Accreditation: the Key to a Quality Online Program

May 20, 2011 by  
Filed under About Online Degrees

Accreditation: the Key to a Quality Online Program

 

Accreditation: The Key to a Quality Online Program

Justin Mongiardo
Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada

Before you sign up for an online degree program, it is important to make sure your degree with be accepted by employers and other academic institutions. With all the programs out there, it can be difficult to know which ones have the best reputations. However, there is a way to check the reputation of an online program. By reviewing a school’s accreditation, you can be assured of its credibility in the professional and academic world.

Accreditation is the process by which educational institutions are evaluated. Several standards are set that an institution must meet to be accredited. Although standards vary, most focus on a school’s stated mission, available resources, faculty quality, and student admission requirements. The accreditation process is usually conducted by faculty members from other accredited institutions. Its aim is to provide an objective, peer-review process.

Online institutions are held to the same high standards as physical universities and colleges. An online school should clearly state its accreditation information and the agency who certified them. Avoid any institution that does not use the term “accredited.” Other synonyms, such as “certified” or “licensed” do not mean the same thing. You should also stay away from schools who are “seeking accreditation” as this means they have not yet been approved.

Even if a school is accredited, it may not have been evaluated by a quality agency. Thus, you should always check the credentials of the accrediting agency. Some schools have actually been known to make up fake agencies to make themselves seem more prestigious. Some of the most credible agencies have been evaluated by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accrediation (CHEA). For schools outside the United States, the CHEA also maintains an international database to verify an institution’s credentials.

The most widely accepted accreditations are those granted by one of the six regional accreditation agencies in the United States. These agencies are responsible for most college and university accreditation, and are widely recognized for their quality evaluations. Which agency an online program is accredited by will depend on the location where the program is based. Some schools that offer online programs may be accredited by Distance Education Training Council (DETC). This is another quality accreditation agency and most employers will recognize it. However, other institutions may not accept credit from those accredited by the DETC.

Why pay for a course that isn’t considered worthwhile? Obviously that is a waste of both your time and money. That’s why it is imperative that you consider an institutions accreditation prior to enrolling in an online course. By choosing a quality program, you can be assured that you are getting the most of your educational experience.

 

Justin Mongiardo
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