Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Importance of Accreditation and Online Learning

Online degree programs are fast becoming an attractive and viable option for the adult student. The convenience of online college programs makes pursuing an online degree a sensible choice.

More adults are making the decision to obtain an online education. According to the 2007 Sloan Consortium Survey of Online Learning:

  • 3.5 million Students were enrolled in online colleges and universities during 2006.
  • Two-thirds of all U.S. colleges and universities offer online programs.
  • Thirty-five percent of all U.S. colleges and universities offer online degree programs conducted entirely online.

Accredited online colleges offer non-traditional students another path to a quality education.

Accreditation- Choosing Wisely

Not all online schools and programs are accredited. Finding out what accreditation means is an important first step in your search for the right online college or program. My College Solution only lists accredited online colleges and programs.

What is accreditation?

Accreditation is the voluntary evaluation and monitoring of a school's course content, faculty, operating policies and procedures according to a basic standard of quality. The United States Department of Education states: "The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality."

Accreditation does not imply you will be satisfied with the school- but it does show that certain standards have been met. When you begin your search for a program that is right for you, remember to check the accreditation status of each school you are considering. Accreditation information will always be included on admissions materials, college catalogs and websites.

Who accredits colleges and universities?

Accreditation in the United States is conducted by private agencies and state agencies recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a "reliable authority as to the quality of postsecondary education" within the meaning of the Higher Education Act of 1965. A list of accrediting agencies recognized for distance learning can be found at:

Why is accreditation important for online learning?

Accrediting lends credibility. This does not mean institutions that have not sought accreditation, or been accredited, have nothing to offer. There are valuable programs useful for furthering personal development or pursuing interests. But attending an accredited school is wise for the following reasons:

- Federally sponsored financial aid is only available if enrolling in schools and programs that are accredited. This applies to on-campus and distance learning enrollment. Most states have the same policy. This has the effect of forcing you to pay out of pocket, or obtain private or commercial loans.

- Transfer credit is only accepted by accredited schools from other accredited schools. If educational plans involve a possible transfer, as in the case of applying to a 4 year school from a 2 year college, or from an undergraduate school to a graduate program, the accreditation of each college or program needs to be considered.

- Employment opportunities may be limited if potential employers look for proof of attendance at an accredited institution. Opportunities for advancement may be withheld if graduation from an accredited college or program is lacking.

Most importantly, you will know the online college or program you've selected has been evaluated, and is being monitored, for the quality of education they provide.

Where to get answers

Informed choices are generally wise choices. Knowing the meaning and importance of accreditation before selecting an online college or university is a good place to start. For additional help, My College Solution advisors are available to answer your questions.

Directory of Accredited Online Colleges

If you need more information on online higher education and degree programs, or information on online colleges & universities, please call our friendly advisors toll free at:


Laurie Jerome-Pertilla - Accredited online college directory

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