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Government and Private Distance Learning Courses

Government and Private Distance Learning Courses


Many government agencies participate in distance learning programs. Each agency has its own group of available courses. Non-State spouses need to check with their agency to see what similar programs are available.

Distance Learning with the Department of State (Foreign Service Institute)

Who Can Take Courses?
The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) is committed to making learning available at a time and place convenient to the learner. Distance learning is available at no cost to Department of State employees and their eligible family members through two primary means: 1) the FasTrac program, and 2) FSI-developed distance learning courses using text-based, CD-ROM, or online delivery methods. FSI-developed distance learning courses are available to EFMs of other foreign affairs agencies, on a reimbursable basis. Once registered for an online course, you may access it from home or office by the Internet through the FSI Learn Center. Distance learning is a convenient and highly personalized way to learn.

Department of State Foreign Service family members can obtain a copy of the FSI Schedule of Courses from your post Human Resources Officer or visit the FSI Website on the Department of State OpenNet for course information, dates, and registration procedures. Non-State employees and contractors are eligible to apply for all FSI distance learning courses on a reimbursable basis, by submitting a funded training authorization form SF-182 (or DD-1556 for Department of Defense personnel) to the FSI Office of the Registrar, Room F2210, SA-42, Department of State, Washington, DC 20522-4201, fax (703) 302-7152.  Please direct any questions to the Distance Learning Coordinator, FSI Office of the Registrar at FSIRegistrar@state.gov.

FasTrac (Foreign Service Institute)
The FasTrac Distance Learning Program offers over 3,000 internet-based, self-directed courses that can be accessed from home or work. Course topics address a vast range of business, computer technology, leadership and management, and professional development skills. All Department of State Eligible Family Members (domestic or overseas) are eligible to participate free of charge in the FasTrac program. A single FasTrac Logon ID/Password (that's just one DS-755 completed online!) allows a student access to thousands of courses. Once enrolled, the password may be used for one year to access the FSI learning management system. All FasTrac completions will be added to the student's official FSI training record.

FasTrac learners have the ability to obtain college credit and CEUs for these courses. Preparation for professional IT certification exams is available. Courses take from two to eight hours to complete, and training can be achieved in as little as 15-minute increments.

Supervisory approval is NOT  required and logons are renewable on an annual basis. Please direct any questions to the Distance Learning Coordinator, FSI Office of the Registrar at FSIRegistrar@state.gov  / Intranet website.

Distance Language Learning (Foreign Service Institute)
The FSI School of Language Studies (FSI/SLS) has an extensive and growing menu of online language learning courses available to Eligible Family Members who are 18 years of age or older on overseas orders. Courses include:

  • Express Familiarization courses which provide basic familiarization with language and culture in Arabic, German, Greek, Sub-Saharan French, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish
  • Introductory course in Korean that teaches the basic language structure and grammar together with high frequency vocabulary in daily life
  • French: Listening Comprehension designed to help learners with a speaking level of 2 or higher maintain and enhance their listening and comprehension skills
  • Reading Maintenance courses in Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, French, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish, determined to help participants who have a reading level of 3 or above maintain their reading skills ($290 per week for non-State students).

Mentoring by an FSI language instructor is available for all of these courses. Visit the FSI Website for further information. Self-study materials in over 60 languages are also available in text-based/audio cassette delivery format. Email: OnlineLanguage@state.gov / Intranet Website.

School of Applied Information Technology - SAIT (Foreign Service Institute)
The FSI School of Applied Information Technology (FSI/SAIT) utilizes the information technology (IT) courses within the FasTrac program as either an enhancement or as strongly recommended pre-requisites for traditional classroom courses. In cases where industry-standard certifications are available, SAIT will substitute the FasTrac course for the corresponding classroom course. Additionally, SAIT recommends the distance learning courses as a valuable study aid for the industry-standard certification exams. Courses are available to support 23 different professional certifications for IT professionals. For more information on the SAIT Distance Learning program, visit the Intranet Website.

Other Distance Learning Options through the Foreign Service Institute

  • Administrative Management Distance Learning - The FSI School of Professional and Area Studies, Administrative Management Training Division (FSI/SPAS/AMT) has a growing menu of distance learning options available to U.S. Government employees who need Management training in the performance of their work. Training is available in three delivery formats: online, text-based, and CD-ROM.
  • The Consular Training Division - The Consular Training Division (FSI/SPAS/CON) offers courses in an electronic, text-based format, however these courses do not replace the Basic Consular Course. 
  • The Economic Training Division - FSI's Economic Training Division (FSI/SPAS/ECON) currently offers online courses in: World Trade Organization History and Core Principles, Trade Agreements, and the Basics of International Trade.
  • English Language Training - An English language training course is available in an online format. Course participants must be nominated for participation. However, FSI offers 30 self-teaching English grammar lessons, available at no cost, on the Department of State OpenNet without formal registration. Access Grammar Lessons on the Intranet Web (GLOW)
  • The Orientation Training Division - The Orientation Training Division (FSI/SPAS/OD) offers an online version of its popular Introduction to Working in an Embassy.
  • The Leadership and Management School - FSI/LMS recently launched a new online version of its popular Strategic Planning and Performance Measurement course. This course is ideally for planning coordinators and key program managers.
  • The Transition Center - The Transition Center (FSI/TC) offers a course on CD-ROM in Fire Safety.

Distance Learning with USAID

USAID E-Learning Institute
USAID employees have access to 2,000 online courses at no cost through the USAID E-Learning Institute hosted by SkillSoft Corporation. For more information, a list of courses, and registration information, USAID employees should contact their post E-Learning Coordinator (or Executive Officer); the agency e-learning coordinator; or visit the USAID Intranet E-Learning Website


How to Select a Distance Learning Program
Visit The Princeton Review's article How to Select a Distance Learning Program

Pursuing an Online Education

There are two types of institutions that offer online courses; established brick and mortar institutions and schools that are exclusively online.  When considering either, you should check their accreditation status.  The exclusively online institutions will most commonly seek accreditation through DETC (The Distance Education and Training Council).  Additionally both types will usually seek regional accreditation to establish themselves as quality institutions.  These levels of accreditation may also effect whether other schools will accept transfer credits from an institution.  Generally speaking online degrees are as well respected as those obtained from traditional brick and mortar institutions.  The Federal Government does recognize degrees from accredited online institutions.  

If you possess a degree from a foreign institution you will need to have it authenticated before you will be admitted into any Masters or Doctoral program at an accredited institution in the US.  World Education Services is probably the best know International Academic Credential Service -- http://www.wes.org.  

The following websites offer links to Distance Education information and resources.

Information provided by the Family Liaison Office
For information on the above listings, please contact the FLO Functional Training Officer.
Contact the Family Liaison Office

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