As further proof that the future of education is in distance learning, enrollment in online accredited colleges rose by 10% in 2010. In the same year, 6.1 million students took accredited online courses. With so many people choosing to take online classes for college, many may question why you should consider accredited versus non-accredited schools.
What Are Online Accredited Colleges?
Accreditation is a validation process by which institutions of higher learning are evaluated against a predetermined set of standards. The accreditation process for online degree programs is typically accomplished through peer reviews done by faculty from accredited institutions. The appointed faculty will evaluate the online accredited colleges by assessing the institutions’ mission, goals, objectives, student admission requirements, resources, the quality of faculty, and educational offerings.
In some countries accreditation is conducted by the government. In the United States accreditation is done by private non-governmental accrediting agencies. The only role the government currently plays in accreditation in the United States is to regulate the criteria the “reliable authorities” use to define the quality of higher education institutions.
Why Choose Accredited Online Schools?
Knowing if online accredited colleges you are paying a lot of money for are properly accredited, can save you a lot of heartache when looking for a job. For example, some online certificate programs that are non-accredited will not be recognized by employers as formal training for a specific profession. In some cases, you may have to go back to school and retrain for your dream job.
Sometimes you may find the class credit will not transfer at a non-accredited school. It is also important to understand which online colleges and universities are accredited so you can identify “diploma mills”. Diploma mills are unaccredited institutions that award online degrees without properly qualifying them.
What To Look For When Choosing Online Accredited Colleges
The word “accredited” is a loose term many online universities use to attract new students. It is important to understand and look for proper terminology that can help identify the best online schools.
All accredited online colleges should freely communicate their accreditation to prospective students. After identifying if the school is accredited, one must also look for the accrediting agency.
It is not uncommon for some schools to be vague about accreditation by using words such as, “pursuing accreditation”, “chartered”, licensed or registered”, “recognized”, “authorized” and “approved”. If you see these phrases, it is important to do some more investigation on whether or not the “accredited online university” is indeed accredited. You may also want to check out the institution’s qualifications for accreditation.
How To Find A Reputable Accrediting Agency
An easy way to find out if the college in question has used a reputable accrediting agency is to check out whether it has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education by visiting their website ED.gov
Another quick way to determine if the institution is accredited is by visiting the CHEA’S (Council for Higher Education Accreditation). Here you will find an international database in case you are interested in a college outside the United States.
A Final Word About Online Accredited Universities
So, here are some ideas on how to determine if a college online is accredited. Many people each year are fooled by an institution’s deceptive wording. As a potential student, your first assignment is to take a closer look at the foundation of your education. If you want all your hard work to count, make sure you are enrolling in online accredited colleges before starting your pursuit of an associates, bachelor, masters or PhD online.