Distance Education Definitions

Distance Education Definitions

Ohio State has adopted the Higher Learning Commission's distance education definitions. The University Registrar defines distance courses and programs as follows:   


Distance Course

75% or more of formalized instruction, synchronous or asynchronous, uses one or more of the following technologies: the internet; one-way and two-way transmission through open broadcast, closed-circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite, or wireless communication devices; audio conferencing; or videocassettes, DVDs, and CD-ROMs used in conjunction with any of the other technologies. 

Ohio State defines distance courses by two instruction modes: 

  • Distance Learning (DL): 100% of instruction is offered by distance 

  • Distance Enhanced (DH): 75%-99% of instruction is offered by distance 

View the University Registrar's job aid for class labels

Distance Program

A postsecondary educational program offered by an institution of higher learning, in which 50% or more of the courses offered are distance courses, which leads to an academic or professional degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential. 

An associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral program is considered a distance program if 50% or more of the courses offered as part of the program are distance courses. Ohio State does not include minors or embedded certificates as stand-alone education credentials for distance education; however, certificate types 1A, 2, and 3A as defined by the University Registrar can be considered distance programs if 50% or more of the courses offered are distance courses.  

Refer to the OAA decision tree to help your colleges determine the best categorization for your proposed certificates.  

Why Definitions and Labels Matter

The consistent use of labels with distance education programs, courses, and students is critical for compliance requirements, accreditation reporting, and clear and effective consumer information.

The ONL (online learning) sub-plan in the Student Information System (SIS) identifies students enrolled in Ohio State Online programs. The distance education budget model is applied to all Distance Learning (DL) and Distance Enhanced (DH) credit hours earned by students enrolled in online programs officially designated with the ONL sub-plan in the SIS.