Online Degrees and Accreditation: What You Should Know
Accreditation is a process through which online colleges, universities, and career training schools can publicly document that their online learning programs meet regional or national education standards for academic quality. Accreditation confirms that the accredited distance learning programs of an online school have been evaluated by a recognized U.S. accrediting agency and assessed as meeting the same requirements for authenticity and integrity as other schools receiving the same accreditation. Online schools are increasingly aware of the value of offering accredited distance learning programs.
Accreditation is voluntary procedure, but reputable schools always seek to be accredited. Because of the nature of accredited distance learning in general and the rapid expansion of online education in particular, accreditation plays a vital role in legitimizing schools that offer these programs.
Accrediting agencies in the U.S. are determined and acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). DETC's Accrediting Commission has been recognized as an official accrediting agency by both for more than 30 years.
There are two crucial reasons why online colleges and career training schools should have accredited distance learning programs: transferability of academic credits, and financial aid. An online college's accredited distance learning program helps to ensure that the degree or credits you earned there are authentic and can be transferred to another school. Accreditation also makes the school eligible for federal and state grants and loans.
In the fast growing world of online and distance education, accredited distance learning provides the valuable service of creating a standard of quality that benefits both student as well as school.
1) Distance Education and Training Council Accreditation Handbook, January 2007.
3) Council of Higher Education Accreditation