Ohio University: Distance Learning Programs In-Depth

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Ohio University

Lifelong Learning Programs

Athens, Ohio


Independent and Distance Learning (IDL) serves students at a distance through correspondence and online courses, course credit by examination, individual learning contracts, and experiential learning credit. Credit earned through one of these options is considered residential credit and may be applied without limit to a degree program at Ohio University or transferred to another institution (subject to any conditions set by the accepting institution). Approximately 250 courses are currently available through Independent and Distance Learning; the program has about 4,000 course enrollments each year.

The External Student Program (ESP) assists students at a distance who are working toward Ohio University degrees with such services as transcript evaluation, academic advising, and degree planning. The College Program for the Incarcerated (CPI) offers the same services to incarcerated individuals, along with comprehensive fees unique to this program and staff experienced in meeting the special needs of this population.


Correspondence between students and instructors, using the postal system or fax, is the primary delivery system for IDL courses. E-mail lesson service and videotape supplements are being incorporated into an increasing number of courses. The number of courses using the Internet and World Wide Web for instructional delivery and communications between students and instructors is growing. Online courses are available as self-paced (IDL) and as term-based (Ohio University Online).


To earn an Ohio University degree, students must enroll with the External Student Program. Students are assigned an adviser to assist them in choosing courses and creating the degree proposals.

Three associate degrees are available: Associate in Arts (A.A.), Associate in Science (A.S.), and Associate in Individualized Studies (A.I.S.). All require the completion of 96 quarter hours of credit; at least 30 quarter hours of credit from Ohio University.

Through the Bachelor of Specialized Studies (B.S.S.), students design individualized baccalaureate-degree programs, creating unique majors that combine courses from two or more departments. Students must have sophomore rank and a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 in order to submit a proposal. The proposal specifies the course of study and an area of concentration of at least 45 quarter hours (which cannot duplicate an existing major). At least 45 hours must be earned after admission to the B.S.S. program; at least 80 hours of the 192 hours total for the degree must be at the junior/senior level. Sample tracks for the B.S.S. are available for humanities, liberal studies, behavior management, human development, applied business management, and applied health care management. An adviser assists students through the entire B.S.S. proposal process.

Ohio University, founded in 1804, was the first institution of higher learning in the Northwest Territory. Today it offers all the resources of a major university—diverse intellectual stimulation and an abundance of social and cultural activities—in a quiet, small-city setting. In addition to the main campus in Athens, the University has six regional centers in the southeast quadrant of Ohio.

Ohio University offers degrees in more than 325 subject areas through its colleges: Arts and Sciences, Business, Communication, Education, Engineering and Technology, Fine Arts, Health and Human Services, Honors Tutorial, Osteopathic Medicine, and University College. The University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and holds membership in a number of professional organizations; in addition, many academic programs are accredited by their respective associations.

Ohio University has also been a leader in providing learning opportunities for nontraditional students, including eighty years of correspondence education, credit for college-level learning from life experience, and the external-student degree program.


The Institutes for Adult Learners are held annually on the Ohio University campus. Institute students earn credit, usually four quarters per course, become acquainted with the campus and faculty members, and participate in a residential experience with other nontraditional students. Courses are taught in intensive, one-week classroom formats supplemented by individual work before and after the Institute.


Students at a distance who are interested in completing an Ohio University degree through the External Student Program can use a combination of credit earned through the Institutes, credit for experiential learning documented through a portfolio process, transfer credit (including military and professional training equivalencies established by the American Council on Education), and Independent and Distance Learning options. Students may apply 24 quarter hours of experiential learning credit toward an associate degree; 48 quarter hours may be applied toward a bachelor's degree.

Regularly enrolled students on any Ohio University campus may use IDL or experiential learning credit toward their degrees with their college's approval.


All IDL courses are taught by permanent Ohio University faculty members; more than 90 percent of the 125 faculty members teaching in the program have a doctorate or other terminal degree.


Enrollment in IDL courses is open to anyone who can profit from the learning. Enrollment in a course does not constitute formal admission to the University. Students must have a high school diploma to be admitted to the External Student program; transfer students must have a minimum 2.0 cumulative grade point average. Admission to the External Student Program does not guarantee on-campus admission to a specific degree program at Ohio University.


Fees for IDL courses in 2003–04 were correspondence and online courses, $110 per quarter hour; course credit by examination, $55 per quarter hour; and Independent Learning projects, $125 per quarter hour. Fees for the External Student Program were a $125 application fee and, in subsequent years, an $85 annual matriculation fee. In 2003–04, students seeking credit for experiential learning paid $480 for the required portfolio development course plus $175 per course assessment (paid after completion of the portfolio development course).


Students may use veterans' benefits and employer reimbursement to pay course and program fees. Some students in the External Student Program may qualify for federal financial aid. Standard tuition and fees paid by on-campus students cannot be applied to IDL courses.


Director, Independent and Distance Learning Programs
Haning Hall 222
Ohio University
Athens, Ohio 45701
Telephone: 740-593-2910 800-444-2910 (toll-free within U.S.)
Fax: 740-593-2901
E-mail: [email protected] (General Information)
[email protected] (External Student Program)
[email protected] (College Program for the Incarcerated)
WWW: http://www.ohiou.edu/independent/


Students may enroll in Independent and Distance Learning courses at any time; enrollment forms are provided in the IDL catalog and at the program's Web site. A separate application process is required for the External Student Program; forms are provided in the IDL catalog or online.

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Ohio University: Distance Learning Programs In-Depth

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Ohio University: Distance Learning Programs In-Depth