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15 Best Distance Learning Universities Worldwide

Updated on April 10, 2013

The Secret to Affordable Education

There was a time where it would have been virtually impossible for people to pursue further education whilst being in regular employment, or perhaps having to care for a relative on a fulltime basis. Luckily, with distance learning universities, things are different these days and this is no longer the case. What’s so good about distance learning universities?

Distance learning universities or distance learning colleges offer the freedom and flexibility to choose which programs you wish to enroll, and of course you decide when and at what times you will study. Many traditional universities are offering students the choice to complete their courses from the comfort of their own homes in “virtual classrooms” at a time that suits them, rather than having to attend regular classroom-based sessions and juggling home and work life around them.

Another great selling point about distance learning universities is that for the most part, you don’t even need to be residing in the same country as the university, in order to enroll in your preferred course; you can often submit your coursework online and for examinations, you simply attend an examination center near to where you live.

Are Distance Learning Universities Legitimate?

Distance learning universities – are they all legitimate? You might be thinking to yourself that you like the sound of enrolling in a distance learning university course, but which are the best ones to approach? Whilst the vast majority of universities are genuine, you need to ensure that you fully research your choice of university, as there are some fake ones out there that will take your money and not provide you with the education you want.

In this article, we help you filter out those fake universities by providing you a list of the best genuine distance learning universities around the world. We also give you some background information on each way to help you make your journey into the world of further education an easy one!

They are categorized by region (Europe, North America, Africa, Middle East, Asia, and Australia & New Zealand). Note that some of these universities only accept students from the same country or region that they are based in, so it’s worth double-checking their student entry requirements.

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Distance Learning Universities Europe

  • The Open University (United Kingdom) – established in 1969, they style themselves as the “world leader in modern distance learning”. The OU boasts a user base of over 240,000 students (of which 9,000 are based in mainland Europe). They offer over 473 under-graduate modules, 146 post-graduate modules, and 60 CPD (Continuing Professional Development) modules.
  • University of London (United Kingdom) – established in 1836, the university actually consists of 18 self governing colleges such as the London School of Economics and Political Science, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and the Royal Academy of Music. They have over 50,000 distance learning students in 180 countries worldwide, and offer over 3,700 different courses.
  • The Open University of Catalonia (Spain) – a fairly young university having only been established in 1995, they have scores of post-graduate degrees, masters degrees, and other online learning programmes with over 60,000 students studying them to achieve internationally recognised qualifications in their chosen subjects.

Distance Learning Universities USA

  • Boston University (USA) – established in 1839 and with over 33,000 students across 140 different countries, Boston University offers a number of graduate and under-graduate programmes. ·
  • Grand Canyon University (USA) – this university was established in 1949 and offers a wide range of subjects leading to a number of doctorate, under-graduate and graduate degrees. They have approximately 40,000 students. ·
  • University of British Columbia (Canada) – boasting over 53,000 students, this traditional university offers a number of distance learning courses that carry full credit towards degree or certificate programmes. They were established in 1908 and boast an impressive array of alumni including two Canadian prime minsters!

Distance Learning Universities Africa

  • University of South Africa (South Africa) – originally established in 1873 as the University of Cape Good Hope before being incorporated into UNISA, this university is considered to be one of the best in Africa. With a student body in the region of 350,000 they offer over 819 different qualifications. ·
  • The Open University of Tanzania (Tanzania) – a state-run university established in 1992, they offer a number of under-graduate and post-graduate programmes in a varietyof subjects such as business management and environmental science & technology.


Distance Learning Universities Middle East

  • The Open University of Israel (Israel) – since 1974 this university has been able to offer students the chance to pursue a number of courses leading up to bachelors or masters degrees. They have over 40,000 students studying over 600 different courses.
  • Hamdan Bin Mohammed University (United Arab Emirates) – backed by the Crown Prince of Dubai and established in 2002, this university offers a number of undergraduate and post-graduate programmes in a variety of subjects such as business & quality management, and health & science.

Distance Learning Universities Asia

  • The Open University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong) – established in 1989, the OUHK offers more than 100 postgraduate, graduate, and sub-degree programmes. They have over 18,000 students in total, of which nearly 12,000 are distance learning. ·
  • Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University (Thailand) – the STOU is a state-run university established in 1978. They have over 156,000 students enrolled in a number of bachelors and masters degrees programmes. ·
  • Bangladesh Open University (Bangladesh) – established in 1992, this university boasts an impressive 650,000 students and offers 21 formal academic programmes. These formal programmes result in the awarding of a qualification up to masters degree level.

Best Australian & New Zealand Distance Learning Universities

  • Open Universities Australia (Australia) – one of the more well-known distance learning universities in Australia, the OUA were established in 1993 is owned by a number of Australian universities. They have over 40,000 students (most are Australian, however all of their courses are open to students around the world), and they offer a number of under-graduate, post-graduate and TAFE (Technical And Further Education) courses. ·
  • Massey University (New Zealand) – this university is New Zealand’s largest, with over 34,000 students and the only one to offer degrees in aviation and veterinary medicine. Although they were established in 1934, they have only been offering distance learning degree courses since 1960.


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