The number of students enrolled in free home study courses has increased dramatically in the past ten years. Many of these students are enrolled in programs offered through traditional post secondary colleges and universities. Universities have responded to students’ needs by increasing the course offerings in distance learning programs.
Online universities are new providers of higher education. These institutions are generally a consortium of several degree granting institutions. Some of these programs are affiliated with traditional universities, while others are not affiliated with any other university. By working together, these institutions are able to offer a wider range of free home study courses.
The online consortium may or may not be a degree granting institution. In some programs, your degree will be granted from the online consortium, such as the University of Phoenix. Others are not degree granting institutions, and your degree will be granted from one of the participating universities, depending on your course of study.
In recent years, the number of online free home study courses with no affiliation with other institutions has grown. Most of these programs offer certificate programs, rather than college degrees. Many of these courses are seminar style and much shorter in duration than typical college courses. Independent study is common in these programs. The credits you acquire may not be transferable to another institution.
When considering your options in free home study courses, determine your overall goals. If you are taking a few courses for work and don’t plan to continue on for a degree, you may not care if your institution is accredited. However, if your long term goals include a post graduate degree, you may transfer to a traditional university at some point. If this is a possibility, accreditation may be important. Some institutions won’t accept credits from a school that isn’t accredited.