In our special topic series on US higher education, today we will discuss distance learning programmes in the United States. Online learning, also known as distance education, is a great way to experience the US education system. International students are generally eligible for distance education courses offered by US universities.
The US institutions offer a variety of full-time degree programmes at the undergraduate and graduate levels as well as individual courses. Learning is facilitated through a variety of methods, including websites, mobile apps, email, telephones, or one-way/interactive audio or video transmission. To receive credit from a US institution for distance learning, the student usually pays a tuition fee.
In addition to full-time degree programmes or individual courses, some US institutions of higher education offer part-time blended programmes that may be partially online and require occasional on-campus attendance, called “low-residency programmes.” Students taking full-time online programmes are not eligible for US student visas, but when short-term US attendance is required for low residency programmes, a visa is needed.
Students attending a US 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.
To find accredited online distance learning programmes, please search the following website of the Distance Education and Training Council: http://www.detc.org/. The types of programs/certifications offered and the application process may be found on individual university websites.
There are options now also available for online learning such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that are usually tuition-free, but in most cases does not offer credit. A few prominent MOOC providers include Coursera, Edx and Udacity. You may check the website of each provider to understand the process of enrollment. The US Department of State also facilitates a free in-person MOOC camp programme in many countries. You may check https://eca.state.gov/programs-and-initiatives/initiatives/mooc-camp for further details.
We recommend that students ask themselves the following questions before selecting a distance learning programme:
• Is the programme accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council?
• How long has the programme been in place and what is the evaluation of the programme by the previous participants of the programme?
• What is the average time it takes for a student to complete the programme?
• What is the schedule of online lectures and do they match with their current work/study schedule?
• What type of employment do graduates of the programme find and is the programme recognised by employers?
Monika Setia is the Regional Officer and Education USA Adviser at the United States-India Educational Foundation based at the US Consulate General Hyderabad. Please visit https://educationusa.state.gov/centers/educationusa-usief-hyderabad for more information…
Q. What are different options for law degrees in the United States? – Sunil Viswanathan
The first professional law degree in the United States is the juris doctor (JD). JD programmes are pursued after four years of undergraduate (bachelor’s programme) study in any major. JD programmes generally do not offer a specialisation, but students may choose coursework that emphasises a subject area. Once a student has completed the JD degree, they are eligible to take the bar exam in any State.
The other option for international students is to pursue the Master of Law (LLM) programme. This is an advanced law degree that requires students to have completed a primary law degree such as a Bachelor of Law or JD degree at the time of admission. LLM is a more advanced degree than a JD. Students may opt for a specialisation during the LLM programme such as international law, taxation, intellectual property rights, etc. In some States, the LLM degree qualifies successful degree holders for bar eligibility along with some additional criteria.
For students who do not intend to practice law but are interested in or working on legal issues, they may pursue one of the other master’s degrees, such as the Master of Science in Law (MSL), Master of Jurisprudence (MJ), Master of Comparative Law (MCL), or Master of Comparative Jurisprudence (MCJ). These degrees are not eligible for bar exams and do not require students to have a law degree at the time of admission.
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