When it comes to choosing a college, you should first educate yourself on accreditation and what it means to you as a student. There is a great deal of misinformation on the commonalities and differences between national and regional accreditation. In order to focus on the facts, it’s important to dispel a few myths.
1. National accreditation sounds bigger than regional, so it must be the better type.
There are fundamental differences between regional and national college accreditation, but these differences don’t mean that one type of college accreditation outranks the other.
Historically, nationally accredited institutions offered career-oriented and technical training, while regionally accredited institutions offered liberal arts education.
Today, the distinction is not as clear. Many career-focused institutions enhance their technical training with general education and award doctor’s, master’s, bachelor’s and associate degrees, and technical diplomas. Many regionally accredited institutions now offer direct-to-employment programs such as business administration and paralegal science.
2. You can only transfer credits from colleges with the same accrediting agency.
It is up to the receiving institution to make a determination regarding transferability. That decision may or may not involve accreditation. Most nationally accredited schools accept degrees and courses taken at either regionally or nationally accredited colleges.
3. All colleges have to be accredited.
It’s important to note that being accredited is a choice, not a requirement. Accreditation is a voluntary process, as is the choice between regional and national accreditation. The most important distinction is choosing an organization that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Nationally and regionally accredited institutions accredited by those recognized organizations have all met the same standards of quality and are eligible for federal loan and grant programs.
4. You can’t get federal student loans if the college is nationally accredited.
Both nationally and regionally accredited institutions accredited by organizations recognized by the U.S. Department of Higher Education meet the same quality standards and are eligible for federal and grant programs.
More resources on Accreditation
U.S. Department of Education
Council for Higher Education Accreditation