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Postbaccalaureate Certificate inDistance Education

Program summary

Meet the rising demand for distance education professionals. This program — designed by the founding director of the American Center for the Study of Distance Education — focuses on adult education principles, distance learning course design, and research and evaluation in distance education.

100% Online

Complete your Penn State course work at your own pace and 100% online.

Application deadline

Apply by April 15 to start May 13

Credits and costs

9 Credits$1,017 per credit

Develop Skills in Distance Education, Online Learning, and Open Education

  • Create and deliver distance learning experiences for higher education, K–12, corporate, health care, military, and nonprofit organizations.

  • Stay up-to-date with industry trends, issues, research, design, and applications.

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the field’s historical foundation and its impact on present-day development.

  • Apply your firsthand online education experience while teaching others.

Online Distance Education Courses

Learn distance education fundamentals while experiencing distance education firsthand with our 100% online courses.

Required Courses (9 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    An introduction to the history, philosophy, organizations, learning theories, and instructional procedures used in American and foreign distance education.

  • 3
    credits

    In-depth study of the practices of designing courses taught by print, broadcast, and telecommunications media to adult distance learners.

    • Prerequisite

      ADTED 470, LDT 415A

  • 3
    credits

    Study of previous, current, and needed research, and of strategies and issues concerning evaluation, in distance education.

A note about prerequisites: Prerequisites as listed may be waived by the course instructor if you can demonstrate the required level of competency.

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.

Broaden Your Teaching Career Opportunities

A group of educators collaborating as they review documents at a table

As the number of traditional college and K–12 students taking online courses continues to rise, and as more working professionals seek online education to improve their advancement opportunities or help secure a new job, the demand for distance education professionals continues to increase.


Job Titles Related to This Degree

Many graduates of our program are employed as:

  • teachers
  • trainers
  • instruction coordinators
  • instructional designers
  • course builders
  • program managers
  • administrators
  • online learning directors
  • librarians

Career Services to Set You Up for Success

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From the day you're accepted as a student, you can access resources and tools provided by Penn State World Campus Career Services to further your career. These resources are beneficial whether you're searching for a job or advancing in an established career.

  • Opportunities to connect with employers
  • Career counselor/coach support
  • Occupation and salary information
  • Internships
  • Graduate school resources 

Ready to Learn More?

Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.

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Learn more about this program

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Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State graduate certificate?

Apply by April 15 to start May 13. How to Apply 

Costs and Financial Aid

Learn about this program's tuition, fees, scholarship opportunities, grants, payment options, and military benefits.

Costs and Financial Aid

Graduate Tuition

Graduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.

2023–24 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?Cost
11 or fewer$1,017 per credit
12 or more$12,203 per semester

2024–25 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?Cost
11 or fewer$1,027 per credit
12 or more$12,325 per semester

Paying for Your Certificate

Students pursuing a certificate are considered "nondegree," a status that is not eligible for federal student aid, including the Federal Direct Stafford Loan program. A private alternative loan may be an option to consider.

Additionally, Penn State offers many ways to pay for your education, including an installment plan and third-party payments. Penn State World Campus also offers an Employer Reimbursement and Tuition Deferment Plan. Learn more about the options for paying for your education.

Students pursuing a degree and meeting all other eligibility requirements may qualify for financial aid.

Financial Aid and Military Benefits

Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.

To view the detailed list of cost of attendance elements, select “World Campus” as the location on the tuition site.

A Head Start toward a Master’s Degree

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Not only can this program help create opportunities in your career, it can also give you a solid head start toward a full master’s degree.

Degree Program Related to This Certificate

Some or all credits earned for this certificate can be applied to the following Penn State World Campus degree program:

Develop the skills needed to serve adult learners as a teacher, trainer, or leader. This online master's program can prepare you with practical methods to effectively engage and lead in adult education.

Learn more about the Master of Education in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education

Act 48–Approved

Penn State is an Act 48–approved provider for Pennsylvania educators, so the courses for the Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Distance Education may count toward professional development hours.

Who Should Apply?

If you are an administrator, educator, instructor, instructional designer, or trainer who wants to expand your knowledge and build skills in the field of distance education, this could be the postbaccalaureate certificate program for you.

Set Your Own Pace

Adult student doing course work online while a child plays nearby

Whether you are looking to finish your program as quickly as possible or balance your studies with your busy life, Penn State World Campus can help you achieve your education goals. Many students take one or two courses per semester.

Our online courses typically follow a 12- to 15-week semester cycle, and there are three semesters per year (spring, summer, and fall). If you plan to take a heavy course load, you should expect your course work to be your primary focus and discuss your schedule with your academic adviser. 

To Finish Your Certificate in One Year

  • Take 2 courses each semester 

To Finish Your Certificate in Two Years

  • Take 1 course each semester

 

Convenient Online Format

This program's convenient online format gives you the flexibility you need to study around your busy schedule. You can skip the lengthy commute without sacrificing the quality of your education and prepare yourself for more rewarding career opportunities without leaving your home.

A Trusted Leader in Online Education

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Penn State has a history of more than 100 years of distance education, and World Campus has been a leader in online learning for more than two decades. Our online learning environment offers the same quality education that our students experience on campus.

Information for Military and Veterans

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Are you a member of the military, a veteran, or a military spouse? Please visit our military website for additional information regarding financial aid, transfer credits, and application instructions.

How to Apply to Penn State

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Apply by April 15 to start May 13

Application Instructions

Deadlines and Important Dates

Complete your application and submit all required materials by the appropriate deadline. Your deadline will depend on the semester you plan to start your courses.

  • Summer Deadline

    Apply by April 15 to start May 13
  • Fall Deadline

    Apply by July 8 to start August 26
  • Spring Deadline

    Apply by November 15 to start January 13

Steps to Apply

  1. For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold either (1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates.

    GPA — All applicants are expected to have earned a postsecondary (undergraduate) junior/senior grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

  2. You will need to upload the following items as part of your application:

    Official transcripts from each institution attended, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed. Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Penn State alumni do not need to request transcripts for credits earned at Penn State, but must list Penn State as part of your academic history. If you are admitted, you will be asked to send an additional official transcript. You will receive instructions at that time.

    Test Scores — GRE or GMAT scores are NOT required.

    English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Proficiency section on the Graduate School's "Requirements for Graduate Admission" page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.

    References — You will need to initiate the process through the online application by entering names, email addresses, and mailing addresses of references. Upon submission of your application, an email will be sent to each reference requesting they complete a brief online recommendation regarding your commitment for success in an online program. Please inform all recommenders they must submit the form in order for your application to be complete.  

    Program-Specific Questions/Materials

    Résumé — Upload your résumé (one page) to the online application.

    Statement of Purpose — Describe your professional goals, experiences, and responsibilities. Please limit your answer to a maximum of two pages.

  3. To begin the online application, you will need a Penn State account.

    Create a New Penn State Account

    If you have any problems during this process, contact an admissions counselor at [email protected].

    Please note: Former Penn State students may not need to complete the admissions application or create a new Penn State account. Please visit our Returning Students page for instructions.

  4. You can begin your online application at any time. Your progress within the online application system will be saved as you go, allowing you to return at any point as you gather additional information and required materials.

    • Choose Enrollment Type: "Certificate Admission"
    • Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus

    Checking Your Status 
    You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form. 

    Technical Requirements  
    Review the technical requirements for this program.

  5. 5. Complete the application.

Admissions Help

If you have questions about the admissions process, contact an admissions counselor at [email protected].

Contact Us

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Have questions or want more information? We're happy to talk.

To learn more about the Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Distance Education, please contact: 

World Campus Admissions Counselors
Phone: 814-863-5386
Email: [email protected]

Dr. William C. Diehl
Lifelong Learning and Adult Education Program
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park PA 16802
Email: [email protected]

Learn from the Best

This program was designed by world-renowned Penn State College of Education faculty. All courses in the program are taught by the same respected faculty who teach on campus.

Our program designers include industry leaders like Professor Michael Grahame Moore, founding director of the American Center for the Study of Distance Education and founder and editor of the American Journal of Distance Education, and Dr. William C. Diehl, current director of the American Center for the Study of Distance Education and associate editor of the American Journal of Distance Education. Dr. Moore and Dr. Diehl also co-edited the Handbook of Distance Education, 4th edition.

Faculty

  • José Cossa, Ph.D.

    Degree
    Ph.D., Cultural and Educational Policy Studies, Loyola University Chicago

    Dr. José Cossa is a Mozambican scholar, writer/author, researcher, poet, blogger, “twitterer,” podcaster, entrepreneur, and associate professor in the College of Education at Penn State. Cossa holds a Ph.D. in culturaland educational policy studies with a depth area in comparative and international education from LoyolaUniversity Chicago. He is the author of the bookPower, Politics, and Higher Education in Southern Africa: International Regimes, Local Governments, and Educational Autonomy; the recipient of the 2012 Joyce Cain Award for Distinguished Research on People of African Descent; a co-founder of AI4Afrika; and a member of the MacArthur Foundation 100&Change Panel of Judges for two consecutive years (2018 Inaugural Challenge and 2019). Cossa’s research focuses on adult online and distance education, education in Africa, African Renaissance, and power dynamics in negotiation over educational policy; unveiling issues inherent in the promise of modernity and working toward de-colonializing, de-bordering, de-peripherizing, and de-centering the world; higher education policy and administration; system transfer; international development; global and social justice; and related topics. Cossa is engaged in a new (exterior to modernity) theorizing, which he coined as Cosmo-uBuntu. Cossa has taught in South Africa, Egypt, and the United States.

  • William C. Diehl

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Adult Education, Penn State
    • Degree
      B.S., Elementary Education, Penn State

    Dr. William C. Diehl is an assistant associate professor of education in the lifelong learning and adult education program. He is also the coordinator of online graduate programs and lead faculty. Dr. Diehl is the director of The American Center for the Study of Distance Education and associate editor of The American Journal of Distance Education. His research includes foundations of distance and adult education, online teaching competencies, emerging technologies, and intercultural communication. He serves as an adviser to the graduate assistant group and Lifelong Learning and Adult Education GSA group.


Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State graduate certificate?

Apply by April 15 to start May 13. How to Apply