With the rising popularity of distance education, especially over the internet, the awareness of the factors effecting distance education is very important in order to reap the best benefits of this new education medium. Accreditation is important as it is meant to protect students and employers as well as genuine institutions. An outside body, authorized by the government accredits institutions that meet criteria, ensuring that institutions are teaching their students and meeting standards of quality. An accredited certificate is recognized by employers and institutions of higher education as being genuine.

Accreditation must also be from a recognized source. 'Accreditation mills' of a dubious nature also seek to sell accreditation illegally and falsify facts. Make sure that your online school is accredited by an agency recognized by either the United States Department of Education (USDE) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA); these named organizations maintain lists of accreditation bodies that are trusted and authorized to do so. The following is a list of regional accreditation bodies which are recognized officially.

Watch out for Diploma mills! These are notorious and a main cause for concern for genuine students and employers as these are schools which sell certificates and degrees requiring almost no schoolwork from their 'students' and hence, almost always do not confirm to quality standards.

New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)

For schools in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement(NCA)

Accredits schools in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Navajo Nation, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSA)

Accredits schools in Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Central America, Europe, and the Middle East.

Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (SACS)

Accredits schools in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Latin America.

Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

Accredits schools in California, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, Palau, Micronesia, Northern Marianas, Marshall Islands, and other Australasian locations.

Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (NWCCU)

Accredits schools in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

A degree or certificate earned from any institution accredited by one of the above bodies is considered valid and competitive.

Distance Education Training Council (DETC) is a recognized body that accredits online schools. This accreditation body is also recognized by the USDE and CHEA and is recognized by most employers as well, however, DETC accreditation is not as widely acceptable in comparison to the above mentioned regional accreditation bodies. Additionally, some regionally accredited schools do not trust or allow transfers of credits from schools accredited by DETC and so prospective students must be careful in their selection and should consult a guidance councilor beforehand and check the United States Department of Education (USDE) database for information and lists of institutions which are accredited officially.


If you wish to transfer from a DETC accredited school to a regular school, make sure you have knowledge of your target schools' transfer policies.

Author's Bio: 

SchoolsGalore.com is a web directory for the top online schools, colleges and universities in United States and Canada; with the links to descriptions and search options for online courses or distance learning programs.