Online Accreditation - The Mark of Quality
As you consider the details of your educational future online, accreditation should be at the top of your list. Anyone can put together a web page, but serious online education institutions will be certified by legitimate accreditation organizations.
How Accreditation Works
Accreditation organizations look at every detail of a school, making sure it meets standards to give you the best education for your money. These accrediting agencies aren't connected to the schools, so they can offer an unbiased opinion. They use a specific procedure when considering a school for accreditation.
Do Your Accreditation Homework before You Begin
Accreditation is an important consideration when choosing the institution from which you are planning to pursue your online degree.
Accreditation is a tough and expensive process to go through; thus, it can be considered a good measure of integrity. It makes sense to do your homework regarding accreditation before you decide on the online program that's right for you. The U.S. Department of Education provides a list of approved accrediting agencies, which will easily provide the information regarding the legitimacy of the school in which you are interested.
Make Certain Future Employers Will Recognize Your Completed Degree
To ensure that your future employers and other schools recognize your online degree as credible, you should seek a degree from a reputable accredited college or university. The Universal Council for Online Education Accreditation (UCOEA) is one of the primary online accreditation organizations.
The Accreditation Plan
- Standards Set: Together, accrediting agencies work with educational institutions to establish standards for evaluation. Think of it as a study group for schools.
- Self-Evaluation: The institution is given time to prepare for an in-depth self-evaluation, and prepare to be evaluated by the agency.
- On-Site Evaluation: A team visits the institution in-person to be sure that established staff and education standards are met.
- Monitoring: Once an institution receives accreditation, it is monitored to be sure standards remain high.
- Reevaluation: Periodically, accrediting agencies return to the institution with updated guidelines and standards for the school.
How Schools are Accredited in the U.S.
Accreditation in the United States is awarded by private accrediting agencies, not by the government. The U.S. Department of Education defines an accrediting agency as "A private educational association of regional or national scope, which develops evaluation criteria and conducts peer evaluations to assess whether or not those criteria are met. Institutions and/or programs that request an agency's evaluation and that meet an agency's criteria are then 'accredited' by that agency."
The Purpose of the Universal Council for Online Education Accreditation (UCOEA)
The primary purpose of UCOEA is to promote high-quality distance education by identifying standards that outline the best practices in education. UCOEA provides guidance for both established and developing distance education institutions to ensure that online colleges and universities are providing the quality online education promised to you through their promotional literature.
Newer Schools Are Often in the Process of Becoming Accredited
It is also important to note that accreditation is a lengthy process and can take years to fulfill all the necessary requirements. This means that newer schools often haven't completed, or even begun, the process. So the fact that a school does not have its accreditation doesn't always mean that the school is fraudulent or not reputable.
Select the Accredited College or University That Fits Your Personal Needs
Whether you are interested in earning your associate, bachelor, masters, or your PhD, selecting the college or university that best fits your needs and interests is certainly an individual decision. The choices are quite numerous – there are colleges and universities of all types offering online degrees in almost any field you can imagine.
However, since all of these institutions might not be fully accredited, with the assistance of the Universal Council for Online Education Accreditation (UCOEA) and the U.S. Department of Education, you can identify the reputable, accredited schools offering degrees.
Graduate with the High-Quality Education you Expect
It is very important to research the credibility of the accrediting agency for the college or university you choose so you will graduate with the quality of education that will meet your expectations. Discover the wide array of degrees available to you at online accredited colleges.