Getting your degree online is mainstream in today’s educated world. An important part of preparing to get your online education is to make sure the school you are considering is an accredited school. What does it mean to be accredited? According to the U.S. Department of Education:
Accreditation in the United States is a voluntary, nongovernmental process, in which an institution and its programs are evaluated against standards for measuring quality.
Let’s take it one step further. There are two types of accreditation that you need to consider; National accreditation and regional accreditation. Your choice may affect your ability to transfer credits, be accepted for graduate studies, or gain employment. Knowing the similarities and differences between national and regional accrediting agencies can help you make an educated decision.
The Distance Education Training Council (DETC) is commonly referred to as a “national accreditor.” They are a single organization that focuses on accrediting distance learning schools throughout the United States. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation and also the United States Department of Education recognize the DETC as an accredited agency.
The regional accreditors are a network of six organizations, each focusing on a specific region of the United States. Regional accreditors grant approval to brick-and-mortar schools as well as online schools. Regional accreditation is the most commonly accepted form of accreditation. Because most brick-and-mortar colleges are accredited by a regional organization, they tend to be more accepting of transcripts and degrees that come from regionally accredited online schools. Some employers also prefer degrees from regionally accredited schools.
Your final step in choosing an accredited school is to consider your future goals. If your new degree will be your final degree, you plan to complete your education at the same school, and your future employers will not care about your school’s accreditation, either choice is acceptable. If you may change schools before completing your degree, you want to pursue further education after graduation, or you will seek employment with companies concerned about accreditation issues, you may be better off with a regionally accredited college. For a list of accredited schools go to the U.S. Department of education database of accredited schools.