What is a distance learning degree

You’ve probably seen ads for online degrees all over the Internet by now, but you may be surprised to learn that an online degree is just one type of distance learning degree. A distance learning degree can be anything from a continuing education or trade certificate to an associate’s degree to a master’s degree, but it isn’t a new concept in education.

Distance Learning Degree: That was Then, This is Now

Distance education has been around for a long time; at least one U.S. distance learning program dates back almost 300 years. Distance education gained popularity in the 19th century as “correspondence school” — so called because students and teachers corresponded over long distances.

Today, however, “correspondence” students complete their distance learning degree programs wherever they can plug their laptops into a power source and connect to the WorldWideWeb. Using the Internet, live or prerecorded audio/video technology, conferencing technology like Blackboard, and even Twitter, distance learning students and teachers are bringing correspondence classes into real time.

The interesting thing about this 21st-century version of distance degree education: it still requires well-articulated correspondence! For those times when you can’t actually talk your teacher and fellow students, you have to be able to represent yourself, your ideas, and your questions in clear, thoughtful writing.

Distance Learning Degree Programs for Flexibility

Good, accredited distance learning degree programs are typically no easier than their classroom counterparts, but they are often more flexible with time. Most distance learning degree programs give students some opportunity to work on independently-completed tasks, replacing the scheduled bricks-and-mortar classroom with a relatively unscheduled classroom of one. The flexibility allows distance learning degree students to keep their jobs, if not as much of a social life as they would like.

Distance Learning Degree Programs for Cost Savings

Distance learning degree programs are not necessarily less expensive than their on-campus counterparts, but they do save on time (no more hours lost in commuting) and also on transportation costs, whether for public transportation or gas for the car. It’s also likely that distance learning degree reading and other study materials will be available electronically, cutting down on the hefty cost of textbooks. And as long as your distance learning degree school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education-approved accrediting agency, you should be able to get federal financial aid to help you pay for your degree.

Your Distance Learning Degree: Now is a Good Time

July 2009 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics demonstrated again that college pays off: even in a rocky economy, bachelor’s degree holders still earn roughly 60% more than workers with only a high school diploma. With more and more higher education institutions offering accredited online degrees, finding the right college degree program for your career and life goals gets easier every day. If you’ve lost your job or are not sure what to do next, a distance learning degree is a worthwhile investment.