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Distance Learning Programmes in India: Recognition & Approval

Subhashri Roy
Subhashri RoyUpdated On: July 17, 2020 03:02 pm IST

Wondering which distance learning programmes in India are recognised? Scroll through to learn about the types of distance learning programmes in the country and how they are recognised.

Types of Distance Learning Programmes in India

Given the current scenario and the unmatched flexibility that distance learning courses offer, it is no wonder that distance education continues to rise as an alternative approach to traditional education amongst students who are looking to gain another certified skill or qualification.

Today, distance education is no more an unexplored medium. In fact, India has a total of 1,592 recognised Open and Distance Learning (ODL) programmes and more than 40 lakh students enrolled in universities offering ODLPs as per the UGC Annual Report 2017-2018.

With the stigma attached to Indian distance education, prospective students often find themselves in a dilemma over the types of distance learning programmes in the country and their worth. In this article, readers can find all about ODL, types of ODL programmes, undergraduate and postgraduate courses offered in distance mode, how distance learning programmes are recognised in India and so on.

Table of Contents

What is Open and Distance Learning (ODL)?

Types of Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) for Distance Learning in India

Types of Distance Learning Programmes Offered in India

Distance Learning Programmes Prohibited in India

Undergraduate Courses Offered in Distance Mode

Postgraduate Courses Offered in Distance Mode

How are Distance Learning Programmes in India Approved and Recognised?

Mandatory Disclosure on the Website of an HEI

Top Colleges in India Offering ODL Programmes

Online Learning in India

What is Open and Distance Learning (ODL)?

Launched in 1962 by the Delhi University (DU), ODL was introduced in India as an academic solution to reach out to more students and further democratise the education system. Distance education is a system that primarily focuses on delivering education using correspondence, either virtual or written. Today, “Open Learning and “Distance Education” are used interchangeably. However, the vital difference between the two is that open learning is only a philosophy and distance learning is the mode through which the same is executed.

Types of Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) for Distance Learning in India

India has one of the largest distance learning systems in the world with a total of 128 recognised HEIs. Given below are the six types of Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) that are permitted to offer distance learning programmes:

  • Central University

  • State University

  • State Open University

  • Central Open University

  • Deemed to be University

  • Private University

Types of Distance Learning Programmes Offered in India

All the distance learning programmes in the country are offered in accordance with the objectives of the concerned institution, its national and regional aspirations and norms of the concerned statutory bodies. Listed below are the types of programmes offered in ODL mode:

  • Diploma

  • Certificate

  • Graduate Degree

  • Post Graduate Degree

  • Post Graduate Diploma

Distance Learning Courses Prohibited in India

In 2017, the UGC had notified that programmes in the following fields will be banned from being offered in distance/correspondence mode by any HEI:

  • Engineering

  • Medicine

  • Dental

  • Pharmacy

Read more about streams prohibited from offering distance learning courses in India.

Undergraduate Courses Offered in Distance Mode

Given below are the undergraduate programmes offered in the distance mode by several universities like IGNOU, Chandigarh University, Lingaya's Vidyapeeth, Faridabad, Graphic Era University, Bharti Vidhyapeeth, Pune, etc.:

Name of Course


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

3 Years

B.A. (Vocational Studies) Tourism Management

3 Years

Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.)

2 Years

Bachelor of Social Work (B.S.W.)

3 Years

Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com)

3 Years

Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.)

3 Years

Bachelor of Computer Applications (B.C.A.)

3 Years

Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.)

3 Years

Bachelor of Library & Information Sciences (B.Lib.)

1 Year

Postgraduate Courses Offered in Distance Mode

Listed below are the postgraduate distance learning courses. Apart from them, individuals can also opt for various postgraduate diploma programmes offered in diverse fields by top institutes.

Name of Course


Master of Arts (M.A.)

2 Years

Master of Tourism & Travel Management (M.TTM.)

2 Years

Master of Library & Information Science (M.Lib.)

1 Year

Master of Anthropology

2 Years

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

2 Years

Master of Education (M.Ed.)

2 Years

Master of Commerce (M.Com)

2 Years

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

2 Years

Master of Computer Applications (MCA)

2 Years

Master of Science (M.Sc.)

2 Years

How are Distance Learning Programmes in India Approved and Recognised?

The Distance Education Bureau (DEB), under the University Grants Commission (UGC), is the regulatory body of distance learning in India. It was set up in 2013 after the Distance Education Council (DEC) was dissolved and UGC was entrusted with all the regulatory functions.

Under DEB, all the HEIs need to undergo a recognition process, after qualifying which they will be considered approved and recognised to offer distance learning programmes. The entire recognition process has been mentioned below.

  • HEI Eligibility- Offering programmes in ODL mode under the HEI Act is allowed only if the institution has existed for five years and has a NAAC score of at least 3.26.

  • HEI (other than an Open University) must be offering a similar programme in the traditional model of classroom teaching.

  • Approval- If the institute is approved by Statutory Bodies under the concerned Act as well as approved by the concerned regulatory authorities.

  • Quality Assurance- CIQA, learning environment and learner support, programme development and monitoring teaching quality and staff development should be in place.

  • Academic and Administrative Staff at Headquarters- Head, Assistant Professor, Deputy Registrar, Assistants, Computer Operator, Assistant Registrar, Associate Professor, Section Officer and Multitasking Staff should be readily available.

  • Program Project Report (PPR) and Self Learning Material- The same should be prepared and approved by statutory bodies.

  • Learner support centres and examination centres- The HEI must adhere to the policy of Territorial Jurisdiction and must have the required academic and other staff along with qualified counsellors.

Mandatory Disclosure on the Website of an HEI

As determined by the DEB, following details shall be available or disclosed on the website of every HEI:

  • Letters of recognition from the Commission and other relevant regulatory or statutory authorities/bodies.

  • Programme Details such as Name, Duration, Fee, Eligibility, Structure etc. should be mentioned.

  • Programme-wise information including syllabus, programme structure with credit points, contact points for counselling, faculty details.

  • Date sheet for registration, admissions, counselling process, assignments.

  • Data of year-wise or programme-wise student enrolment and seat intake details.

  • Information regarding Self Learning Material (SLM) like faculty, date of preparation, references, sources, study material, etc.

  • List of Examination Centres and Learner Support Centres (LSCs) along with the number of students that appeared at the allotted examination centres.

  • Period of admission process along with the academic session and schedule of the term-end examinations.

  • Report on Quality Assurance.

Also Read: Distance Learning Courses in Management: Colleges, Fees, Eligibility, Application, Selection

Top Colleges in India Offering ODL Programmes

Given below is the list of the top 10 colleges/universities in India that offer distance learning programme in various fields:

Also Read: Distance Learning Courses in Science: Courses, Eligibility, Application Form

Online Learning in India

In 2018, the UGC had notified that the HEIs can offer the degree, diploma and certificate programmes in online mode. The same should only be under those disciplines in which the institute already offers programmes in ODL or regular (traditional classroom learning) mode.

For online learning programmes, exams are conducted in proctored mode. As of today, there are 37 different recognised online programmes offered by 7 recognised HEIs. The updated list has been mentioned in the table below:

Name and Category of the Institute

Name of the Course

Indira Gandhi National Open University,

New Delhi (Central University)

  • Certificate in Tourism Studies

  • Certificate in Arabic Language

  • Certificate in Russian Language

Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal (Deemed to be University)


JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysuru (Deemed to be University)

MBA in Hospital Administration

Post Graduate Diploma in Bioinformatics

Bharati Vidyapeeth, Pune (Deemed to be University)



Shanmugha Arts, Science, Technology & Research Academy, Thanjavur (Deemed to be University)


Diploma in Sanskrit

Dr. D.Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune (Deemed to be University)


Certificate in Digital Marketing

Certificate in Hospital and Healthcare Management

Amity University, Noida (Private University)

B.A. in Tourism Management



B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication




M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication


PG Diploma

In order to apply for any of the above-mentioned courses, you may fill out CollegeDekho’s Common Application Form (CAF). In case you have any queries regarding ODLPs, please reach out to us on our QnA zone or call our student helpline number 1800-572-9877 to get in touch with one of our admissions counsellors.


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