Good distance learning schools?
March 15, 2006 6:02 AM   Subscribe

Please help me find a respectable university where I can finish my bachelor's degree via distance learning (preferrably online).

I have an Associate's degree in Liberal Studies and somewhere around 3 years of college credits, but I want to finally finish my Bachelor's degree. I'm leaning towards a Business Management or Administration degree, possibly with a focus on international business.

Attending a brick and mortar school for this is somewhat difficult because I travel a lot and don't plan on being in one place long enough to meet physical residency requirements, hence my desire to find a distance learning school.

My google searches mostly turn up diploma mills or colleges such as University of Phoenix or ITT, which don't impress me much. I'm a fairly intelligent guy and scored in the 99%ile on my ACTs and 97%ile on my SATs and have mostly gotten very good grades throughout high school and college, with the exception of having to drop or withdraw from some college classes due to work conflicts when I was working in Silicon Valley as a computer geek.

What respectable brick and mortar schools also offer online degrees? I've been looking at some of the SUNY schools, such as Empire State College, but don't know much about them.

I do realize that the quality of an online education will differ significantly from that of classroom instruction but I'm willing to make that sacrifice.

I'm also interested in how receiving a degree from such an institution will affect my chances of acceptance to a resident MBA program at a decent university in the states. Will my degree matter as much as my work experience and GMAT scores?

Thanks in advance, AskMe! You're the bestest!
posted by cactus to Education (16 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: University of London (UK) has a very respectable distance learning program, and the individual degree programs are surprisingly affordable. They offer bachelor's and master's degrees, as well as certificate programs.
posted by jayder at 6:07 AM on March 15, 2006

I'm very interested in the upcoming answers to this question. I have around 100 US university credit hours under my belt, but I'm living in Europe right now. I'd really like to finish up my degree without having to go back to the States. I'd also like to get an undergrad degree that would allow me to pursue graduate-level studies after I'm finished. Thanks for asking this question, cactus.
posted by syzygy at 6:14 AM on March 15, 2006

Best answer: Athabasca University in Canada is a completely online school. It has a good reputation and has accreditation in the United States. I don't know if their programs would be what you're looking for, but it's one to consider, anyway.

posted by nyxie at 6:32 AM on March 15, 2006

You may also want to check out Bears' Guide to Earning Degrees
by Distance Learning
, mentioned in one of the threads linked above.
posted by youarenothere at 6:45 AM on March 15, 2006

Best answer: If you will consider UK Universities then the Open University has to be considered. You can build up distance learning modules to gain sufficient credits, they'll take into account previous learning, and have a lot of experience in doing so. Modules are designed specifically for distance learning delivery as the basis of the University is to offer a chance for working people and those who missed out on higher education to gain a degree. They have ~150,000 distance learning students at any one time. The university is subject to the same accreditation process as any other UK H.E. institution and to the same checks on quality. It has continually scored high marks in quality assessment for its teaching. The university also recently scored the highest marks for any UK institution in a recent national survey of student satisfaction.
These courses are available to someone in the US.
syzygy: This page will take you to courses available in different countries. This is for Austria. There tend to be more available courses in Europe.
(Full disclosure: My PhD is from the OU but I have no current position there.)
posted by biffa at 6:46 AM on March 15, 2006

I mean, mentioned in a thread not linked above, lo siento!
posted by youarenothere at 6:46 AM on March 15, 2006

I second the Athabasca University suggestion.

I have taken courses from them, and I know several people with BAdmin, BA & MA degrees that took at least a few courses for credit with them. They are fully a accredited Univeristy and have a campus in Alberta. They have different online styles (learn @ your own pace, weekly class-style conferences, etc) depending on what fits you best and what subject matter you are studying. They match you up with tutors for each class that you can call tool-free or e-mail and gget one-on-one instruction like if you set up an appointment with your instructor in a brick-and-mortor University.
posted by raedyn at 6:51 AM on March 15, 2006

Best answer: The University of Illinois offers online degrees.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:15 AM on March 15, 2006

Distance education at the University of Waterloo; during my MA program there I did some distance-ed course development as part of my TA work.
posted by mcwetboy at 8:13 AM on March 15, 2006

Two New York State Colleges:
Empire State College
Excelsior College
posted by chocolatepeanutbuttercup at 8:59 AM on March 15, 2006

Best answer: My university has a very large distance education program, and several business degrees completely online. My email is in the profile.
posted by LarryC at 9:43 AM on March 15, 2006

I was wondering the same thing, and I have one minor thing to say:
The University of Phoenix is not an online-only school like they claim to be. I was very disappointed to find out that during their 10 week (or was it 5 week?) semester, you have to be physically IN a classroom for the first and final classes. To me that is not an online class. That is a "show up twice" class. I was very disappointed to find out they misrepresented themselves in that way.
posted by denimflavored at 11:25 AM on March 15, 2006

I have a BA and an MS from traditional a traditional college and university.

I have my second bachelor's degree from University of Maryland, University College in Computer and Information Services.

I thought they handled themselves well. Classes are semester style (16 weeks long) and most had mid-terms (open book) and finals (proctored, closed- or open-book). Also, UMUC has been around of a while and is part of a respected State university system.

While it isn't cheap out of state, it compares pretty well with name-brand colleges that aren't offering completely online degrees.

I know several people who are getting their MS or MA through UMUC. They seem as educated and perhaps more motivated than many of the people from my traditional MS program.

Good luck. Just don't expect that it is going to be easier to do this online. The only thing I found different was the flexibilty of participation. Not having to be somewhere at a specific time for class really fits into my work/family needs.

As for the final question, I think that is something to ask an admission counselor from the chosen institution.
posted by mshellenberger at 1:00 PM on March 15, 2006

Warning about UK schools - if you're used to the workload of US schools (and especially community college) - watch out! UK schools have significantly larger reading lists and few opportunities to make the grade. My MA program right now includes 6 total essays, 3 exams and a dissertation and that is ALL that I will be scored on. And they are extremely tough graders.

I would not recommend doing a UK degree online if you're accustomed to the US system without significant support that you can only get in person. (Although a perk of the UK system is that it is shorter and cheaper -- but it won't transfer your credits.)

(I have a US undergrad degree and am attending a masters program in the UK.)

However, a TON of universities are offering distance ed degrees now-a-days... it isn't important that they advertise as distance ed... rather, pick a program that you like, type in that name, for example "international business" or "business management" and distance as the keywords.

I bet you'll find tons of different programs.

At that point, e-mail all of the admin assistants and see who gives you the most attention. Wander around their websites. Ask to e-mail other students.

That way, you're going to the best program for you, which just happens to be online.

Also, another 2 cents item -- I took an econ class online last summer in preperation for my MA. I immediately discovered that I SUCK at online classes. I'd suggest taking 1 to get the feel of it -- is it really worth your time to do something online if you won't get as much out of it?
posted by k8t at 3:31 PM on March 15, 2006

Response by poster: I want to thank everyone for your excellent answers, you've been a lot of help.

denimflavored: that's strange - I'd actually signed up with UoP while deployed to Afghanistan and so there would have been no possible way for me to attend a first or final class in person. Perhaps they make exceptions for military students. I ended up having to drop out anyway because even though my chain of command promised me they wouldn't send me anywhere without internet access during the 5 weeks of my class, three days prior to the start of the class I was sent on a four week mission in the middle of nowhere with - you guessed it - no internet access.

k8t: I spent fifth through eigth grade in a German Gymnasium, and when I returned to the states to start my freshman year at one of the highest rated public high schools in California, I was surprised that I was surrounded, essentially, by students who hadn't even begun to grasp what I'd been taught in sixth and seventh grade in Germany. If I go with one of the European universities, I'll definitely expect to have to work harder. Also, I know that online classes (I've taken a couple) are quite different than classroom education. I'd prefer classroom instruction because I get more out of the discussions, but it's a compromise I have to make.

I am also a little confused about the different levels of education for the European institutions mentioned, so I have a bit more research to do there.

(Not that it really matters, but I'm out of the army in 42 days and am looking forward to spending $55400 of the army's U.S. taxpayer's money on my education, and want to get the most out of it.) :)
posted by cactus at 11:28 PM on March 15, 2006

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