Higher education is a significant investment, and accredited online colleges provide more value to students than non-accredited online schools in the long term.
A school’s academic programs may be taught by experienced and engaging faculty who implement the best curricula, but many employers do not take the academic credentials that they confer seriously if the school is not accredited by a United States Department of Education (USDE) or Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) endorsed agency.
Approved agencies can provide accreditation at the national or regional levels; they can also confer specialized accreditation on career or faith based institutions. Since future employers value accreditation, students must do their homework to determine if their chosen school has the right credentials before they decide to enroll. Happily, that homework assignment is not difficult thanks in large part to the USDE’s publicly available Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.
Here are some examples of appropriately accredited online colleges and universities.
Capella University Online
Capella University is an online school that offers students undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degree programs in a number of disciplines. In addition to its degree programs, the school also delivers quality graduate level certificate programs for professional development. Capella is regionally accredited through the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Higher Learning Commission (NCACS-HLC), and it is a particularly popular choice among students because many of its individual academic programs like those in business and information technology are accredited as well. The school was recognized by the CHEA for its institutional practices relating to educational outcomes.
Waldorf College is an online school that also has a physical campus and administrative offices in Forest City, Iowa. The online college offers associate, undergraduate and graduate level degrees in many liberal arts subjects; it also provides continuing education courses and certificate programs. Waldorf College has been accredited by the NCACS-HLC since 1948. The school like many of its online competitor institutions is military friendly, but Waldorf College has the accreditation credentials to back up its claims of providing quality academic programs to service members and their families.
The Virginia College offers career related associate and bachelor degrees in subjects like culinary arts, paralegal studies, cybersecurity and truck driving. The school offers both traditional and online degree programs as well as those that are a mix of the two. Although Virginia College serves many online students, it has campuses all over the South including in Birmingham, Alabama where the school’s main administrative offices are located. Virginia College is nationally accredited through the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools. Students must note that Virginia College may accept transfer credits from nationally and regionally accredited schools, but many regionally accredited universities will not accept transfer credits from nationally accredited schools like VIrginia College.
Liberty University Online
Liberty University Online is a growing branch of the main Liberty University school that is physically located in Lynchburg, Virginia. The variety of its degree offerings and the consistent quality of its programs initially attract students to Liberty University Online. The school is also known for its numerous opportunities for financial aid. Liberty University Online has earned institutional accreditation credentials from both the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools Accreditation Commission.
Institutional accreditation should be a major factor when considering online colleges and universities. Students who opt to attend accredited online colleges can quickly perceive the advantages from obtaining federal financial aid to landing interviews with desired employers.
See also: Top 10 Best Accredited Online Colleges