Is there any US and or N American institution like the University of London External programme.

From what I have read, in the US distance learning and correspondence courses are not that highly thought off ( please correct me if you think my impression is incorrect). While the criticisms are for the most part accurate, the University of London External progeamme is very prestigious and counts several Nobel laureates amongst it’s alumni.

Is there any US, Canadian, Mexican institution with a similar purpose and reputation? In experience a UoL external degree is better regarded professionally than the degrees of many high-ranking universities.

It would help if you explained what the University of London External Programmmmmeee is.

No, correspondence schools are not highly regarded. But your comparison is false especially about the Nobel Prizewinners they listed- in no case was the University of London External System (its current name) their only institution of education. Charles Kao for instance did his undergrad elsewhere and then seemingly got his Ph.D. at the University of London during nights and weekends while he had another job.

So the more direct comparison would be a combination of:

  1. Do U.S. institutions offer non-traditional degree programs (non-fulltime, evenings, etc.)? Yes, especially for law and business school they are very common and quite well regarded. Also advanced degrees in education, etc. can be obtained similarly which is commonly done.
  2. Is one able to get credit for classes taken at other institutions? yes as well

As an example for Wole Soyinka:

and Nelson Mandela’s mentions many universities but not the University of London. So I am also not getting the impression that the University of London program is actually all that special or unique (or well regarded???).

I don’t know of the UoL particularly but I am very familiar with that other great UK institution, The Open University.

Again it is a distance learning organisation and it is a very highly regarded educational establishment, Their MBA program is the choice of many professionals and certainly in my previous employer (a massive international pharma company) when we recruited we looked upon OU degrees very favourably indeed.

Quite a few prestigious US universities offer distance learning opportunities. Stanford, Columbia, NYU, Yale, and MIT all come to mind, and I’m sure there are many more. Not all of these are degree granting and sometimes, maybe usually, a degree program might require a term or more in residence.

But you’re correct that, generally speaking, distance-only or distance-mainly degree granting institutions not considered highly.

In the US, distance learning is becoming more and more popular as the recession drives many adults back to school to improve their job prospects.

In every case that I’m aware of, the university awarding credits for online courses does not differentiate them from equivalent courses offered on-site. Transcripts don’t say “Online Physics 201” or anything of that sort.

Many prestigious universities offer free or inexpensive online courses without the necessity of formal admission. Also, a state university will often offer a comprehensive group of courses online if it is in a relatively large state with a dispersed population (Alaska, Montana, Wyomng, Oregon).

So not only is there no stigma attached to a degree earned by distance learning, the question often never comes up as such degrees are often truly indistinguishable from ones earned conventionally.

Charles Kao studied at Woolwich Polytechnic, which was a center whose students studied for and sat for the external UoL exams.

UNC Chapel Hill recently initiated a distance learning MBA program that I’m considering. The degree is, as has been said, the same as if you attended in person and by all accounts UNC-CH is no slouch of a school.

Basically, you apply to the UoL for admission as an external student for whichever course of study you wish to take. You pay the fees. They send you a syllabus detailing what you have to study and some other materials including, guides, some course books and advice on books to read. How you study is up to you. To get your degree or diploma you have to fulfill their requirements, which are usually exams (taken at various centers around the world) and sometimes through written work (which you mail to them) or a combo.Some people study totally privately. Others might join centers which teach the course and prepare you for the examinations/thesis, these can be independent or affiliated (who are usually given some further support by the UoL). Indeed many Universites in the UK and the commonwealth began life as centers which prepared students for UoL exams, some of these are now prestigious institutions in themselves.

Western Governors University is an online school which is quite well regarded in certain areas. I would not say its more prestigious than big name schools but it is certainly not in the same category as for profit education mills.

WGU was set up by the governors of 19 western states, and serves many students in remote areas who would not otherwise have local access to much in the way of higher education offerings.