As a matter of course, children – particularly in India – pass on to undergraduate (college) courses after completing their high-school (secondary) education. Technically, undergrad is equivalent to Degree College in India while the interim two years of junior college may be considered senior secondary.

Nomenclature notwithstanding however, the fact remains that once a student has passed his grade 10 (SSC), he goes on to choose his preferred stream of study – usually Arts, Science, or Commerce. A few students move directly to vocational courses.

Distance learning is rarely considered except for skill enhancement or perhaps post-graduation.


Under normal circumstances, a student would attend a college of his choice and pass out of his preferred stream of study – perhaps completing a post-graduate or PhD course to further hone his skill or gain mastery in a particular branch of study.

In the current pandemic lockdown situation when uncertainty is rife, parents along with students are worried about the future of academics.

To ease the stress, we have collated a list of distance learning options for your child.

If you are looking for curriculum options, home schooling, tutors, or other information check out our other blogs here.


Wikipedia describes it as a course where a student may not be physically present in class – which covers it nicely. The idea originated from the concept of correspondence courses, which were mailed lessons – before the days of the internet. The reasons for the emergence of distance learning are many but moot. They include a spectrum of drivers from religion to the need to pay your way through college.

While the underlying concept of correspondence courses and distance education is the same, there exists a difference in the mode of deployment, accountability and assessment, and a few other factors. The two terms must therefore be considered separate.


One question that parents and students alike worry about is the validity of the distance-learning course. The Distance Education Bureau (DEB) – earlier known as Distance Education Council (DEC) – of India governs distance education in India. Formed under the Indira Gandhi National Open University Act (IGNOU) Act 1985, the DEC approves and regulates distance learning programs by various universities in India.


Before talking about the types of distance learning programs, a word on why you need them at all – why not go the whole course and complete your education the regular route? Isn’t physical attendance better than studying on your laptop while sprawled over your couch or bed? These questions plague many a student and parent.

Well, as we already said, the reasons for emergence of correspondence and eventually distance learning programs are moot. Some factors that drive present day students and parents to consider distance-learning include –

  1. Dropout and resulting social embarrassment
  2. Inability to attend school / college
  3. Economic constraints
  4. Working students
  5. Up-skilling
  6. Career specific
  7. Convenience

The present COVID 19 Lockdown situation has forced the hands of both students and teachers to resort to distance learning.

Depending upon the reason – up-skilling or pursuing higher studies – and the stage you are at – Grade X, XII, or elsewhere – you may enroll in one of the following types of distance learning programs –

  • Certificate courses

These are short-term courses – usually less than or up to a year in duration. Certificate courses are usually taken up by working professionals for skill enhancement. They may also be taken up by students to qualify for a particular career or job or to bridge the gap between theory and practice.

  • Diploma courses

These are vocational specific courses running for a year or two. The curriculum is focused on a particular profession and completion of the course prepares the student to take up employment in the respective profession. Diploma courses are often chosen as an alternative to degree courses because they are shorter, more economical, and more focussed – ergo they provide an early start to your career.

  • Bachelor’s Degree courses

These courses are usually taken up after completion of high school (senior secondary or Grade 12). Apart from the three popular streams taken up in India – Arts Science Commerce – a Bachelor’s degree may be earned in other specialized subjects too.

Click here for a complete list of Bachelors courses in India.

  • Master’s Degree courses

Upon completion of the Bachelors course, many students go on to specialize in one or more branch of their chosen field. Such a course is called a masters course. For instance, a student studying Mathematics may specialize to become a statistician (Masters in Statistics) or specialize in computer science.

  • PG Diploma (PGD) courses

PG (Post Graduation) Diplomas are the short-term alternative to masters’ degrees. While the academic level is the same, the duration of a diploma is usually one year as against 2 years for a masters’ degree.

  • Doctorates (Ph.D)

A Doctorate is the highest level of education one can acquire in any subject, branch, or speciality. It involves writing a thesis – an academic research paper – about your chosen speciality as well as an internship in most cases. All doctorates are addressed with the title Doctor – so you may have a Doctor in Economics, a Doctor in Statistics, and so on.

Interestingly, the full form of Ph.D is actually Doctorate in Philosophy while a doctorate in the medical – or healthcare – field is call an MD (Medical Doctorate).

MPhil – another term that confounds many – is Master in Philosophy though this is also used for other streams. So, you may complete your MPhil in Statistics or Economics.

Although subject specific, MPhil is of a shorter duration as compared to a Doctorate.

Below is a state wise list of Universities offering DEC approved distance education programs in India –

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