While distance learning is hardly new, technology has now made it possible – and attractive – for hundreds of highly regarded U.S. institutions to offer their postgraduate degrees to students around the world, U.S. News and World Report reports.

While some doctoral programs are being offered online – usually in professional fields like health sciences – the real growth in online graduate education has been in master’s degrees, says Debra Stewart, president of the Council of Graduate Schools, a Washington, D.C.-based organization dedicated to the improvement and advancement of graduate education.

A 2012 study by Eduventures, a Boston-based higher education research and advisory firm, reported that 35 percent of all master’s degree students are taking their courses at least 80 percent online, a jump of nearly 16 percent in just one year.

Many prestigious institutions now in the game impose modest residential requirements on online students.

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