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Distance Learning at Florida Colleges and Universities

Updated: Jun 7, 2023


The Florida Community College and State University System offer a wide array of independent study and distance learning options for students seeking a higher education degree. With a little research and careful planning, some students have been able to earn a college education without ever stepping foot on campus. “Such a degree is not easy to obtain,” Kathy Mears explains. “It takes a considerable amount of effort, discipline, and drive to succeed using this non-traditional path. However, the ability to tailor a college education plan to a student’s specific needs and goals can make distance learning an attractive option for students of all ages.”

CLEP Before entering a higher education institution, students may want to consider the College Level Examination Program (CLEP). Most Florida schools will award college level course credits for the successful passage of CLEP exams. These are 90 minute multiple choice tests that cost $77.00. Depending on the individual college’s policy, each passing score on a CLEP test can translate into 3-12 college credits. General information about CLEP tests including how to prepare, how to sign up, and where to take the exams can be found at the College Board website www.collegeboard.com

It is important to note that the State of Florida has a statutory writing requirement for most core courses known as the “Gordon Writing Rule.” In order to comply with the law, students will need to create a writing contract with an instructor at a college or university. This can be done after the completion of the CLEP exams. Students should refer to the school’s general bulletin for policies and work with a college counselor to ensure that they can meet the state requirements for full credit.

Alternative Credit Programs There are a variety of other courses and exams that will count toward college credits. For example, Tallahassee Community College has an entire section of their course catalog that outlines alternative credit programs accepted by the school. Community colleges tend to provide more non-traditional credit opportunities for students than state universities. Florida has a nationally recognized matriculation system between the community colleges and state universities, therefore starting at a community college can be a great way to begin the process.

Distance Learning Degrees There are hundreds of courses delivered through distance learning in Florida; some public universities offer complete Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees through distance learning. There is no distinction between a diploma earned via distance learning and a diploma earned on campus. In fact, students will be able to participate in graduation ceremonies just like all other degree recipients. Students wishing to learn more about degrees offered online in Florida can visit https://www.completeflorida.org/degree-programs.

With research and resolve, it can work for you.

Distance Learning Works In 1996, I decided to pursue a college education. The task seemed daunting; I had no idea where to start. I was working full-time while my husband was in law school. I learned about upon the very policies and resources mentioned in this article. Beginning with the CLEP exams, I earned over thirty college credits. Through the online, distance learning and independent courses offered at Tallahassee Community College, I completed my Associates Degree in 9 months while working full time. In 2001, I entered Florida State University and obtained my Bachelor’s Degree in just over 2 years. I will never forget the feeling of accomplishment when I received my degree. The creativity and persistence that it took to complete my goal was as valuable to me as the knowledge received through my courses. Distance learning is available in Florida – with research and resolve, it can work for you.

Kathy Mears graduated from Florida State University in 2003, Summa Cum Laude, with a 4.0 GPA. She is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Public Administration.

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