Regional vs. National Accreditation

Accreditation seems like just another buzz word in online education. However, accreditation is incredibly important, and the type of accreditation achieved by an online school can even be a major selling point.

Accreditation guarantees that a degree is legitimate and will be accepted by employers, other schools, etc. An accreditation agency tests the rigor of the curriculum and how well the professors teach. In essence, the agency is testing that you are learning the right things for your major and ensuring the quality of the online program/degree. There are regional, national, and professional accreditation agencies..

Most brick and mortar universities are regionally accredited. Regional accreditation is associated with non for profit universities and institutions. Many technical and for profit universities are nationally accredited. National accreditation is not considered to be as stringent and as difficult to receive as regional accreditation is. Many regionally accredited schools do not transfer credits from nationally accredited schools; some employers do not consider degrees from nationally accredited schools. Before signing up for a program, ask your future/current employers if they will accept degrees from nationally accredited schools. However, if you plan on pursing higher education (graduate studies, PhD), try to stick with regionally accredited schools.

Professional accreditation is a must especially in fields like nursing, engineering, and business. Many employers will only hire people with degrees from professionally accredited universities.

In short:

  • Both regional and national accreditations are acceptable.
  • Credits from a nationally accredited university may not transfer to regionally accredited school. Many employers do not accept degrees from nationally accredited institutions.
  • Evaluate your career goals to decide which type of accredited school to attend.
  • Professional accreditation is important. Ideally, a school would have both regional and professional accreditation.