National Accreditation vs Regional Accreditation

Page content

Are Both Legitimate Accreditations?

The United States Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) does not discriminate degrees obtained from a school that has national accreditation or regional accreditation. Receiving financial aid is also no bar to students whichever form of accreditation they might have opted for. This is because the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) otherwise known as national accreditation and all regional accreditation boards undertake a comprehensive evaluation before granting accreditation to any school.

Note: One thing which is important to know here is that sometimes credits obtained from DETC accredited schools are given less preference as compared to those of regionally accredited schools. There are a number of schools which simply reject the whole transcripts obtained from a school with DETC accreditation and the the transcripts of a regionally accredited school is valued more. This may be viewed as the bad side of having credits from DETC accreditation colleges. But, this is not the case always. There are more than 60% schools which value credits from schools with DETC accreditation. It has only to be borne in mind that rejection is very much possible but at the same time acceptance is completely unconditional, so do your homework and make a sound judgment before signing the dotted line.

Regional Accreditation

The Regional Accreditation network consists of six agencies – each having jurisdiction over a clearly demarcated region of USA. These boards accord approval to both conventional as well as online schools. It can be stated, without fear of contradiction, that regional boards are older than national accreditation boards and thus more rampantly seen form of accreditation.

All regionally accredited schools predictably accept credits and degrees from other regionally accredited schools and generally none of these schools try to belittle or undermine another regionally accredited school. Thus, with a degree from a regionally accredited institution, students can, with less difficulty, transfer from one school to another. The six regional accrediting agencies are:

  • North Central Association (NCA)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)

National Accreditation

National accreditation is more recent in origin. As a matter of fact, the national accreditation agency started sometime around the middle of last century initially as the National Home Study Council. Its purpose then was to establish industry standards for correspondence schools – particularly schools offering job-oriented vocational courses.

But by 1980, the national accreditation agency accredited two bachelor degree programs. National accreditation has now grown and today accredits dozens of schools including even a few schools offering research doctorates. The scenario is changing and degrees from nationally accredited schools are finding acceptance both within the educational community and in employment market.

Though this type of accreditation is acceptable as valid by many employers, several regionally accredited schools do not accept course credits from national accredited schools. Notwithstanding the fact that a DETC survey has claimed 70% of their graduates succeeded in transferring credits, it is necessary to know that some colleges have policies to only accept transfers from regionally accredited schools.

Distinction Between the Two Forms of Accreditation

It is essential that a student should know the distinction between national and regional accrediting agencies to make an informed decision about his educational career. Whether to opt for a regional or national accreditation should largely depend on the student’s future educational career. It is important to know that while most nationally accredited institutions will accept transfer credits from regionally accredited institutions, the regionally accredited institutions may not accept transfer credits from nationally accredited institutions.

If the degree the student is pursuing is his final degree and he intends to complete education at the same school, accreditation is not consequential. But if a student is likely to change schools before completing the degree, or intends to pursue post graduation studies, or keen on gaining employment with companies that are concerned with accreditation issues, the student may then be well-advised to opt for a regionally accredited institution.


National vs Regional Accreditation -