What is accreditation?
Accreditation is a voluntary process that
gives public recognition to institutions that meet certain
standards. It is a promise that an institution will provide
the quality of education it claims to offer and provide
consumer protection. Accreditation assures the student
that the institution operates on a sound financial basis,
has an approved program of study, qualified instructors,
adequate facilities and equipment, effective recruitment
and admission policies, and advertises its courses truthfully.
Some Functions of Accreditation
- Verifying that an institution or program meets
- Assisting prospective students in identifying acceptable
- Assisting institutions in determining the acceptability
of transfer credits;
- Helping to identify institutions and programs for
the investment of public and private funds;
- Protecting an institution against harmful internal
and external pressure;
- Creating goals for self-improvement of weaker programs
and stimulating a general raising of standards among
- Involving the faculty and staff comprehensively
in institutional evaluation and planning;
- Establishing criteria for professional certification
and licensure and for upgrading courses offering such
- Providing one of several considerations used as
a basis for determining eligibility for Federal assistance.
For more information on accreditation in
the U.S. visit: http://www.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/index.html
Are there different types of accreditation?
Types of accreditation are usually categorized
as either institutional or programmatic (specialized).
Institutional accreditation extends to an entire organization
and its full range of operations. Programmatic or specialized
accreditation extends to a specific academic program,
such as an institution’s nursing, law, business,
or other specific degree program. With respect to accrediting
bodies, they are generally described as regional or national,
with regional bodies accrediting institutions physically
located within their geographical region, while national
accrediting bodies are not bound by geography.
Why is accreditation important?
Accreditation is a uniquely American invention.
It is one of the principal reasons that the United States
has many of the most prestigious universities in the world,
and one of the most robust public and private educational
systems in the world.
Much like an inspector’s seal of approval,
accreditation lets people know if they should have confidence
in a college or school before enrolling or before authorizing
Accreditation helps employers, prospective
students and the general public in identifying quality
educational institutions. Few students or companies have
the resources or time to investigate the more than 6,000
educational institutions operating in the USA. Accreditation
does the work of consumer protection and quality identification
without government funding. It is a free public service
to the nation.
Accreditation is important for many reasons,
and the most important are: protecting the public from
fraudulent diploma mills, helping students select institutions
and programs that meet standards of academic quality and
ensuring that American colleges, universities and schools
remain among the finest in the world.
What is the difference between
National and Regional accreditation?
Like the regional accrediting agencies,
the DETC Accrediting Commission is reviewed periodically
by the U.S. Department of Education to make certain that
it meets the criteria for federal recognition as published
in Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations. This recognition
criteria is the same for national accrediting agencies
and regional agencies. One difference between regional
and national accreditation is that national accreditors
have a single specialization, such as continuing education
and training, distance education, independent colleges,
etc. whereas regional accreditors do not. DETC, for example,
specializes in accrediting distance learning institutions—those
are the only institutions DETC accredits. Regional accrediting
bodies evaluate both distance education and "traditional"
resident colleges and universities.
Some people still believe regional accreditation
is the “only” or “best” type of
accreditation. This is simply no longer true. National
accreditation—from a recognized agency like the
DETC—has the same high standards and USDE and CHEA
recognition. Distance learning schools enjoy DETC accreditation
because the DETC is the oldest and most experienced distance
learning institution accreditor. DETC offers many services
to its member schools and is active in educating its institutions
and the public about quality distance education. We believe
this bias toward regional accreditation will continue
to diminish with time.
Some DETC schools are also accredited by
regional accrediting agencies. Accreditation is a voluntary
process, and schools decide whether to apply to the DETC,
a regional agency, or both.
Carol Griffiths, the Acting Director of
the Accreditation and State Liaison of the United States
Department of Education composed a letter in January 2011
confirming that DETC meets the exact same standards as
all other recognized agencies. Click
here to read the letter.
Are there other distance learning
Yes. Most accrediting bodies evaluate distance
learning programs at their member institutions. However,
DETC specializes in accrediting only institutions that
have a majority of their programs offered through distance
learning. DETC has been specializing in distance learning
accreditation for more than 80 years and is the only such
specialized accrediting body recognized by the US Department
How do I know I can trust an accrediting
Along with diploma mills, accreditation
mills are currently used to fool consumers into paying
for seemingly legitimate certificates and degrees. Diploma
mills now cite fraudulent accreditors because consumers
are aware that accreditation is especially important when
choosing an online school. Consumers should only trust
schools with accrediting agencies (either national or
regional) recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
The USDE is required by law to publish a list of recognized
accrediting agencies that the Secretary determines to
be reliable authorities on the quality of education or
training provided by the institutions of higher education
they accredit. An agency seeking national recognition
by the Secretary must meet the Secretary’s procedures
and criteria. Once recognized by the Secretary, these
accrediting agencies are reviewed every 5 years. For a
full list of all national and regional accrediting agencies
recognized by the Secretary of Education visit: http://www.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg6.html#NationallyRecognized
What is DETC?
The Distance Education and Training Council
is a nationally recognized accrediting agency established
in 1926. Its independent Accrediting Commission specializes
in evaluating and accrediting distance learning institutions.
DETC is a global leader in advancing distance education
and is a highly respected leader in national and state
affairs. For a brief history of DETC click
Is DETC a recognized accrediting
The DETC’s Accrediting Commission
is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (ED)
and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Recognition by ED since 1959 and CHEA and its predecessors
since 1973 means that these organizations have determined
that DETC meets their respective standards and is regarded
as a credible evaluator of institutional and program quality.
What type of accreditation is
provided through DETC?
DETC accredits entire institutions and the
programs they offer. Since DETC only accredits institutions
that offer more than half of their programs through distance
learning, the Accrediting Commission’s examining
teams are experienced specialists and practitioners who
ensure that an institution’s programs and services
are designed and delivered appropriately for distance
What are DETC’s accreditation
DETC’s independent Accrediting Commission
has adopted 12 broad standards that cover the full range
of an institution’s academic, financial/business,
student services, learning assessment, and other essential
operations. Institutions conduct a comprehensive self-evaluation,
submit a self-evaluation report to the Commission, and
host a site visit by an examining team of peer reviewers.
The team issues a report to the institution and commission
and makes recommendations for initial or continuing accreditation,
opportunities for advancement, and may issue stipulations
based on their findings.
Are DETC’s standards as
high or stringent as those of regional accrediting bodies?
Accrediting bodies are not compared or
evaluated against each other. All accrediting bodies are
essentially autonomous and are differentiated by their
standards, criteria, policies, and operations to the point
that comparing one to another is highly subjective. “Similar,
but different” is likely the best way to describe
the various institutional accreditors. Institutions that
hold both regional and national accreditation generally
state that, in combination, the respective accreditation
standards provide both broader and more in-depth evaluations
of an institution’s operations.
There are some distinctive differences to
DETC’s version of accreditation that truly sets
it apart from regional bodies, that are not specialists
in distance learning evaluation as DETC is:
- DETC accreditation is twice as frequent: DETC does
a complete, fresh review every five years, not every
7 or 10 years as most regionals do.
- DETC does an in-depth program by program individual
evaluation of curricula, before any students may be
enrolled, using qualified professors and teachers
primarily from regionally accredited universities.
Regionals are not equipped to do individual content
reviews of each program a college offers.
- DETC accreditation standards are specific to the
distance education environment, and they go into far
more depth on the unique aspects of learning at a
distance by various modes than any general set of
accrediting criteria. Subject matter experts, for
example, measure a distance program against more than
100 different points of measurement, ranging from
outcomes to reading level to depth of examinations
to examination turn around time.
- DETC has far more extensive, specific and comprehensive
and prescriptive standards for marketing practice,
financial assessment, refund policies, and consumer
protection rules than any regional agency. DETCs’
national minimum tuition refund policy is a model
for others. And DETC has standards that address Internet
marketing tactics and affirmative consumer disclosures.
- DETC has one of the most practical, time-tested
outcomes assessment procedures for institutions to
follow that is felt to be far more prescriptive and
specific than the generalized outcomes processes of
most regional bodies.
- DETC has specialized in perfecting standards and
rules for distance study institutions for over a half
century. DETC has conducted over 3,000 onsite accrediting
visits to distance education institutions since 1955,
making it the clear leader in distance learning accreditation
from an experience perspective.
DETC’s staff has, collectively, over
a century of tenure with DETC, giving it one of the richest
repositories of corporate memory about distance learning
accreditation in the world today.
How often does DETC evaluate its
DETC accredits institutions for no more
than five years. This means that its institutions are
more frequently evaluated that those accredited by most
regional bodies, which evaluate established institutions
on a 7-10 year cycle. Additionally, DETC evaluates institutional
requests for new programs, changes in locations and ownership,
and other substantive changes that occur between accreditation
Is DETC’s accreditation
accepted by the federal, state, and local governments?
Yes. Recognition by the U.S. Department
of Education qualifies DETC institutions and students
for federal aid, such as military tuition assistance,
government tuition reimbursement, Veterans Administration
entitlement programs, and, for qualified institutions,
Title IV Federal Student Aid programs. Many government
agencies support their students attending DETC institutions,
including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FEMA, and
Do other companies recognize and
support students studying at DETC institutions?
Yes. thousands of leading companies provide
tutition assistance to students attending DETC institutions,
including the largest employer in the USA - the Federal
Government. Through the U.S. Department of Defense and
the voluntary education tuition program, the federal government
pays the tuition for tens of thousands of military members
at DETC institutions. DETC institutions rank in the very
top tier of all colleges and universities in the support
given to military students. In addition, the Marine Corps
Institute, the Air Force Institute for Advanced Distributed
Learning and the Army Institute for Professional Development
are each accredited by DETC and have been since 1975.
Collectively, these three institutes enroll almost 1 million
military members in DETC accredited distance programs.
For a partial list of sponsoring companies
Are degrees and credits earned
from DETC institutions accepted by other academic institutions?
Our 2006 survey of DETC graduates showed
that of those who attempted to transfer credits and degrees,
70% were successful.
Acceptance of degrees or credits from DETC-accredited
institutions is largely determined by the policy of the
"receiving organization," e.g., an employer,
a college registrar, etc. DETC accreditation is not a
guarantee that credit will transfer to any college or
university. You should always check with the college or
university that you wish to transfer your credits to before
you enroll in a course. The American Council on Education
reviews courses of DETC-accredited institutions and makes
credit recommendations that are published annually in
"The National Guide to Educational Credit for Training
Programs" or call Oryx Press at 1-800-279-ORYX.
What type of institutions are
members of the DETC?
DETC currently accredits more than 100 institutions.
They are degree-granting, postsecondary, military and
high schools. DETC schools are both domestic and foreign-based.
For a complete listing of DETC institutions, click
What type of programs do DETC
DETC institutions offer a wide range of
programs and areas of study for your employees: associate,
bachelor, master and professional doctorate degree programs;
academic and vocational certificates; continuing education
units (CEUs); high school diplomas; and, specialized online
and correspondence training modules that can be customized
to your company's specific needs.. For a complete listing
of programs by institution, click
Who are the students that enroll
in DETC-accredited institutions and programs?
DETC institutions serve more than 3 million
students around the globe, primarily adult learners pursuing
their education while employed, with about 40% receiving
tuition assistance from their employer. Postsecondary
and college students are in their 30s, approximately half
are female, and complete their programs at a rate (approximately
70%) above traditional college students.
What’s the difference between
for-profit institutions and the traditional public/private
colleges and universities?
Theoretically, whether an institution is
operated as a for-profit entity or not should be transparent
to students and employers. For-profit institutions are
not subsidized by public funds, private donations, endowments,
or gifts. All institutions must be financially viable
to maintain their accreditation, regardless of the source(s)
of revenue or income. For-profit institutions must focus
on the quality of their product (academic programs and
services) to recruit and retain their students, who are
regarded as consumers, or student customers. Much of the
net income or profit generated from operations in for-profit
institutions is invested in strengthening and expanding
its programs and services.
DETC Corporate and Student Advantages
Why are DETC schools a good choice
for my company?
Successful companies are those that develop
their human capital, developing a strong knowledge base
through retention of valuable employees and building their
competitive advantage. The affordability and flexibility
of distance education programs at DETC institutions meet
the educational needs of both the company and the employee.
Their tuition is generally well below most institutions
in their category, Since their programs are mostly offered
through distance learning, they enable your employees
to study outside of normal business hours and at home.
Their programs range from short training courses to full
academic degrees and in many cases, course materials and
texts are included in the course and tuition costs. DETC
students report high rates of satisfaction with their
studies, with more than 97% being overall satisfied with
their experience and the same percentage willing to recommend
their institution to a friend. Employers surveyed by DETC
report high levels of satisfaction with DETC graduates
and 93% would encourage their employees to enroll in accredited
distance education programs.
What are the advantages of attending
a DETC accredited institution?
Students are given opportunities to enroll
in reputable courses and degree programs that are:
- Offered on a 24/7 basis. This allows employees
the opportunity to earn a college degree at night,
weekends, etc. This is especially attractive to shift
workers that are mandated to have mandatory industry
training or just to enhance knowledge or skills.
- A large variety of training courses and programs
offered from outstanding institutions.
- Save Money – In utilizing a DETC distance
education program for training staff, a corporation
will keep its staff on the job and productive during
the day while they train at night and on weekends.
- Save Money – DETC institutions have the ability
to offer customizable training programs allowing a
corporation to avoid wasting valuable training dollars
on unneeded topics
- Save Money - By investing in its staff a corporation
will enjoy the benefits of higher morale, higher job
loyalty and reduced turnover
- Make Money – By training its staff with DETC
distance education programs a corporation can be assured
it will produce an expertly trained staff with the
latest industry specific knowledge resulting in increased
productivity. The DETC accreditation provides this
assurance because of its strict and frequent reviews.
- Practitioner Faculty – Most DETC institutional
faculty members are current practitioners in the subjects
they teach, bringing relevant and up-to-date industry
good practices and day-to-day experience to the classroom.
Are DETC recognized by corporate
Yes, Many Fortune 100 companies support
their employees study at DETC institutions. Additionally,
the federal government provides military tuition assistance
and civilian tuition reimbursement support to members
wishing to study at DETC institutions.
Do other institutions accept credits
from other DETC institutions?
Yes. Surveys of transferring students document
that nearly 70% of DETC students are successful in having
their credits accepted in transfer to other accredited