Regionally Accredited Online Schools for Distance Learning

Online schools can be accredited both nationally and regionally, with these types of accreditation administered through separate accrediting agencies. This article discusses regional accreditation of online schools, so you'll be able to select a credible institution.

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Regionally Accredited Online Schools

Online schools may receive regional accreditation from one of six organizations specializing in different geographic regions. The table below lists the six accrediting agencies and the states that they serve. Regional accrediting agencies are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The six agencies accredit traditional colleges and universities.

National vs. Regional Accreditation

National accreditation for online schools is given by the Distance Education Training Council (DETC). DETC is noted for its expertise in accrediting online schools and was originally formed to accredit correspondence courses (www.detc.org). Through DETC's accreditation process, any institution in the nation and around the globe can seek accreditation, while regional accreditation accredits institutions in specific regions only. Online schools may receive regional accreditation through the agency that serves the state where the online school is headquartered.

Advantages of Regionally Accredited Online Schools

Accreditation is a voluntary process during which institutions open their facilities, curricula and financial accounts to accrediting agencies for inspection to ensure that operations and educational policies meet agency standards. Schools may seek regional accreditation in part to facilitate transfer of credits between schools, which have all met the same standards for academic rigor. Many regionally accredited schools will not accept transfer credits from a nationally accredited school that doesn't also have regional accreditation.

Regional Accrediting Agencies

Regional AgencyStates ServedAgency URL
New England Association of Schools and Colleges CT, ME, MA, NH, RI and VT www.neasc.org
Southern Association of Schools and Colleges FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, AL, VA, TN and TX www.sacs.org
Middle States Commission on Higher Education NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD and DC www.msche.org
Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities AK, ID, MT, NV, OR, UT and WAwww.nwccu.org
Western Association of Schools and Colleges CA and HIwww.acswasc.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 WYwww.northcentralassociation.org
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