There are numerous opportunities for taking a research methods course via distance learning. Some of these courses are credit-based and require enrollment with a university online while others are offered without credit but are free and available for everyone.
Free Courses in Research Methods
Research methods courses are useful for all students, not just those who are required to take them. They can help students form research strategies and methodologies that are applicable to all other subjects. As such, they are popular at open access and free online course groups that cater to those seeking knowledge for knowledge's sake. If you are looking for a course to take, there are many free, online options.
Unite For Sight
Unite For Sight operates a free, online course focusing on research methods with global health data. It places particular emphasis on effective means of conducting international studies in global statistics. Though it offers no transferable credit, it can be incorporated into Unite For Sight's certificate program in global health research.
University of Amsterdam
The University of Amsterdam offers Solid Science: Research Methods via Coursera. This class emphasizes both the principles of research methodologies as well as applying those skills to evaluate past and published work in the social and behavioral sciences.
University of London
The University of London occasionally hosts an Understanding Research Methods class via Coursera. Though no credit is offered for the course, Coursera does offer a Statement of Accomplishment, acknowledging your participation in the class. This is a good primer for those beginning or advancing their understanding of research approaches and skills.
MIT's Open Courseware
MIT's Open Courseware offers several focused, free, open access courses on research methods, including a two-part Doctoral Seminar on the subject and a Quantitative Research Methods which is heavy on statistical frameworks.
Online Credit or Certificates in Research
Generally speaking, if you want credit for your research methods course, you will have to pay for it. You can earn credit alone, towards a certificate or as part of a degree program.
University of Nebraska
The University of Nebraska offers a Graduate Certificate in Mixed Methods Research which covers a variety of methodologies from disparate fields over the course of six modules (3 credits each) to prepare students for the diverse and challenging world of interdisciplinary research. Though there is no dissertation at the end of the course, direct engagement with the university's faculty via email, online forums, and scheduled video-conferencing occurs throughout the modules.
Online Research Methods Degree
If you are seeking an online degree focused on research methods, then you'll need to select the course and overall degree program based on the area of focus you would like your research to zero in on (i.e., education, psychology, statistics, etc.). To apply for a full degree, you need to submit an application and be accepted by the university in order to pursue the program. The procedure for applying for an online degree is the same as acquiring a traditional degree, except it is done on your schedule from your home.
Capella University offers a 60 credit Master of Science in Psychology via distance learning with a specialty in Evaluation, Research and Measurement. Encompassing four core courses and eight specialization classes, the program concludes with a final integrative project created by you and your advisor. Courses are delivered on a quarter schedule parallel to a traditional university experience. Capella is willing to make special allowances if you are only interested in taking one of the courses offered within the wider program.
The University of Illinois
The University of Illinois grants three different paths to qualify for a degree in research methods. They offer a Master of Education in Measurement, Evaluation, Statistics and Assessment or, for those who wish to tackle only part of the Master's work, an Educational Research Methodology Certificate. The full Master's program represents 32 credit-hours and the certificate represents 12 credit-hours. The school also offers an online certificate in Survey Research Methods, which emphasizes research methodologies for field-based studies. This entails three online courses for 11 credits, the last of which involves the direct design and undertaking of a tailored survey.
Research Methods as a Multi-Purpose Course
Developing a strong foundation in methods for conducting research is one of the most useful, multi-purpose skill sets for those undertaking a career in research or who have a vested interest in developing the most efficient means to organize information and plan projects.
Whether you are a career researcher or are just getting started on your pathway, undertaking a distance learning course in research methods is a solid investment in coordinating your thought processes and deciding what you are going to do next and how to go about it - in research and in life. In selecting an online course or program to gain research methods experience, you have the opportunity to select the type of course, the topical focus of the material, and the timeline to your goals. Take advantage of that flexibility to find something that fits your needs.