Accreditation is awarded to postsecondary schools by various agencies, both regional and national, that have their own requirements schools must pass in order to consider themselves accredited. A short list of these agencies includes the following:
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Universities, Commission on Higher Education
- New England Association of Colleges and Universities, Commission Institutions on Higher Education
- New England Association of Colleges and Universities, Commission on Technical and Career Institutions
- Distance Learning and Training Council, Accrediting Commission
When looking for an online degree program, one way to judge the level of education you will receive is to look for agencies that have accredited the institution or the program and visit their websites to see which criteria they've used to determine the program's worth or if the institution is accredited at all. An accredited online degree can help employers and others validate the education you've received. How Does an Online Program Become Accredited?
According to the Distance Education and Training Council 2008 accreditation handbook, institutions seeking accreditation from this agency must provide the following information in order to be considered:
- Clearly outlined mission statement
- Program curriculum, outlines and objectives
- Instructional materials and testing materials
- Curriculum for online study
- Study instructions
- Learning resources
- Student affairs materials (distance learning)
- Evidence of adequate record keeping
- Student surveys
- Faculty and administration background information
As you can see, becoming accredited by an accreditation agency is a rigorous process. Programs that become accredited have proven they are worthy teaching institutions.
Don't be fooled to choose a Non-Accredited Online Program
If you decide to transfer to another college after completing your degree, most colleges and universities will only allow you to transfer credits from accredited schools. By choosing an accredited online degree program, you're choosing a program that is recognized not only by one or more educational agencies, but also other colleges, universities and employers. If you try to seek employment after graduation from a program that's not accredited, most employers will not want to hire you. This is because they may feel the education you received was not of acceptable education standards for the positions they have available. Furthermore, they have no way of qualifying if it's genuine.
When choosing an online program, look for accreditation symbols on the school's website. Most schools have a page devoted to accreditation. If you're still unsure, you can contact the issuing agency to find out when the accreditation was given and if it is legit.
An online accredited degree is very important for your future. Whether you transfer to another school or you want to find a job, the school you attend can have an impact. Even though accreditation may not seem like much of an indication of the school's academic offerings, it's a good place to start when you want to find the best education investment of your time and money.
Mary Jackson is a contributor for http://www.distance-learning-college-guide.com where you find useful information on distance learning colleges, accredited degrees online and links to accredited online colleges. See more related information on why college accreditation is so important to your education and also a list of top accredited online Colleges and Universities to choose from.