The University of Madras has developed an excellent Institute of Distance Education in the year 1981 to help learners to achieve their educational, career and personal goals. It has completed more than 25 years of service in the field of Distance Education. Now the IDE is offering 22 Undergraduate Courses, 14 Postgraduate Courses, 9 Postgraduate Science Courses, 5 Professional Courses, 16 Diploma Courses and 12 Certificate Courses.

Admissions are made throughout the year for all these 78 Programmes in two streams namely Academic Year Admissions and Calendar Year Admissions.

The Institute is providing quality study materials in Self Learning Format to the students. Further, sincere efforts are taken to promote borderless education at global level through Tele- Education mode.

Admissions are also made through the authorised Spot Admission and Study Centres. The IDE has 30 Spot Admission Centres located in different parts of Tamil Nadu. It has 50 Study Centres located in other States of our Country and has 11 Overseas Study Centres. Presently, the Institute has about 1,60,000 students on roll.

The following new Courses are offered from the Academic Year 2008–2009:
  1. B.A. Criminology and Police Administration
  2. B. Com. Computer Applications
  3. B.Sc. Medical Sociology
  4. M.A. Hindi
  5. M.Sc. Medical Sociology
  6. M.Sc. Counselling Psychology