Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name



Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Ingrid Guerra-Lopez


The quality of distance learning is a concern among different stakeholders. An online learning degree is recognized in some countries while it is not accredited in others. Saudi Arabia is one of these countries that have skepticism in the quality of distance learning. It also has specific conditions for accrediting distance learning programs. Saudi Arabia recently has developed accreditation standards to ensure the quality of this learning mode but Saudi universities have not adopted the standards yet. Thus, the quality of these standards has not been tested yet. Therefore, this study investigates the quality of these standards by applying the methodology of benchmarking to compare their quality to frequently cited quality models for online learning and to aspirational countries in the West (US, UK, and Australia) and to peer countries in Asia (South Korea, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka) and Arabic Region (Jordan and United Arab Emirates (UAE)). It also explores the differences and similarities in the regulations of distance learning accreditation between these 8 countries and Saudi Arabia. The study also validates the standards in a survey design using experts’ rating to the relevance and importance of the Saudi standards for quality distance learning. The findings revealed an overall quality of the Saudi standards based on benchmarking and experts’ rating. Suggestions have been made to improve or change very few quality indicators. The regulations and rules for accrediting distance learning in Saudi Arabia are found to be strict in comparison to other countries. Therefore, the study also recommended policy makers in Saudi Arabia to adopt some of the regulations and standards of distance learning accreditation available in some of the aspirational and peer countries. Other recommendations have been suggested to different stakeholders including higher education institutions, instructional designers, and program directors.