Typically, two agencies recognize accreditation within an online or traditional on-campus program. They are the Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, also referred to as CHEA. Gaining accreditation is a rigorous process, therefore, for a university to adhere to the requirements is a tremendous feat in of itself. And, for them to keep their accreditation is even harder, as annual reviews are required. Specific guidelines must be met and followed continually, or their accreditation status can be revoked, if necessary.
Universities can seek accreditation in two areas, institutional and specialized. Furthermore, institutional accreditation can be categorized by two areas, as well, such as national and regional. Institutional accreditation refers to the university as a whole, while specialized accreditation refers to a specific degree or department. National accreditation applies to certain types of colleges, such as those that specialize in trade skills or other technical instruction, in addition to, religious-based schools, including bible colleges and seminary schools. Regional accreditation includes colleges and universities that offer reputable degrees, financial aid, and the opportunity to transfer credits from one school to another. Generally, regional accrediting agencies are divided up into six areas from which they govern, which are the Middle States, New England, North Central, Western and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, in addition to, the Northwest Commission of Schools and Colleges.
Preferably, when researching an online program, keep in mind that employers are very interested in your school’s accreditation, as well as, the school’s reputation. Employers tend to prefer regionally accredited schools, as it is typically harder to gain this recognition due to the rigorous guidelines.
So, what do you suppose constitutes accreditation? What are the board members reviewing? How do they make an informed decision about who’s in and who’s out when it comes to the distinguished accolade? Accreditation is determined by an outside group of people, such as seasoned educators from other reputable universities and school administrations. They are experienced and have the authority to determine a school’s qualifications. They are looking at the university’s mission, their objectives and goals, in addition to, the student admission requirements. They also review the school’s services that they provide for each student, the overall quality of education and perhaps, just as important, the reputation of the faculty members. Why? Because they want to ensure you that you will receive a quality education at a university that they deem suitable for accreditation. Also, this is important for you if you eventually wish to transfer your credits, need financial aid and want a quality education. Only accredited schools are eligible to receive federal and state financial aid.
Are all online schools accredited? This is an excellent question. The short answer is no; however, many of them do offer acceptable accreditations. How do you know what kind of accreditation a university has? You must be diligent in your research work on this matter. Typically, a school’s website will state their accreditation affiliation; however, you should verify their claim, without a doubt, through the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s website, which is www.chea.org.
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