Online Learning

What is accreditation?

So you're excited about obtaining a higher education—excellent! There are plenty of exciting educational opportunities available today that will help you obtain your dream career and achieve your dreams along with it. However, before you dive in and register for the first school that seems as though it will meet your educational needs, there are a few items that you should explore. To save you hours of researching and undue stress, one of the most important elements that you need to look into is whether or not a school has accreditation. What is accreditation you ask?

Accreditation is a means of making sure that schools meet a set of standards. While most schools are accredited by a legitimate agency, others may have lost their accreditation or never were accredited, and are just “diploma mills” that are out to make money.

While there is no official government agency that is in charge of accrediting learning institutions, accreditation is a crucial thing to look out for when choosing your online school. The process of accreditation is actually voluntary, but is nonetheless vital for a school to get funding or ranking as a legitimate institution. A system of six independent regional agencies is in charge of checking that schools meet certain basic criteria and learning standards. This process is intended to protect students, especially to make certain that they are receiving the education they paid for and deserve. It also protects employers that hire said students after graduation. Accreditation agencies must therefore be recognized by CHEA, Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or the USDE, United States Department of Education.

There are schools or departments within schools that are not accredited, often resulting in closures or lack of support and attendance. Even worse are schools accredited by so-called “accreditation mills,” which make money by accrediting schools with little regard for their performance. While these schools are still open for attendance, the diplomas earned there may have less currency in the job market as a result of the lack of proper accreditation.

More relevant to online learning is the accreditation agency DETC, Distance Education Training Council. Recognized by the CHEA and USDE, it is in charge of accrediting online schools, but is not as widely recognized as a standard regional accreditation. In some cases, schools will not allow transferred course credit from schools accredited only by the DETC, something to take into consideration when choosing your online learning institution.

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Online Learning