What are accredited online colleges?

I have recently started looking for online uni courses to enroll in and discovered that not all online colleges are the same. Some advertise themselves as accredited while others are not. My interest is in distance learning universities that are reputable in science courses.

I would like to know what makes institutions accredited online colleges. What is the advantage of studying in one as opposed to an ordinary non-accredited university for the same course?

Naomi Doyle

in Online Courses

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Jodi Brooks on May 15, 2018

I am glad you have asked this question before enrolling in any program. The Internet has both the good and the bad. Therefore, there is a 50-50 chance that you could get the right course or be defrauded. It is crucial that you seek your degree from an accredited online college for the following reasons:

  • To ensure that the courses offered meet the minimum academic standards.

Colleges seek accreditation voluntarily to prove that their courses meet the set academic standards. The process entails a review of online programs offered for quality and uniformness.  

  • It enables a school to participate in federal and state student financial aid.

An institution requires accreditation to participate in the public student aid program. This aid includes both federal and state loans and grants. Without this offering to students, schools would suffer from low student enrollment due to high college tuition fees. To encourage more students to apply for degree programs higher education institutions offer these options for financial help.

  • To be eligible for employer tuition help.

If you are employed in a corporate or large organization, and you are seeking your first or second degree, you are eligible for the corporate tuition-assistance plan to pay for your online university course. This program is a benefit offered by most corporates and organizations through the human resource dept. Only accredited universities are able to accept this arrangement.

  • Only accredited colleges can allow transfer of credit.

Transfer of credit may be a requirement in registering for graduate degree programs and can only be accepted by accredited universities.

  • Degree certificates from non-accredited education institutions may deny you professional licensure.

Most professions in the sciences, for example, medicine and engineering, may require a state license to practice. If your degree is not from a recognized university, you might be unable to get a license.

A distance learning university may be accredited in the following ways:

  • Regional accreditation - given by a regional accrediting agency that presides over the State, the school, is located. There are six agencies recognized by the Department of Education for this accreditation purposes.
  • National accreditation – is given by bodies approved by CHEA (Council for Higher Education Accreditation) to universities for a specific type of education. For example, distance learning.
  • Specialized accreditation – is given to a particular course/ program/ department within a university. Agencies charged with this mandate are governing bodies of the fields or professions in question.

Nicholas Rivera3 months ago

I would like to emphasis on the point about the legitimacy of online university courses. If you get your degree from an institution that is not credited you are likely to encounter several problems after that. Many employers are reluctant to employ graduates with such degrees.

How to verify if an online degree is legitimate:

  •    Find out if the institution is accredited and by which accrediting agency. You can also check which type of accreditation it has along with organization responsible.
  •    Verify if the accrediting body is legitimate. An accrediting institution has to be recognized by U.S Education Dept. and CHEA.
  •    Check if you can apply federal student aid through the school. If you cannot apply for a federal loan or grant, consider this a red flag.
  •    Go through the list of accredited institutions provided by Council for Higher Education Accreditation to see if the school is listed.

Hope it will help you! 


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