Applying for a distance learning Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, PhD or short course is not that much different from applying for an on-campus programme. Mainly, you will have to go through the same steps and provide the same type of documents. The only difference you may encounter is that in some universities, you can apply anytime, so you won’t be constrained by a deadline. This just adds to the numerous advantages of online learning.
In addition, the application requirements for an online degree may be somewhat different and more flexible compared to the prerequisites of a traditional degree. However, the language requirements are mostly the same so you will always have to deliver proof for your English language proficiency when you apply for an English-taught programme.
The steps you have to take when you apply for an online degree programme are:
1. complete an online application form
2. upload all required documents
3. attend an online interview (if requested)
4. wait for a reply
5. begin enrolling
Distance vs. on-campus education in terms of application deadline
If you consider applying for a distance learning degree, you need to follow almost the same steps like for an on-campus programme, with an additional advantage: the option to submit your application more often than for on-campus learning programmes.
While for a traditional Master’s programme, for example, there are maximum two submission deadlines and two admission sessions per year (if not only one!), for a distance learning Master programme there may be four or five submission deadlines and admission sessions per academic year. For some programmes, you may even enrol all year around! This, of course, increases your chances of admission and makes the application procedure more flexible for the student.
Step by step application guide of a distance degree
After you have identified the distance learning programme that you wish to follow, then the application procedure includes roughly these steps:
Step 1: Complete an online application form, which will probably require you to previously set up an account that includes some personal information
Step 2: Upload the electronic versions of the following documents:
- Curriculum Vitae
- Copy of your passport
- Copies of your previous qualifications and transcript of records
Although electronic submission of transcripts is usually preferred by most universities, some will accept sealed transcripts as well.
- Proof of English language competencies
Motivation Letter/Personal statement (this should focus on your reasons for applying for the course, how your knowledge and experience link to the course)
Recommendations (from former professors or employers or both) – requirement for references varies from course to course and are usually required to be written in English.
Any other documents specific to the study programme you’re choosing or to your particular education level
Some faculties will accept applications by post, but you will need to check if this option is available and if it is, request the faculty to send you an application form. After completing the application form, you can send it with all the required documents by post.
Step 3: Certain universities or programmes may require an interview, which can be conducted over the phone or online on Skype.
Tips for the Skype interview: An interview on Skype is pretty much the same as a traditional one. Make sure your laptop/computer camera works well and you have a good internet connection. Set-up a clear and plain background as much as possible, and dress formally, like you would for a normal interview.
Step 4: Wait for the decision on your admission. You may want to consider to more distance learning degree programmes, in order to make sure you have back-up options if you don’t get admitted to one online degree.
Step 5: In the happy case in which you have been admitted to the desired programme, you have to enrol as a student. This enrolment can also be done online and may require also the payment of the full or partial tuition fee.
So, as you can see, the application is not much different from the classical application. At most, the application and enrolment procedures for a distance learning programme are more flexible, more frequent and don’t require the physical presence of the applicant throughout the entire process.
Check out the main requirements when applying for a university abroad
Don't worry if you don't meet the September application deadline
At most universities, the academic year starts in September. If you are not able to begin your online studies in September, you don’t have to wait for the next academic year to enrol, you can begin attending classes from December, for instance. In the end, this is what distance learning is about: providing you with more flexibility than traditional education.
On top of this, the entry requirements of many distance learning programmes are less restrictive than the on-campus programmes. Most of the time there are no selection criteria based on excellence, in some cases, you may even enrol no matter your educational background (check out open universities if you are interested in this).
Click and start your distance learning degree
The differences are higher after the beginning of the study programme. As many distance education programmes rely on education through the internet, once enrolled, make sure to have the right equipment ready – such as a reliable computer, a stable Internet connection and access to the particular software as provided by your distance learning institute. If you lack any of these, do not worry: some institutions cooperate with learning centres throughout the world – allowing you to make use of their technological infrastructure to facilitate your learning.