Choosing an online college can be tricky.
Plenty of institutions offer amazing deals for online courses that seem too good to be true. And some are. When choosing to spend time and money on your education, it’s important to know that you’re making a wise investment.
So, how can you tell? Two words: regional accreditation.
While some schools offer national or special accreditation, regional accreditation is the most stringent and widely recognized. In fact, 85% of colleges and universities recognize regional accreditation. Non-profit schools (like Princeton and Yale) and state schools (like the University of Michigan or Texas A&M) all abide by regional accreditation standards.
This means when you take online courses that are regionally accredited, they’re recognized and accepted across a broad spectrum of educational institutions as quality learning. Therefore, your hard-earned college credit from a regionally accredited school can transfer to almost any college or university of your choice.
Accreditation shows the level of consistency in educational quality. To earn accreditation, schools must undergo a stringent review process and meet a set of academic standards involving faculty quality, student learning, professional outcomes and level of data-based research.
There are several types of accreditations:
Regional accreditation is considered the gold standard for the majority of college degrees. There are six regional accrediting agencies, and each serves a specific geographic region of the United States. They accredit post-secondary institutions and primary and secondary schools. Each of these agencies is primarily concerned with the accreditation of academic, non-profit schools, rather than specialized technical or vocational schools.
National accreditation typically applies to specialized vocational schools, technical schools, religious institutions or for-profit schools such as The Art Institute. This kind of accreditation accounts for less than 6% of all schools. Regionally accredited institutions are reluctant to accept transfer credits from nationally accredited institutions, mainly because they haven’t met the stringent standards of faculty qualifications, library resources and other guidelines.
Special and other
There are other types of accreditations for certain types of degrees. In addition, there are college credit recommendation and evaluation services, like the American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE® Credit), that evaluate and recommend college credits. For example, the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) is a private, non-profit organization that evaluates distance education curriculum.
Some educational institutions may recognize credit recommendations from these varying institutions. However, unless your college credit is regionally accredited, it will have a lower chance of transferring into regionally accredited colleges and universities.
Accreditation will gauge not just the quality of the educational credit you’ll receive, but also the transferability. Regional accreditation is the most rigorous type of accreditation, and therefore the most widely accepted.
If you want to knock out general education courses and then transfer that credit to the college of your choice, regional accreditation is the way to go. The last thing you’ll want is to be stuck with is a bunch of lost credit (plus time and money) that you can’t use toward your bachelor’s degree (or master’s or Ph.D. if you decide to pursue higher education someday). Nothing can be more frustrating than taking a step backward and having to repeat course material.
The accreditation level of your credit institution should match the accreditation level of your prospective college, so—to be safe—always check that the courses you’re taking come from a regionally accredited institution.
To find out if your school is regionally accredited, visit the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) website. Here you’ll find links to all six regional accreditation institutions and can discover if your school is accredited by one of the recognized accrediting agencies.
Yes! Unlike some of our competitors, Pearson Accelerated Pathways is regionally accredited. We partner with more than 2,000 regionally accredited colleges and universities, so whatever path you choose, when you get a degree through Accelerated Pathways and our partner institutions, it will be regionally accredited.
In fact, the courses you take through Accelerated Pathways are guaranteed to transfer into your college. We offer a money-back guarantee plus an additional $1,000 to compensate you for time invested in your coursework if your courses do not transfer through your degree plan.
Make sure you’re earning college credit that counts. Let’s get you started!