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Upper Iowa University Correspondence Distance Learning Program

External Degree Office • Upper Iowa University • P.O. Box 1861, Fayette, Iowa 52142 • Ph: 1-888-877-3742; F: 1-563-425-5353 • E-mail: • Website:
Fast link: fast link to the External Degree page

by Michael Leppert

Upper Iowa University provides a tremendous resource for homeschooling students and working adults to complete an undergraduate degree in the flexible environment of traditional correspondence courses. The UIU correspondence program has been in operation since 1973 and was one of the first of its kind in the nation. While many universities offer correspondence courses in isolated subjects, very few offer full degrees completely by distance delivery methods. UIU provides 17 degrees in its External Degree Program, with 15 being completely by correspondence and 2 requiring some online work, but all 17 do not require any campus attendance at all! However, at least 30 credits out of an average of 120 total credits have to be through UIU and 36 units have to upper level courses. Therefore, if a student completed 36 units of upper level work at UIU, both of these requirements would be satisfied.

The correspondence courses by UIU function in the same way as an independent study program. Once the student is enrolled in the program, s/he is sent a hard copy syllabus (or it can be delivered as a PDF via e-mail). Then, the student purchases the textbooks as set forth in the syllabus through a company called MBS Direct.  The syllabus has instructions for scheduling and completion times for all work. While the student works through the course, s/he has contact with the instructor via phone, e-mail or fax as they need it. There are no minimum time limits set -- a student can complete the course as quickly as s/he wishes. But the maximum time limit is six months initially. If necessary, an extension of six months can be arranged, but the student is encouraged to remain on a timely schedule.

There are at least two proctored exams in each course. The student must arrange to have a proctor oversee the exam. But UIU is flexible in allowing many different types of impartial people to function as proctors: Public librarians, college librarians, school principals or counselors, learning centers such as Sylvan (who usually charge a fee for proctoring) are typical proctoring choices. Students in the military can simply go to the Education Center at their base and have their exams proctored for no charge. For students who live in Iowa, UIU has 14 learning centers located around the state, which offer proctoring as well.

There are even UIU correspondence students in the military who are based in Iraq and are still able to complete their coursework, depending upon their assignment and location!

UIU External Degree does not have two different prices, one for Iowa residents; another for non-residents and its tuition for the external degree program is competitive with other schools in the nation with similar programs. UIU is also one of the few universities that offers financial aid to correspondence students. This aid is in the form of PELL Grants and/or Stafford Loans, based upon eligibility.

A few of the 17 degree offerings are: Accounting; Business Administration; Criminal Justice; Law Enforcement; Fire Science; Emergency & Disaster Management; Human Resources and Social Science. 

UIU also offers two Associate of Arts (AA) degrees and five certificates, which require five classes, and allow a degree holder who is re-tooling for a new career to simply obtain the certificate in a focused area of study. M.L

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