Having a college degree from an accredited school is a stepping stone to a better career. However, not all accreditations are alike. Regional accreditation is generally considered to be superior to national accreditation, because the standards set by the regional accrediting agencies are more rigorous. However, having a degree from a nationally accredited college or university might not limit your career options.
One of the main issues with national accreditation is that it is often linked to online colleges and universities. Many "diploma mills" offer online degrees with no legitimate accreditation. When choosing a school for your education, make sure the accrediting agency itself is legitimate.
Recognized national accrediting agencies include the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT), the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) and the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). Be aware of dubious accrediting agencies. You can find a list through the Geteducated.com website.
If you have an associate degree from a nationally accredited college or university, you may have to start your college career over if you want to transfer those credits to a regionally accredited institution. Many regionally accredited colleges and universities will not recognize the credits from a nationally accredited school.
If you intend to obtain an associate degree from a nationally accredited school because it is cheaper, you may want to reconsider. It may cost you more money in the long run if you have to retake courses to further your education elsewhere. It might be best to shop around for a bargain priced regionally accredited school.
Get a Job
Whether you have an associate degree, a bachelor's degree or higher from a nationally accredited school, you can still get a rewarding career position if you do your homework. Most employers do not really know the difference between the two types of accreditation, so it might not make any difference where you get your degree. If you have yet to choose a school and are considering a nationally accredited school, be sure to do your homework and know whether the career field you are entering might require that you later go to graduate school somewhere where you might need a regionally accredited degree. If having a degree is the only requirement for your career choice, be careful to choose a program that will adequately prepare you for that career.
Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.