If you are in search of an online degree program it's important that you make sure it fits your educational aspirations as well as your lifestyle. But the most important thing is to make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited. Why is accreditation so important? It is a way to determine that a college offers a quality program that has been proven to meet educational guidelines and high standards. Accreditation is what sets reputable programs apart from those that grant academic degrees that have little to no academic value. To truly understand the importance of accreditation, you might want to know a little more about it.
To receive accreditation colleges must go through a lengthy process that includes a thorough evaluation of their academic programs by a third party, usually an accrediting agency. These types of highly reputable agencies determine whether or not the curriculum and training involved in a degree program meets specific educational standards. The accrediting process generally consists of an intuitional examination, peer reviews, visits by the accrediting council, and program critiques and decisions. Accreditation is not granted on a one time only basis and to be maintained colleges have to be reviewed every few years to ensure their programs continue to meet current standards.
Even though a school has been accredited, it does not mean that their accreditation was granted by a reputable agency. In the United States the most recognized higher education programs are accredited by two types of associations, national accrediting associations or regionally accrediting associations. National accrediting associations usually accredit schools that have career, technical, or vocational programs. The Department of Education lists five of these general associations; Distance Education and Training Council, Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology, Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training, and Council on Occupational Education. Specific standards that programs must meet depend on their specialty and graduates may earn either a degree or a certificate. Regional accrediting associations usually grant accreditations to schools that are academically oriented. These institutions, depending on which region they fall into, are accredited through one of six associations; the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Northwest Commission of Schools and Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Graduates typically earn an associate, bachelor's or master's degree from these types of schools, whose programs must meet national and regional academic standards.