How Does Accreditation Work with Distance Learning Programs?

Accreditation ensures that a program meets standards set by an accrediting agency, which means that other reputable institutions and organizations will honor degrees earned through the program. Read more about accrediting bodies for distance learning programs.

Accreditation for Distance Learning Programs

Accreditation for distance learning programs works in much the same way as accreditation for campus-based degree programs. When looking for an online degree program, be mindful of those that boast accreditation from non-existent or invalid accrediting agencies. Choose a distance learning program that is accredited by the Distance Education and Accrediting Commission (DEAC) or one of several regional accrediting agencies, including:

  • Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • North Central Association of Schools and Colleges, the Higher Learning Commission
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Each of these regional accrediting agencies also accredits campus-based programs and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). The DEAC also is recognized by the USDE, as well as the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). However, although DEAC-accredited degrees are accepted by many employers, a number of regionally accredited schools don't accept credits from distance learning programs with only DEAC accreditation.

Important Facts About Distance Learning Programs

Prerequisites For bachelor's, GED or high school diploma, ACT/SAT scores, minimum GPA; for graduate degrees, bachelor's degree in a related field, minimum test scores, letters of recommendation
Some Degree Fields Engineering, life sciences, fine arts, business administration, education, pharmacy, journalism and communication, and nursing
Program Levels High school, undergraduate, and graduate degrees, as well as various certificates, are available through distance learning programs
Key Skills Self-motivation, computer competency, and the ability to manage ones time effectively are necessary to be successful in an online distance learning program. Internet access is also required

How to Verify Accreditation of Distance Learning Programs

Many distance learning programs feature accreditation information on their websites; however, be sure to double-check all claims of accreditation by looking for the school on the accrediting agency's website. Also, be sure to verify that the reported accrediting agency is both legitimate and reputable. The easiest way to do this is to look up the agency on the USDE's list of recognized agencies.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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