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Accredited Online College Degree Programs

Traditional colleges and universities and distance-learning-only institutions offer accredited online college degree programs. Students can find accredited online programs at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels.

What Types of Accredited Online Degree Programs are Available?

There are a multitude of online accredited degree programs that are available to students. Programs that do not require hands-on learning, such as liberal arts degrees, are often offered online by accredited institutions. Programs that have clinical components, such as nursing degree programs, may be offered as hybrid degrees, which means students can complete part of the degree online and part on campus. There are also programs that require students to be on campus for a short period of time during their degree program, which is called a 'period of residency.'

Schools That Offer These Programs

Many colleges and universities offer online degree programs, and many schools state that their online programs are identical in content to their on-campus programs. Some large public universities have divisions or schools devoted to online programs. Public, private not-for-profit and private for-profit schools offer these programs.

Finding Accredited Online Programs

Choosing an accredited online school is important - that means its programs meet rigorous standards set forth by a recognized accrediting agency. Completing accredited programs is often required for certification or licensure in fields such as teaching or engineering. Although some schools say their online programs are accredited, it is best to check out the accrediting organization, as some organizations are not recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Education offer tools for consumers to check the accreditation status of schools.

National Center for Education Statistics

The National Center for Education Statistics' (NCES) College Navigator provides data on accredited colleges and their degree programs, with a search function that allows researchers to narrow results to only include colleges that offer distance-learning programs. NCES College Navigator also offers information on the type of college, enrollment and basic costs, but it does not provide information on what types of online programs are offered at each school.

U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education offers an accreditation search through its Office of Postsecondary Education. On this website, students can search by school or accrediting organization to find out whether or not a school or program is recognized by the Department of Education.

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