Regionally Accredited Online Degree Programs

Oct 24, 2019

There are six regional accreditation agencies that accredit colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher education, many of which offer online degree programs. Additionally, accreditation specific to online schools is available.

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Regionally Accreditation

What a prospective student is trying to decide between different schools, verifying the schools' accreditation is a good place to start.

What Is Regional Accreditation?

Accreditation means that the accrediting body has visited the school, reviewed coursework for quality standards, interviewed the faculty and administration based on pre-set criteria they expect to be met, provide accolades and suggestions for improvement, and finally after a rigorous review of all the aforementioned criteria, decide if a school meets the standards worthy of becoming an accredited school. Accreditation is a more in-depth and lengthy process based on predetermined standards while the distinction of recognition is not as formal or lengthy. Sometimes a school may be recognized, but not accredited. Employers may not accept a degree from a recognized school that is not accredited. Regional accreditation is only one type of accreditation that a school with online degree programs may hold.

How to Determine Accreditation

Students verifying regional accreditation for an online degree program can start by determining the state where the school of choice's main campus or headquarters is located.

Six Accrediting Agencies

There are six regional accreditation agencies. The six regional accreditation agencies each oversee a group of states, including the online programs offered through institutions in those states.

Accrediting Agency States Covered
The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington
The Western Association of Schools and Colleges California and Hawaii
The Southern Association of Schools and Colleges Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, and Texas
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington D.C.
The Higher Learning Commission Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming
The New England Association of Schools and Colleges Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont

Find Accreditation Information

It is simple to determine if an online program is accredited. Follow these easy steps:

1. Find the state where the college is physically located.

2. Determine the accrediting agency based on the state.

3. Check their website for the list of colleges they have accredited.

Non-Regional Accreditation

For students who may want to transfer to another college later on, there is something important to consider as you determine the accreditation of your school of choice. The Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) also accredits schools with online programs. DEAC is a national organization recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the United States Department of Education. However, credits earned from a DEAC-accredited school are not guaranteed to transfer to any other college or university since each institution has its own transfer policy. It's the student's responsibility to determine if the college they plan on transferring to will accept transfer credits earned from a DEAC-accredited online degree program.

As you decide which college has the best program for you, remember to investigate if a school is regionally accredited because this will be important to future employers and to other schools you might want to attend later.

Expert Contributor: Martha Maurno Martha has an MS in Education and experience teaching HS, college, and as an academic advisor. She specializes in online instruction & education.

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