What Does it Mean if a School Has Distance Learning Accreditation?

When choosing a new college, you should always look at the accreditation of the school, and if you need help choosing a new online program, you should check the distance learning accreditation of that school. Distance learning programs offer an alternative to traditional classroom learning, but some of these programs suffer from specific problems and issues. The schools do not prepare students for their future careers or even for earning a full degree. Schools with accreditation from a governing body will better prepare you for your future educational and career goals.

What is Accreditation?

Accreditation is a unique process that looks at both a school and the programs that it offers. The Distance Education and Training Council is responsible for accrediting distance education programs in the United States. When looking at nontraditional schools, make sure that it has distance learning education from the DETC. Distance learning programs once required that students studied at home, completed assignments and tests and mailed back their work to the school. Newer distance learning programs rely on the Internet. Many schools use the Blackboard system, which lets students log in and access learning materials, lectures and more.

The Accreditation Process

According to the DETC, the distance learning accreditation process requires three steps. During the first phase, the school must evaluate itself and its programs. Faculty members and those working in administration positions create a detailed report that shows how the school meets the standards of the DETC. The DETC will then send a team of people to the school. That team meets with faculty members and other workers, goes over the school’s degrees and programs and ensures that the campus meets the minimum standards in place by the organization. The DETC Commission will then go over the evaluation report and the report by its team to determine if the school deserves accreditation. The DETC performs regular checks on distance learning schools and can revoke accreditation if the school changes its guidelines or policies later.

Find Accreditation

As a future student, you might have trouble finding the accreditation of a school. The best schools list accreditation right on the home page or on a separate page, while the worst schools hide information about their accreditation on the website or don’t list that information online. If you cannot find that information on the school website, search the database on the Department of Education website. This database will tell you who gave the school accreditation and any problems with its accreditation.

Potential Warning Signs

In addition to the accreditation of an online school or distance learning program, you also want to look at the reputation of the school and any controversies surrounding that school. Several online and nontraditional schools drew ire after information came out about its low graduation rates and the inability of students to transfer credits to other institutions.

Accreditation is one of the most important factors to consider when enrolling in college. Schools can have accreditation from national, regional or specialty organizations, but if you enroll in an online or distance education program, the school should have distance learning accreditation through the DETC, which frequently reviews the schools granted accreditation from that organization.

Related Resource: Differences Between Online and Onground Accreditation