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Correspondence study is defined by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) as a formal educational process under which the institution provides instructional materials, by mail or electronic transmission, including examinations on the materials, to students who are separated from the instructor. Interaction between the instructor and the student is limited, is not regular and substantive, and is primarily initiated by the student; courses are typically self-paced.

The primary differences between a correspondence self-paced course and a distance education course offered through an academic department are that correspondence self-paced courses are not semester-based, and the interaction between a correspondence student and instructor is asynchronous.

Correspondence self-paced courses offer an additional way for students to satisfy degree requirements. Also, students may enroll in a correspondence self-paced course at any time of year. Students have six to nine months to complete their coursework.