What Is Long Distance Learning?

Long distance learning allows students to complete high school, continuing education and college courses without physically being on campus. Classes may be taken online, through audio or videocassette instruction or by mail.

Long Distance Learning Options

Long distance learning, also called distance education, allows students to earn course credits at the high school and college levels without setting foot on campus. Distance education programs are available in nearly every discipline, from English and mathematics to anthropology and neurobiology. At the college level, students can earn associate's, bachelor's, master's and even doctorate degrees through long distance learning programs.

Distance education courses can be taken online, through audio or video tapes, through the mail or using a combination of methods. Some programs combine off-site learning with on-site instruction by requiring students to take a few classes or complete exams on campus. Many long distance learning programs allow students to complete course work at their own pace, while others use synchronous technology, such as Web or video conferencing, to deliver lectures or course materials while all class members are online.

Long distance learning programs are a popular, convenient option for students who are unable to take traditional classes. According to a study by the National Center for Education Statistics, over 5.5 million students took at least one online course in the fall of 2013.

Important Facts About Long Distance Learning

Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent
Programs 4-year and 2-year degrees, 1-year (or shorter) diploma programs
Common Courses Most programs, no matter their field, require general education core courses in areas including: arts, humanities, foreign languages, and natural sciences
Continuing Education In addition to degree and diploma programs, some schools also offer courses that count towards continuing education requirements for working professionals


When choosing a long distance learning program, it's important to make sure the program is accredited. This will ensure that your degree will be accepted by other reputable organizations and institutions. Long distance learning programs should be accredited by an agency recognized by the United States Department of Education (DoED) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

The Distance Education Accrediting Commision accredits long distance learning programs and institutions, exclusively. This agency is recognized by both the DoED and CHEA.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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