Accredited Online College Degree Programs
Accredited online college degree programs are becoming more commonplace, both through traditional universities and the development of new, distance-learning based institutions. The paragraphs below provide source information for finding online college degree programs, as well as three colleges offering such degrees.
How Do I Find Accredited Online College Degree Programs?
Finding a school or program recognized by an accrediting institution helps to ensure the quality of an education. These institutions may award accreditation after determining whether or not a school meets curriculum standards or its faculty has proper credentials. Discipline-specific accrediting institutions may also set training guidelines, such as internship or externship requirements, to prepare students for their prospective career fields.
National Council on Education Statistics
Finding an accredited online degree program may be as simple as searching the National Council on Education Statistics' (NCES) College Navigator (www.nces.ed.gov). This federally-run website provides hard data on accredited colleges and their degree programs, with a search function that allows you to narrow your results to those that offer distance-learning programs. Though the NCES College Navigator offers information on the type of college, enrollment, endowments and basic costs, it's still up to the student to determine the extent to which accredited online degree programs are offered at each school.
U.S. Department of Education
Once you locate a college or university that offers an online degree program, it's important to know that they are accredited by a recognized institution, such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools or the Council on Occupational Education. The U.S. Department of Education offers an accreditation search through their Office of Postsecondary Education (www.ed.gov). This website allows you to search by school or accreditation institution to find out whether or not a school or program is recognized by the Department of Education.
Schools Offering Accredited Online College Degree Programs
There are many schools offering accredited online degree programs. Three schools with some of the most longstanding and extensive accredited online college degree programs are outlined below.
Pennsylvania State University
Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) offered a correspondence study program back in 1892, one of the nation's first such programs. Penn State created the World Campus or Penn State Online in 1998 and now offers more than 70 online degree and certificate programs. Penn State is fully accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools' Commission on Higher Education. Many additional programs are specially accredited. Its education programs, for example, are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Penn State Online offers associates, bachelor's and master's degree programs as well as post-baccalaureate or graduate certificates.
Arizona State University
Founded in 1885 in Tempe, Arizona State University's (ASU) online program, named ASU Online, offers students access to the full university, including its eight libraries. ASU Online offers multiple accredited online undergraduate degree programs, degree completion programs and graduate degree programs. ASU programs are accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools' Higher Learning Commission.
University of Illinois
Started in 1997, the University of Illinois Online (U of I Online) is a university-wide program; each of its Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield campuses participate. U of I Online offers more than 100 programs online, including continuing education courses and undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs. Students can also pursue an undergraduate minor. All campuses are currently accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools' Higher Learning Commission.
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