Regional accreditation says that a school has the highest standards that students must meet in order to graduate with a degree.
Accreditation is the giving of credentials. When a student graduates from an accredited college or university, other schools and potential employers know what the student has achieved. Schools without accreditation lack a known standard. A degree from a non-accredited college or university may say very little about the student.
There are six regional accreditors for schools in the United States of America and other territories.
- The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) decides the accreditation status of schools in the six New England states: Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
- North Central Association Commission on School Accreditation and Improvement (NCA) is responsible for the accreditation of schools in 19 states: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Navajo Nation, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
- The Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) oversees regional accreditation for 162 institutions in in 7 states: Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.
- The mission of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) is the improvement of education in the southern states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia through accreditation. SACS is also accredits schools in Latin America.
- The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accredits public and private schools, colleges, and universities in California and Hawaii, the territories of Guam, American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, the Pacific Basin, and East Asia, and areas of the Pacific and East Asia where American/International schools or colleges may apply to WASC for service and accreditation.
- The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA) accredits institutions located in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as several international locations. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) is the unit of the MSA that accredits degree-granting colleges and universities.
When taking classes or earning a degree through regionally accredited schools, the units are transferable from school to school regardless of region. Schools accredited in any of the six regions respect and recognize the standards of any regionally accredited school.
Nationally Accredited Online Colleges and SchoolsStudents enrolled at regionally accredited schools can expect to be held to rigorous high standards and have access to mentoring whether they are attending class in person or studying online. Regionally accredited schools maintain a level of quality and service for all students enrolled in their programs.
Schools with national accreditation may not have the same quality and standards of education as schools with regional accreditation. Units earned at a nationally accredited school may not transfer to a regionally accredited school, and a degree from a nationally accredited school does not carry the same clout as a degree from a regionally accredited school. Regionally accredited schools are thought to have the highest standards in education.
A distance learner who chooses online schools that enjoy regional accreditation will have access to mentoring, high standards and an accredited online degree that indicates a measurable accomplishment. Regionally accredited schools represent the best investment for students.