Advice and Conclusions Regarding Accredited Degreesby Rich Davis
November 30, 1999
Our recommendations are for those students or potential students who fall into two groups: first, those who are considering study at a school with an eye on transferring later to a regionally accredited school (either in the middle of a degree program or by going on to a higher degree). Second, those that have already attended a school and have credits that are unacceptable for transfer.
If You're Considering Distance Learning
If you're considering pursuing college credits and/or a degree by distance learning, your safest option is to do so with a regionally accredited school. Schools accredited by DETC are often more flexible, less time consuming, and less expensive. If you are sure a degree from such a school will meet your present and future needs, then a degree from one of these schools may be a good option. But if you intend to pursue further studies at a regionally accredited school, you might find your credits/degrees unacceptable. Then you're out of luck!
If You're Considering Enrolling in an Unaccredited Degree Program
The same advice applies to those considering study at unaccredited schools, only more so. Students and graduates from unaccredited schools can expect a chilly reception from the admissions offices at regionally accredited schools. Under almost no circumstances will they find their credits and/or degrees acceptable.
If You're Considering Studying at a Foreign School
Students considering study at foreign schools may find better luck; every school contacted accepted credits and degrees from foreign schools. But expect to go through some extra evaluation of your credentials before they are accepted. Increasingly, degree programs are available to people living in the U.S. from universities as far flung as Australia and South Africa.
If You've Earned Credits that Won't be Accepted
If you've already earned credits or degrees, and find that campus schools or online schools are not accepting them, you have several options to consider:
- First, you can take examinations for credit, based on the knowledge you gained from your courses. Thousands of regionally accredited schools will accept these examinations.
- Second, you can prepare a life-experience portfolio for credit; again, based on the knowledge you gained from your courses (and anywhere else in your life)! You could even do the portfolio and have the credits awarded by one school, then transfer those credits to your school of choice.
- Third, you can stay with your school (or a similar one), and accept the limitations that come with it.
When it comes to transferring credits and degrees, regional accreditation has been referred to as the "gold standard." While accreditation doesn't necessarily signify excellence in a school, it almost assuredly means your credits and degrees will be accepted by other accredited schools. But if you stray off the path a bit, the situation gets murkier. Foreign schools seem acceptable, nationally accredited schools much less so. And unaccredited schools--whose degrees may have some utility in the workplace--offer you limited support.
Go for it--go accredited!