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It is important to determine the type of accreditation needed for your field of study. After regional accreditation, specialized/professional accreditation may be required.
What Other Types of College Accreditation Are
Generally, large well-known universities (i.e., Harvard
and Princeton) and statewide colleges are regionally
accredited. Smaller, private colleges may be nationally
accredited (programs that are nationally accredited
may not transfer to a regionally accredited college.) Programs of study that are regulated by
national or state licensing boards may require specialized
or professional accreditation (i.e., the National Council
for Accredition of Teacher Education and the American
Bar Association). The Department
of Education and the Council
for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) maintain
directories of nationally recognized and specialized
One well known accrediting agency is the Distance
Education & Training Council (DETC). The DETC
often accredits institutions offering correspondence
or other independent study programs. However, programs
accredited by the DETC are not as generally accepted
by regionally accredited schools.
The U.S. Secretary of Education maintains a database for you to check
institution accreditation and lists approximately
6,900 postsecondary educational institutions and programs,
each of which is accredited by an accrediting agency
or state approval agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary
The database can be quickly searched.
How Can I Find Out if a School Won't be Accepted
by Employers or is a Diploma Mill?
According to the Better
Business Bureau, many fraudulent schools (better
known as diploma mills) are profiting on the popularity
of distance learning and are attracting students into
their “degree programs”, often with the promises of
a quick diploma. These types of institutions have been
around for a long time, and use aggressive recruiting
techniques (through telemarketing and direct mail),
following-up on consumer queries through e-mail or their
Web site. These schools heavily promote in print and
on the Internet, and often have sophisticated looking
Web sites. Marketing representatives take advantage
of students lack of knowledge about college accreditation,
and use the terms“fully accredited” , “nationally accredited”,
or “accredited worldwide” to assure the student of the
program's legitimacy. The school's "accreditation"
is usually by unrecognized or bogus agencies.
The Better Business Bureau offers several signs to
look for to recognize a diploma mill:
- The school advertises degrees that can be
earned in less time than at a traditional college.
There are legitimate
ways to earn college credit through prior learning
and collegiate level testing, but the credit offered
through these schools does not meet recognized standards
set by the American
Council on Education and National
PONSI, (the National Program on Noncollegiate Sponsored
Instruction) the two major college credit recommendation
bodies accepted by major colleges and universities.
Generally, fully accredited schools will award up to
32 credits through examination and prior learning towards
an undergraduate degree, but no reputable schools will
award graduate degrees earned mainly through career
- The school states that it is accredited, but lists
organizations that (although impressive sounding) are
not recognized by the U.S. Department of Education,
or attempt to show official status by alleging state
licensure or registration.
- You earn your "diploma" by tuition paid
on a per-degree basis. Traditional colleges charge tuition
by credit hours, or by course or semester. The school
may offer admission only by securing your credit information,
and does not require documentation of academic records.
- The school provides little or no communication with
faculty, or the schools Web site does not provide
information on faculty or names faculty who have graduated
from unaccredited schools.
- The college's name is similar to a well known university.
- The school provides addresses that are only post
office box numbers or suites.
Your college education is one of the most important
investments you'll ever make. If unsure of a school's
status, check the Better Business Bureau or state attorney
general's office to ensure the college is legitimate
and if there have been any complaints.
further information, see Online
Education Gets Accolades and Should
You Get Your Degree Through Distance Learning?