What Are Correspondence Courses?

Many colleges and universities offer correspondence courses, which give students the chance to learn new skills or earn credits without physically attending the school. Read on for more information about distance learning through correspondence courses.

What Is a Correspondence Course?

A correspondence course is a class that is carried out through distance learning, whether that is online or with print materials that are mailed or faxed. Some correspondence courses may be only for career or personal development, while others might offer college credit that can go towards a degree. If you're interested in earning college credit for your work, it is important to ensure that you attend an accredited correspondence school. The primary accrediting institution, recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, is the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). There are many correspondence schools across the United States and they may offer classes anywhere from high school to graduate school levels. Many people choose correspondence courses when they are not able to be geographically close to an educational institution. Some also choose them because they want the flexibility that these courses can offer.

DegreesCertificate, Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate
Common CoursesEnglish Composition, Basic Algebra, Introduction to Finance
Key SkillsFlexibility, Adaptability, Self-motivation, Knowledge of Blackboard or other related software
Possible CareersIncluding but not limited to: Historian, Biologist, Accountant, Nurse
Median Salary (2018)* $61,140 (Historians), $63,420 (Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists), $70,500 (Accountants and Auditors), $71,730 (Registered Nurses)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)*6% (Historians), 8% (Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists), 10% (Accountants and Auditors), 15% (Registered Nurses)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Online Correspondence Course

Online correspondence courses are becoming the most popular way in which to conduct distance learning. All correspondence between instructor and students or between classmates is through e-mail, message boards, or virtual learning systems. Class materials are typically available to download or access online. If textbooks are used, they can usually be purchased through the college or university bookstore or through online stores.

Print Correspondence Courses

Although online courses are more popular, some colleges and correspondence schools still prefer to use print materials for their correspondence courses. Students usually get a textbook and study guide to use for these types of correspondence courses. Books and study guides can typically be ordered through the college or university offering the course. Assignments are mailed, faxed or, if possible, dropped off on campus to course instructors. In some correspondence programs, tests are administered on campus or at a proctor site.

Advantages of Distance Learning Through Correspondence Courses

Many students, especially those working full-time or with other obligations, enjoy the flexibility correspondence courses offer. There is typically no set schedule for correspondence courses, allowing students to complete assignments at any time of the day. This also allows students to work at their own pace. However, some of these classes may have a maximum time limit for how long it can take a students to complete the class. This is most common for classes where students can earn college credit.

Another advantage to taking correspondence courses is that it provides the convenience to work from anywhere, eliminating the need to go to and from a physical campus. If moving geographically for school is challenging, correspondence courses offers an alternative option.