-Based Courses have specific start and end dates.


Distance education courses can be completed anywhere there's a computer and an Internet connection. This can be convenient for students who travel often or who simply prefer to stay at home.

Distance education also provides educational options beyond what is locally available. Many people, particularly those in rural areas, have limited access to colleges and universities. Distance learning allows potential students to select courses from a broad range of schools across the country. Distance education also makes a college education more accessible to those who can't leave their homes for extended periods, such as stay-at-home parents or the physically disabled.


Some distance education courses are streamed live, occurring at set times. However, many classes are offered as downloadable video or audio lectures or as interactive web pages. These classes can be completed at any time of the day, at the student's own pace. This makes college courses easier for students who work during normal college hours. Downloading video of a class also means it can be viewed more than once. This can benefit students who need to review a particular subject.


Many of the costs a student encounters while pursuing a college degree are reduced or eliminated with the use of distance education. Gas and car maintenance isn't needed to take a distance education course. On-campus housing is also not an issue. Many classes use online study materials, so students may need fewer expensive college textbooks. Tuition fees per credit, however, are usually comparable to on-site college tuition.

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