Online Learning

National Accreditation versus Regional Accreditation

Accreditation is a huge buzzword when it comes to online degrees. Just about every degree out there is “accredited” by somebody or another. However, amongst the alphabet soup that makes up U.S. accreditation agencies, there are only seven organizations that can be relied on to guarantee an accredited qualification that will be recognized.

The biggest name out there is the DETC: The Distance Education and Training Council. The DETC is a voluntary, non-governmental, educational organization that operates a nationally recognized accrediting association, the DETC Accrediting Commission. Founded in 1926, it was declared by the Department of Education to be the “nationally recognized accrediting agency” for distance learning under US Federal law.

In short, if a course is DETC approved, you know for a fact it’s 100 percent legit, and the certification will be recognized and honored anywhere within the United States. The DETC only gives accreditation to universities and colleges that measure up to very stringent standards, so their accredited courses are often some of the highest-quality in the country. However, they also come with a significant price tag; the price of peace-of-mind.

The other six fall under the title of “regional training councils;” groups that govern accreditation for all universities in their respective areas, both distance-learning and brick-and-mortar related. The six regional accreditors (and the regions they cover) are:

The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) which accredits schools in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA), responsible for accrediting schools in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Navajo Nation, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSA) accredits schools in Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Central America, Europe and the Middle East.

The Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (SACS) accredits schools in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Latin America.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accredits schools in California, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, Palau, Micronesia, Northern Marianas, Marshall Islands and other Australasian locations.

Last, but not least, The Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (NWCCU) accredits schools in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

Any degree offered by a university accredited by one of these six agencies will be recognized in most states.

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Online Learning