Online Learning

Online learning, also known as distance education, is a great way to experience the U.S. education system without leaving home. U.S. institutions offer a variety of full-time degree programs at undergraduate and graduate levels as well as individual courses. Classes are facilitated through a variety of methods, including websites, mobile apps, email, telephones, and more. To receive credit from a U.S. institution for distance learning, the student usually pays a tuition fee. 

There are options now available for online learning such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that are usually tuition-free, but in most cases do not offer credit.  The U.S. Department of State also facilitates a free in-person MOOC Camp program in many countries.

In addition to full-time degree programs or individual courses, some U.S. institutions of higher education offer part-time blended programs that may be partially online and require occasional on-campus attendance, called "low-residency programs."

Students taking full-time online programs are not eligible for U.S. student visas but, when short-term U.S. attendance is required for low residency programs, a student visa is needed. Students attending a U.S. university in person for full-time degree study and who are also enrolled in any online courses should speak with the institution's Designated School Official (DSO) in the International Student and Scholar Office to ensure visa compliance.

Why do students enroll in distance education?

  • They have childcare or eldercare obligations.
  • They cannot take time away from their current jobs to enhance their future employment possibilities.
  • The program may be offered at a location that is not feasible to attend for economic, cultural, or political reasons.

Consider the following:

  • How long has the institution been enrolling students in this program?
  • How often and through what means is the program and curriculum reviewed?
  • What is the average length of time it takes for a student to complete this program?
  • Where can you find evaluations of this program?
  • What types of employment do graduates of this program find?
  • Will this program be recognized in your home country or by employers?