Guide to Distance Learning in India

Page content

Distance Education in India

Distance education, as the name implies, is education that does not require regular class attendance at an educational institution. It can be carried out from any location and, within the confines of a course schedule, at any time that is convenient to the learner. Distance education in India is carried out over the Internet, with interactive CD-ROMs, by postal correspondence, and through television and radio broadcasts.

While distance education programs in India are gradually gaining a following, they lag behind regular courses when it comes to popularity. This has to do with available courses, teaching standards, future career options and a general social perception of distance education degrees as being somehow ’less’ than regular ones. Employers, for instance, seem more inclined to hire people with regular college degrees.

For all that, distance education in India appeals to people for the following reasons -

  • Distance education is not dependent on the area of residence. You can take an education course from any state in India and from any remote outpost of the country.
  • Since distance education courses can be taken from anywhere in India, people from rural areas do not have to go through the expense of moving to an urban area for their education.
  • Distance education courses are less expensive to take than regular college courses. This makes distance education a favorable educational option for economically disadvantaged people who would otherwise not be able to pay for an education.
  • Since the course structures are flexible, people do not have to take a break from their jobs to pursue an education.
  • Distance education courses are also proving popular with established professionals. They can learn new skills for career advancement while continuing with their current occupations.

Distance Education Institutes in India

The Distance Education Council of India (DEC), which is based in Delhi, oversees Open and Distance learning in India (ODL). The council undertakes the following functions -

  • They look into the administration of the Indian open universities.
  • They determine the funds to be given to the educational institutes.
  • They assess the teaching standards, educational standards and course matter in distance education.
  • They give distance education institutes the necessary accreditation.
  • They offer advice to regular universities in setting up distance education programs.

Distance learning is available in all the Indian states. There are 11 open universities and over 54 distance education institutes.

The leading distance education institute is the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) in Delhi. Some other popular institutes for distance education are the MIT School of Distance Education and the Yashwantrao Chavan Open University in Maharashtra, the Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University in Gujarat, and the Pandit Sunderlal Sharma Open University in Chhattisgarh.

Eligibility and admission criteria vary for different institutes. Courses usually start in January and June.

Distance Education Courses in India

Various arts, science and commerce courses on the diploma, under-graduate and post-graduate levels can be taken through distance education programs.

Distance education programs offer courses in Hindi, Sanskrit, English, history, geography, politics, economics, sociology, psychology, biology, chemistry, physics and so on. Science courses may require some on-campus work.


Here are references to some distance education institutes in India. Go to the websites to find relevant information about programs, eligibility, enrollment and schedules.

  • Distance Education Council of India (DEC)
  • Distance Education Institutes in India
  • Indira Gandhi National Open University
  • Yashwantrao Chavan Open University
  • Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University
  • Pandit Sunderlal Sharma Open University