Correspondence course is the 19th- and 20th-century term for what is today termed distance learning. Student and teacher do not share a physical space but interact by other means. Originally, correspondence courses were conducted via snail mail and, possibly, telephone. Later, television courses came to prominence. Today, courses are conducted via the Internet, using email, instant message, virtual conferencing, and other online communication methods. Correspondence course content can range from high school equivalency to graduate-level art history. One of the attractions of distance learning is that it is often more affordable than traditional classroom study. Free correspondence courses can represent an incredible value, as anything you learn is yours for life.

Look online. Consulting your favorite search engine for free correspondence courses or distance learning, will result in hundreds, if not thousands, of results. Some may be redundant, but if you are serious about studying for free, you can check out every link until you find the type of course and school you seek. You will find course offerings not only from colleges and universities, but from museums, community centers, and vocational schools, among other institution types.

Check with your local high school. High school principals or guidance counselors may be able to fill you in on free correspondence courses, whether related to high school equivalency, or college-level or adult education studies.

Contact colleges and universities. Many universities offer correspondence courses. They may not necessarily advertise these opportunities online. So don't be afraid to pick up the phone or speak in person to a university administrator about free distance-learning possibilities.

Get in touch with your local community center. Such centers may offer free distance-learning opportunities on topics ranging from computer programming to dance history. They may feature their course offerings on line or in print catalogs or fliers.

Contact your city, state, or county government. In some regions, these entities provide funding for adult education. You can find out whether any of their distance learning opportunities are free of charge.

Explore museum offerings. Art and cultural museums often offer distance learning opportunities, sometimes in conjunction with a respected educational institution. You might be able to do coursework related to the history of architecture or even archaeology or foreign languages, depending on what is available. Do not overlook this rich resource relative to correspondence courses.

Check out two-year colleges and vocational schools. If you are looking for specific vocational skills, such as typing or computer skills, your best bet may be schools that specialize in vocational training. Ask if any free distance learning courses are available.

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  • The American Distance Education Consortium is a rich source of distance learning resources.


  • Beware of Internet, or other, scams. Be sure that the correspondence course is truly free of charge before you enroll or register. If any site asks for your financial information, look elsewhere.

Things Needed

  • Internet connection

About the Author

D. Laverne O'Neal, an Ivy League graduate, published her first article in 1997. A former theater, dance and music critic for such publications as the "Oakland Tribune" and Gannett Newspapers, she started her Web-writing career during the dot-com heyday. O'Neal also translates and edits French and Spanish. Her strongest interests are the performing arts, design, food, health, personal finance and personal growth.