5 leading US providers of online and distance education

“We need to bring learning to people instead of people to learning.” – Elliot Masie

Digitization has transformed the world. It is hard to picture a time free from computerized convenience, not to mention the daily struggles we would face without speedy Internet service, or 4G mobile networks. But the higher education landscape in particular has been revolutionized by the widespread implementation of digital workspaces.

More and more eager-eyed students are selecting online tools to enhance their learning experience, thriving off bitesize chunks of knowledge that are interactive and engaging. Not only this, but an increasing number of students are turning to digital platforms to earn world-class degrees from leading universities.

Today, more than 88 percent of the American population are active online users. This accounts for 8.4 percent of the world’s total Internet personas, with the average person spending around 135 minutes browsing the web each day throughout 2017. Just take a moment to process that. The impact of the computer and more specifically, the Internet, permeates the very core of contemporary life.

Recent research has assessed the capability of online, or eLearning, against more traditional teaching mediums. One of the most influential studies derives from the US Department of Education. In its report, the Department notes that “students who took all or part of their courses online performed better than those who took the same course solely in a traditional face-to-face environment”. But beyond the benefits of online education stretches far beyond student experience alone, producing graduates who are not only literate but fluent in the most cutting-edge technologies.

“Certainly, face-to-face courses integrate technology into the classroom, yet based on my own experience teaching both face-to-face and online courses, I pay more attention to the role of technology in my online courses,” writes Linnea Sudduth, a distance learning student, instructor and respected academic.

Sudduth notes that in her delivery of a professional and corporate communication course, the use of blogs, Wikis, Twitter, ePortfolios, instant messaging software, email, telephone and discussion boards is compulsory for both communication and assignments.

“And, as an online student, I used additional educational technologies, including social networking sites, podcasts, webcasts, webinars, virtual seminars and virtual worlds… I found the online discussion board enabled me (and others) to participate without being talked over, ignored, and/or intimidated by other, more vocal students,” Sudduth explains. “In other words, the technology enabled me to participate in a different, but not necessarily inferior way, than my face-to-face courses.”

But on top of this, online learning grants invaluable flexibility, giving students the chance to sculpt their degree around existing work commitments and future aspirations for a much more affordable price. Sound good? Here are 5 leading US providers of online and distance education…


As the flagship university of New Mexico, UNM boasts a long-held, global reputation of excellence. Here, graduate students benefit from nationally-reputed faculty and sought-after degrees, embodying a place where creativity and innovation flourish.

Online programs at UNM are presented through UNM Learn – a cutting-edge and campus-wide learning management system. Here, degrees are for-credit and inherently academic, taught by the institution’s experienced and respected faculty.

UNM online programs promise flexibility without compromising quality, empowering students with the same graduate outcomes found on more traditional degrees. Courses are offered in a flexible 8-week format, five times per year. Attending UNM online means you have the freedom to earn your degree while you continue to manage the demands of work and family obligations.

At UNM Online you will access course content and interact with peers through a range of multimedia technologies. Every module is delivered in its own unique style, blending to create a study experience free from global boundaries and borders.


Set amid the forest-filled wonders of Willamette Valley, conveniently close to the Pacific Ocean and the Cascade Mountains, UO is well known for its outstanding natural setting and elite education.

UO’s Distance Education is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Online courses are offered for a wide range of disciplines, giving students the chance to earn a degree from anywhere with Internet connection.

The university employs powerful web-based tools to elevate the learning experience. Courses are presented via the Canvas course management system, while some require students to take in-person, proctored exams.

UO’s Distance Education programs stick to the same term schedule as on-campus courses, and credits are awarded in the very same way. One thing that sets UO apart from both regional and global competition is that there is truly no difference between the online curriculum when compared to a classroom-based course.


OSU has shone on the education stage for almost 150 years. The OSU we see today represents one of the largest and most comprehensive in the US, serving as a platform for academic achievement and a lab for exploration.

OSU Online, ranked as the top Online Undergraduate Program by US News and World Report, prepares all student participants for lasting career success. Here, exceptional members of faculty prepare you to tackle some of the world’s most pressing issues, placing you among like-minded individuals whose potential knows no bounds.

“We’re committed to providing you valuable course content, which is why quality is part of our entire course development process,” the OSU website notes.

“Whether you’re looking to start, switch or advance in your career, our programs will prepare you with both the hard and soft skills necessary to make your next step.”


Founded in 1855, Penn State offers 100,000 students an experience rich in diversity and academic expertise.

The Penn State World Campus teaches 18,000 students, offering a quality, accessible education to students in all four corners of the globe. Those who earn their degree online at Penn State leave having developed unique ways of understanding, examining and applying education, consistently leading to long-term success in relevant, international careers.

The curriculum is flexible and faculty are renowned, allowing students to grow and develop in a supportive digital environment. Choose from more than 150 of the most in-demand degrees and certificates in higher education, including in education, business, engineering and more.

Graduates of Penn State World Campus become workplace trailblazers and pioneers. These people harbor a comprehensive skillset gained through their experience online, applying this to exceptional work and community service activities.


As an institution dedicated to challenging conventions, UF sees things not as they are but as they have the potential to be. This is an institution that strives for greater impact: one measured in people helped, and of course, lives improved.

With more than 200 undergraduate and graduate degrees offered flexibly and online, the university is committed to providing the same great programs as those delivered on site. Specifically designed for students seeking something other than the on-campus experience, UF provides an exclusive education for an unparalleled price.

“The online courses afforded me the opportunity to pursue my dreams through a program that was flexible and convenient for my schedule,” says Christy Richardson, student of UF’s online BS in Microbiology.

“I was able to be a part of the prestigious Gator Nation without abandoning my role as a stay-at-home Mom. Not all Gators come from Gainesville.”

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International

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