Increasingly, people who can’t travel to distant countries have availed themselves of the opportunity to enroll in long distance learning. Some of the very best educational institutions in the world have also plugged into this trend.
While long distance online education has many disadvantages, there are several downsides to it. That notwithstanding, students must make sure their online school of choice is accredited by the right bodies.
It would be unwise to suffer through the pains of getting a degree only to discover later that your diploma/certificate/degree is from an unaccredited institution. It can’t get worse than that.
In the US, there are several online schools open to international students. There are 4 steps to finding out if your US online school of choice is accredited:
1. Find out the state the program is based
2. Then find out what accreditation body grants legitimacy to online schools in that state.
3. Make sure the accreditation bodies are recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the US Department of Education (USDE). These two bodies are responsible for granting accreditation to regular universities and colleges.
4. Then search the USDE database to see if your online school has accreditation from any of the legitimate accreditation bodies. You can also use the CHEA database to do the same thing.
List of legitimate accreditation bodies in the US
1. New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
NEASC is an independent not-for-profit organization comprising members who joined the organization voluntarily. Over 2000 public and private schools fall under the ambit of NEASC.
These schools include technical schools, colleges, and universities in the US and in over 65 countries around the world.
In the US, NEASC accredits online universities based in Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Vermont. Around the world, they also accredit online universities in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
The NEASC is the oldest accreditation body in the US established in 1885. Its accreditation extends across all levels of education from pre-school education for kids to doctoral degree in universities
Presently AdvancED comprises the Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement of the North Central Associations of Colleges and Schools, the Council on Accreditation and School Improvement of the Southern Associations of Colleges and Schools and the Northwest Accreditation Commission.
This non-profit organization accredits primary and secondary schools all over the US and internationally too. So if your preference is for an online high school diploma, accreditation from AdvancED might be all you need to enroll.
3. Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
MSCHE is also a non-governmental organization in charge of accrediting higher institutions in the District of Columbia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, the Virgin Islands, New York and Puerto Rico.
Their accreditation process focuses on making sure there is institutional accountability by setting up rigorous appraisal standards that also involves supervised peer reviews.
4. Western Associations of Schools and Colleges (ACS WASC)
Like the name implies, ACS WASC is a regional accrediting organization targeted at schools and colleges on the West Coast of the US.
They accredit schools in California, Hawaii, and some Pacific Islands such as Northern Marianas, Guam, Palau, American Samoa, Micronesia, Marshall Islands and some schools in Australasia.
5. Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
The NWCCU is recognized by the US Department of Education as the regional accrediting body for schools and colleges in Idaho, Alaska, Utah, Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Nevada.
Today, this independent non-governmental organization sees to the accreditation of over 162 schools and colleges.
6. Distance Education Training Council (DETC)
The DETC is a national accrediting body for all schools and colleges in the US. Though not as well known and widely respected at the other five, it is also recognized as a bona-fide accreditation body by the US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
So, if you obtain your degree or diploma from an online school accredited by any of the above organizations, the validity of the degree would not be in question.