Nationally Accredited Online Colleges
There is a lot of confusion on the internet about nationally accredited online colleges and universities and regionally accredited online colleges and universities. Many prospective students search the internet looking for nationally accredited online co
Most nationally accredited institutions will accept credits from other nationally accredited institutions and regionally accredited institutions, but regionally accredited institutions generally do not accept credits from nationally accredited institutions, including nationally accredited online colleges.
To further define the difference between the two, you can think of nationally accredited colleges and universities (online or otherwise) as institutions that are more specialized. For example, there are a lot of private religious schools that are nationally accredited. There are also many colleges and universities that teach various trades, such as technical schools, health occupation schools, and computer related schools that are nationally accredited. The national accrediting bodies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education are listed below.
- Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges
- Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools
- Accrediting Commission for Career Schools/Colleges of Technology
- Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools
- The Association of Theological Schools
- Council on Occupational Education
- Distance Education and Training Council
On the other hand, regional accreditation is an institutional-level accreditation status granted by one of six U.S. regional accrediting bodies, which are separated according to region. A list of the regional accrediting bodies (which can be found on wikipedia.org) is given below along with the areas they cover.
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, as well as schools for American children in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools: Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities: Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges: California, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, Micronesia, Palau, and Northern Marianas Islands, as well as schools for American children in Asia
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools: Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, and Texas
Regionally accredited colleges and universities tend to have a broader appeal, since they have a broader choice of degrees and programs to choose from; they don’t just specialize in one area. Almost all, if not all, of the big state colleges and universities are regionally accredited.
Something to be aware of while looking for nationally accredited online schools is that many websites will claim to have a list of nationally accredited online colleges and universities, when, in fact, they have a list of regionally accredited online colleges and universities or a mixture of nationally and regionally accredited schools. For example, elearners.com has a list of “accredited online colleges and universities.” On that list there are 218 online colleges and universities that are both nationally and regionally accredited, yet the list shows up on a search for nationally accredited online colleges. Another example is a list put out by education-portal.com. The headline to this article and list reads “List of Nationally Accredited Online Schools,” but all of the schools on that list are not nationally accredited; they are regionally accredited.
As long as you are not planning to transfer schools before finishing your program or degree, it probably doesn’t matter whether you take your courses from a nationally accredited online college or a regionally accredited online college.