- What are the different types of accreditation for online universities?
- What are the conditions to be satisfied for an institution to become accredited?
- What happens if my school obtains its accreditation after my degree program?
- Which are the areas that fall under the 6 regional accrediting agencies?
- How to find out whether the accrediting agency is reputable?
What are the different types of accreditation for online universities?
National Accreditation, Regional Accreditation, and Specialized Accreditation are three main types of accreditation awarded to online educational providers.
National accreditation is limited to vocational or trade schools whereas regional accreditation is applicable to traditional universities that offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The basic objective of National Accreditation is to evaluate specific types of nontraditional schools and colleges including trade schools and religious schools, among others.
In the U.S., there are six regional accrediting agencies, which cover specific areas of the country. When an online college applies for regional accreditation, this proposal is evaluated by the regional agency of that particular state. Specialized accreditation is given to specific programs of colleges or universities and not the entire college as such.
What are the conditions to be satisfied for an institution to become accredited?
The institution will have to submit a self-study report based on the decisive factors and norms of the accrediting agency. The educational institution will be reviewed during a site visit by a team from the accrediting agency to evaluate whether the institution is meeting the eligibility criteria, based on which the accrediting agency will take a decision.
Various factors such as the amenities offered to the students, infrastructure, and the teacher student ratio will be considered, among others, while rating the institutions. Once it becomes accredited, the institution must retain the status all through the periodic review processes of the accrediting agency.
What happens if my school obtains its accreditation after my degree program?
Though, only a degree earned after accreditation is considered as an accredited degree, it is likely (but not assured) that even degrees issued prior to that are considered accredited. Some schools even offer the students the choice of going back and earning a replacement degree for an additional cost after the accreditation has been granted to them. This is a wonderful option in some respects since it may give you the option to seek an advanced degree knowing their bachelor’s degree was acquired from a non-accredited school. It could help for employment or career purposes as well. But if someone is financially strapped or has moved out of the area, returning to attain a replacement degree is not that simple.
Which are the areas that fall under the 6 regional accrediting agencies?
• The North Central Association accredits institutions in the states of Arkansas, Arizona, North and South Dakota, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Wyoming, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.
• The Middle States Association issues accreditation to schools and universities in the states of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey apart from the Districts of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
• The New England Association of Schools and Colleges accredits educational institutions in the states of Rhode Island Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont.
• Institutions in the states of Alaska, Idaho, Washington, Montana, Utah, Nevada, and Oregon fall under the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
• The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accredits institutions in the states of North and South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Virginia.
• The Western Association of Schools and Colleges is responsible for issuing accreditations for
institutions in the states of California and Hawaii, the Republic of Palau, and the Northern Marianas Islands, the territories of Guam, American Samoa, and the Federated States of Micronesia.
How to find out whether the accrediting agency is reputable?
Make sure to check whether it is listed under the listings of the national and regional accrediting agencies prepared by the U.S. Department of Education. You can also approach the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) to verify the credentials. Just make a quick search on CHEA’s institutional database. Enter the institution’s name or state and you can find out whether it is accredited or not. It is important to verify the qualifications of the accrediting agency which has approved the institution. There are many fake or surreptitious agencies with misleadingly similar names of prestigious institutions.