If you are seeking any kind of Online College Degree program, finding Accredited Online Colleges should be one of the first things you look for in a college. Accreditation ensures that the college has undergone independent review and the educational experience offered meets certain standards of quality.
Accredited Online Colleges Meet National Standards
Any of the Accredited Colleges will be able to provide proof of accreditation upon request including the accrediting agency and dates of accreditation.
Accreditation is important since it can affect credit transfers, financial aid, and possibly even employment opportunities. Accredited Colleges typically have met fairly stringent standards in regards to the quality of education provided as well as curriculum and college faculty.
A Degree From Accredited Online Colleges Has Value
The United States Department of Education is involved with the accreditation process but only peripherally. The Department of Education and the Secretary of Education determine which accrediting agencies to recognize as being capable and reliable of assessing online colleges, universities and institutions and accrediting those who meet and/or surpass their quality guidelines.
For Federal Financial Aid purposes, there are accrediting agencies who are directly recognized by the United States Government and The Department of Education. There is also a private organization which, in concert with the Department of Education, provides accrediting services. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation assesses and approves individual accrediting agencies much like the Department of Education. The net result is a large number of recognized accrediting agencies that monitor and stipulate as to the quality of schools offering degrees.
Online Universities can therefore receive accreditation from any one of a large number of accrediting agencies. It is a prudent exercise to do some checking to make sure the online degree program you are interested in is in fact accredited. Some of the more widely known accrediting agencies include:
- ACICS-Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools
- DETC-Distance Education and Training Council
- NCA-Higher Learning Council-North Central Area
- WASC-Western Association of Schools and Colleges
- MSA-Higher Education Commission of the Middle States
- NEASC-New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- NASC-Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges
- SACS-Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
With the growing popularity of online college degree programs, accreditation becomes a very important factor in choosing the right college program. For instance, Accredited Schools will have much more flexibility in respect to credit transfers and degree recognition.
If a Bachelors degree was awarded by a school without the proper accreditation, another school may choose not to recognize it. This would be particularly disastrous if the student was hoping to go on to higher degree levels such as a masters at another college. If that college refused to accept the previous Bachelors Degree due to a lack of accreditation it would be particularly costly in terms of time and money spent.
Accredited Online Colleges are not hard to find but the fact remains that it is on the prospective students shoulders to ascertain the status of accreditation. If at all possible, a clear and concise educational plan with regards to desired degree levels and online degree programs will aid in making the best choice possible.