What Is a Self-Paced Distance Education Program?

Self-paced distance education allows students to get through classes or modules as quickly or slowly as they like. Many for-credit programs set a minimum and maximum length of time allowed for completion.

Self-Paced Distance Education Defined

Distance education programs are self-paced when they allow students to complete sections of work within (or possibly without) a maximum time limit. The traditional correspondence course is an example of this. You may enroll at any point, and you can often finish a typical course in less than 15 weeks or up to one year.

Important Facts About Self-Paced Distance Education Programs

Prerequisites Varies, depending upon program or purpose of enrolling in course; proficiency with English spelling, grammar and style is required
Programs of Study English, chemistry, mathematics, philosophy, psychology, religion, sociology, to name a few
Possible Careers Construction manager, photographer, secretary, insurance appraiser, fashion designer, business operations specialist
Continuing Education Typically voluntary, but may help with career advancement; for example, administrative assistants with only a certificate might pursue an associate's degree

Schools Offering Self-Paced Distance Education

The colleges and universities listed below are reputable, accredited, non-profit schools with self-paced distance education programs. Consider the following for single course offering or entire degree programs:

  • University of Colorado at Boulder's Independent Learning program offers self-paced courses in numerous subject areas. These courses may be taken online.
  • University of North Carolina system's ten universities offer self-paced college courses online or by mail. Students may complete a three-credit course in a minimum of 12 weeks.
  • Penn State World Campus hews to a regular academic schedule for most courses, so most homework assignments and tests must be completed by a specific time. These self-paced offerings use DVDs, written material and Internet-based communication for instruction.
  • Independent Study in Idaho is a collaboration of four state colleges and universities. ISI offers self-paced distance education in library science, as well as continuing education courses for K-12 educators.
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Extended Education programs enroll students from the high school level through the doctorate level. Independent Study High School is self-paced, as are many of the degree and certificate programs and most of the continuing education courses. They also have a self-study package for para-educators.
  • The University of Georgia offers a variety self-paced courses for academic credit. Although no degree programs are offered, these courses may count toward a degree if you later enroll at the university. Courses are available in 18 subject areas.

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:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Kaplan University

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    • Master

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