which-organizations-accredit-online-collegesDistance education programs can apply for a special online college accreditation that differs from the credential that is granted to traditional programs.

If you have been debating whether or not you want to attend a higher education program in the classroom or on a web portal, you need to consider just how important accreditation is. Being accredited does not always mean a college is reputable. Instead, it is being accredited by a reputable agency that is widely known and recognized by the Department of Education that you need to consider.

Read on, and learn more about the special organizations that accredit purely online colleges.

What Role Does the U.S. Department of Education Play in Accreditation?

Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. Department of Education does not accredit educational programs or higher education institutions. Instead of evaluating schools and programs, the department is responsible for evaluating whether or not an accrediting agency is credible and reputable.

If the accreditation activities of the agency and its authorities meet the standards of the department, the agency will then be listed on the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs as a recognized agency. Only schools and specific programs with credentials through these recognized councils will make the official government database.

What Are Regional Accrediting Agencies?

Regional accreditation is often seen as the most prestigious type of accreditation offered to post-secondary schools. In the past, only traditional colleges could hold regional accreditation, but today it is possible for a reputable online college to voluntarily apply for evaluation. There are currently 6 different regional agencies that all accept applications coming from schools in specific territories. Here are the agencies that set the rigorous standards that the applying schools must meet:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement
  • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission

Which Schools Are Accredited by National Accrediting Agencies?

Typically, it you are earning a terminal or professional degree through an online college, you will study for your degree at an online college with a regional accreditation. There are, however, circumstances where you would be better off studying for your degree at college of distance education with a national accreditation.

A national accreditation differs from a regional one because these agencies most often evaluate schools that focus on vocational, trade or career training. Since the curriculum at these schools is much more career-focused, there are distinctive agencies that have very unique standards. One of the most well-known national agencies that sets standards just for online colleges is the Distance Education Accrediting Commission or DEAC.

What You Should Know About Programmatic Accreditation

Online colleges might be regionally or nationally accredited, but it is also possible for programs within the college to hold a specialized or programmatic accreditation. The professional agencies that do the accreditation vary based on the field that you are studying.

As you can see, there are multiple types of accreditation. There are also less than reputable agencies that have been created by the actual school to make it look reputable. Be sure to only focus on the agencies that have an online college accreditation that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and you will have peace of mind.

See also: Top Online Colleges With No Application Fee