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Almost all degrees that can be obtained through a physically located college can also be obtained through distance learning programs. Some degrees, such as medical degrees, cannot be obtained unless the program involves some coursework in a classroom. There are distance learning college degrees for every level of education, ranging from certificates to highly advanced degrees. It is important to note, however, that not all of these programs provide graduates with degrees that can be used to obtain employment, because many of these degrees are devalued by the reputation of the institution. The usefulness of distance learning college degrees is entirely dependent on the reputation of the program, which must be sufficiently compelling to supplant the stigma against distance learning programs in general.
Distance learning college degrees often take the form of certificates, which can be used to demonstrate a certain level of skill in a particular topic. A certificate may be obtained through a single class or a set of classes, but it usually takes less time to complete than a full college degree. It is possible to get a certificate in a wide variety of topics and skills, and these distance learning college degrees can often be considered reputable.
It is also common to see more advanced distance learning college degrees, which may be associate's or bachelor's degrees. In different regions, the type of degree offered may differ. These programs often take a number of years to complete, and courses may be taken in conjunction with classes offered at more traditional colleges.
When it comes to more advanced degrees, such as master's degrees or doctorates, it becomes more difficult to find reputable schools offering accredited programs. Certain subjects, such as library sciences, have well-established distance learning programs offering what are considered perfectly reputable degrees in the field. A distance learning master's degree in a less technical topic, such as English, may not be fully equivalent to a traditional degree in a practical sense.
The topics in which distance learning college degrees are offered are highly varied, and it is often possible to find degree programs in very specific topics. Certificates may be offered in skills as specific as expertise in a single computer program, which can be useful when attempting to obtain certain types of jobs. Longer programs usually take the form of broad topics, such as English or math, but it is often possible to specialize in narrower areas. Success in distance learning programs is highly dependent on self-motivated learning, so it is important for students to take the initiative and pursue their interests aggressively even if the program demands minimal work.