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The problem of accreditation can be a major pitfall for students seeking a useful degree. Any school may claim to be accredited and many unrecognized accreditation commissions exist.
There are six regional accrediting associations in the United States recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. A degree earned from an online school accredited by one of these associations is sure to be considered valid by any employer or regular university.
These are the agencies recognized by the Department of Education which grant regular public and private universities their accreditation. If the school or college from which you receive your degree is accredited by one of these agencies, that degree will be universally recognized. It is unlikely that you will find an educational institution offering accredited degrees claiming "regional accreditation" that is not accredited by one of the following, but if it is in question, accreditation can be verified. Each of the following agencies has a database of the institutions it has accredited.
Criteria used by mainstream regionally accredited institutions for granting accredited degrees tend to require the student to spend enormous quantities of time or money on their education (usually, the more money, the less time and vice-versa) with assessment of competence (often irritatingly referred to as "competencies") taking a distant second place. Among some of the marginalized accreditation organizations, competence is paramount.
Other accrediting institutions exist, however, and it is by no means clear that their assessments and criteria are inferior. However, the regional accrediting agencies listed above have conspired to marginalize all others in an effort to monopolize academic legitimacy. By wielding their accreditation grants so as to prevent colleges from accepting or recognizing credits, diplomas or degrees from otherwise accredited institutions, they maintain a stranglehold on the accreditation process, the result being that no other accreditation agency, however high its standards might be, has any hope of achieving legitimacy, at least in the U.S.
Unfortunately, the fact that other accreditation organizations not recognized by those six regional agencies have no hope of being so recognized, leaves them with little incentive to make assessments using equivalent criteria and resultant educational quality is questionable. Though regionally accredited academic institutions may also be of similarly questionable quality, their qualifications remain unquestioned.
Online degree programs have become a very viable alternative to traditional classes and may well provide an excellent education. They may be well accepted in the workplace but, unless regionally accredited, they may not serve to legitimize credentials to teach or otherwise hold positions in higher education where regional accreditation maintains monopolistic control.