Prospective 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. The six regional accreditation agencies each oversee a group of states, including the online programs offered through institutions in those states.
Regional Accreditation and Recognition
Accreditation means that the accrediting body has visited the school, reviewed coursework for quality standards and given the school a stamp of approval. Accreditation is a more rigorous process than recognition. A school may be recognized, but some employers will 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. Below is a chart profiling the six main regional accrediting agencies and the states they serve.
|Regional Agency||States Served||Agency URL|
|Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities||AK, ID, MT, NV, OR, UT and WA||www.nwccu.org|
|Western Association of Schools and Colleges||CA and HI||www.acswasc.org|
|Southern Association of Colleges and Schools||FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, AL, TN, VA and TX||www.sacs.org|
|Middle States Commission on Higher Education||NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD and DC||www.msche.org|
|North Central Association of Colleges and Schools||AR, AZ, CO, IA, IL, IN, KA, MI, MN, ND, NE, OH, OK, NM, SD, WI, WV and WY||www.northcentralassociation.org|
|New England Association of Schools and Colleges||CT, ME, MA, NH, RI and VT||www.neasc.org|
Non-Regional Accreditation for Online Programs
The Distance Education Training Council (DETC) also accredits schools with online programs. DETC is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the United States Department of Education. However, regional accreditation agencies do not recognize DETC as meeting regional accreditation standards, so credit through a DETC-accredited school may not transfer to a school accredited by the regional accrediting agencies.
The Higher Education Transfer Alliance maintains a database of colleges that are recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The Web-based directory lists all schools that have transfer options outlined in CHEA's regulations (www.chea.org). Students can investigate a school to determine if the college they plan on transferring to will accept transfer credits earned from an online degree program.