What are the Different Options for Graduate Distance Learning?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2019
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There are a number of options available for graduate distance learning programs. Many distance learning programs utilize partial distance learning options, such as low residency programs that require attendance at the school for only one or two weeks, or offer some online classes but still require students attend other classes at the school. There are other graduate distance learning programs that allow students to receive a degree without ever physically being present at the school, such as programs that involve only online classes or programs available through related schools.

In general, graduate distance learning programs typically consist of either programs that require partial attendance or those that involve no attendance. Distance learning usually consists of a program that allows students to attend classes and complete coursework through unconventional methods that do not require a student be present in a classroom. Partial attendance graduate distance learning programs often involve either low residency programs or coursework that can be taken partially online.


Low residency graduate distance learning programs, often called “low res” programs, require students be present in classes for the first week or two of a semester. After this, the rest of the semester typically does not require any physical presence at the college or university; further correspondence with professors and other students is done through the Internet. There are also graduate distance learning programs that allow students to attend some classes in person, while other classes are offered online. These types of programs have become increasingly popular, as they allow students to attend online classes when they can, while still having classes on campus that enable students to interact with professors and other students.

There are also graduate distance learning programs that can be attended without the students ever being present on a school campus. Some of these programs are offered completely online, and students interact with each other and with professors through Internet bulletin boards, user groups, and email. Care should be taken by anyone interested in such programs, however, as some disreputable online schools have been established to scam students out of their money.

A graduate distance learning program can also be offered through an associated school. This type of program may require that students attend “classes” at a local school, where they watch a live broadcast of classes being taught at a distant school. This allows students to attend the classes they want, with professors and other students, without having to be physically near the school where the professors are currently teaching classes.


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