Are online schools accredited? - Search Degrees Online, Find the right online degree for you!

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Are online schools accredited?


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In today’s technologically savvy culture, more and more people are seeking non-traditional ways of acquiring a higher education degree. One of the more popular options is to attend an online program/school. A simple internet search will yield thousands of sites offering online degrees on just about every subject imaginable. Online programs are a very viable option of acquiring a degree from the tradition way of attending a college. But how can you distinguish the credible online schools from the scams, the so called “diploma mills”?
Let’s address this question by breaking it down into the following components: - What is accreditation? - Why is it important? - Who can accredit a school? - Is a degree from an online accredited school equivalent to a traditional degree?

What is accreditation?

Accreditation is the validation process by which schools/programs are evaluated against established standards by a federally recognized accrediting agency to ensure a high level of educational quality.
The process generally assesses the school's mission, goals and objectives, resources and resource allocation, student admission requirements, student support services and the quality of the faculty and educational offerings.

Why is it important?

Accreditation ensures that the school/program is meeting quality, established standards and therefore offering students, schools and employers reassurance that the acquired degree and diploma are legitimately earned and valuable.
Receiving accreditation from a recognized agency is increasingly important as greater numbers of diploma mills appear and promote their illegitimate products.

Who can accredit a school?

Not all accreditation is equal. Many online programs may claim to be accredited but it is important to find out who did the accrediting. The accrediting agency must be recognized by either the United States Department of Education (USDE) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Currently, there are basically six regional accreditation agencies recognized by both the USDE and CHEA. These are the same agencies that accredit the traditional brick-and-mortar schools as well as online schools.

Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) Accredits in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, including distance education programs offered at those institutions.

New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE) Accredits in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont including the accreditation of programs offered via distance education within these institutions.

North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission (NCA-HLC) Accredits in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, including schools of the Navajo Nation and the accreditation of such programs offered via distance education within these institutions.

Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) Accredits in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington and the accreditation of such programs offered via distance education within these institutions.

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACS) Accredits in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, including distance education programs offered at those institutions.

Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (WASC-ACCJC) Accredits in California, Hawaii, the United States territories of Guam and American Samoa, the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianna Islands, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the accreditation of such programs offered via distance education at these colleges.

There is one more accrediting agency recognized by both the USDE and CHEA. The Distance Education Training Council (DETC) accredits many online schools however this accreditation is not as widely accepted as the regional accreditation. Also, many regionally accredited schools do not accept transfer credits from DETC accredited schools.
To determine whether or not an online school is regionally accredited, you can search the United States Department of Education database(http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/search.aspx) by institution or by regional agency.

Is a degree from an online accredited school equivalent to a traditional degree?

The answer to this question largely depends on the accreditation, and likely the reputation, of the school. An online program that is run through a traditional (has an actual physical campus), regionally accredited school is the best bet. At such a school, chances are, your online earned diploma will be seen as exactly the same as those who attended classes on the physical campus. If you choose a school that is online only, make sure that it is accredited by the proper regional agency. In order to ensure that your hard earned degree aids in advancing your career or further education, check to make sure the school, the program and the degree will be accepted by others. Degrees from unaccredited schools, or accredited by entities that are not one of the six federally recognized regional agencies, will most likely be considered illegitimate by other schools and employers.
Are online schools accredited? - Search Degrees Online, Find the right online degree for you!

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