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.
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
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 federal government
agencies support their students attending DETC institutions,
including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FEMA, and
others. Most state and local government agencies that
provide education benefits to their employees will approve
study at DETC institutions.
Does the military community recognize
Yes. The Department of Defense and each
of the military service branches support students studying
at DETC institutions with tuition assistance payments,
education counseling, and institutional information. The
Department of Defense Uniform Tuition Assistance Policy
supports study at all institutions accredited by commissions
recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, such as
the Accrediting Commission of DETC.
DETC institutions actively support military education organizations?
Yes. Most DETC institutions are members of the Servicemembers
Opportunity Colleges (SOC), a consortium of approximately
1400 institutions that pledge to abide by SOC Principles,
Criteria, and Guidelines in serving their military students.
This commitment involves establishing and practicing military-friendly
policies associated with admissions, transfer of credit,
residency, and other matters that support the specific
educational needs of military students. The DETCs' Executive
Director serves as the Vice Chair of the SOC Advisory
Board. DETC members actively participate in the Council
of Colleges and Military Educators (CCME) with exhibits
and panel presentations. DETC member institutional representatives
exhibit and present presents at each of the triennial
Department of Defense Worldwide Education Symposia. DETC's
Executive Director served as the Co-Chair of the DoD Task
Force to develop principles of good practice for distance
education institutions enrolling military students. In
addition, since 1975 the Marine Corps Institute, the Air
Force Institute for Advanced Distributed Learning, and
the Army Institute for Professional Development have been
accredited by DETC. Collectively, these three institutions
enroll almost one million military members in DETC- accredited
|Are DETC institutions
members of the SOC Degree Networks?
Not at this time. Entry into the SOC Degree Networks
(SOCAD, SOCMAR, SOCNAV, etc.) requires applicant institutions
to obtain guaranteed transferability agreements with current
member institutions for the proposed courses and programs.
DETC institutions have applied for network membership
in the past, but network institutions have not agreed
to accept the courses in transfer. With DETC institutions,
which specialize in distance learning, there is no need
to transfer institutions upon change of station or discharge/retirement.
You may continue your studies from around the globe and
complete your degree without transferring institutions.
|Will a degree from
a DETC institution count towards officer commissioning programs?
Yes. Education qualifications for officer commissioning
programs require credits or a degree from an institution
accredited by a recognized accrediting body. For commissioning
programs through the Reserve Officer Training Corps programs,
cadets must complete their commissioning studies in residence
at an institution offering ROTC; therefore, DETC institutions
do not offer ROTC programs.
Are degrees and credits earned
from DETC institutions accepted by other academic institutions?
Usually. The decision to accept or deny transfer credit
rests with the receiving institution and is based on
publicly state policies pertaining to quality, comparability,
and applicability. Our 2006 survey of DETC graduates
showed that of those who attempted to transfer credits
and degrees, 70% were successful.
DETC accreditation, or any accreditation for that matter,
is not a guarantee that credit will transfer to anothery
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. If you
encounter an institution that intends to deny your earned
credits in transfer based on DETC's accreditation, you
should contact your DETC institution's registrar or
admissions officer for assistance in gaining acceptance
of your credits at another institution. The American
Council on Education (ACE) 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
What type of institutions are
members of the DETC?
DETC currently accredits more than 100 institutions.
They are degree-granting, postsecondary (vocational and
technical), 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 that are relevant to your
military career or will prepare you for transition to
a civilian career upon your discharge or retirement: 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 specific needs.
The nearly 100 DETC member institutions
represent a diverse group of training and education institutions
providing relevant and affordable programs in the technical,
management, business, liberal arts, military studies,
intelligence, engineering, education, and other fields
of study. For a complete listing of programs by institution,
Who are the military students that
enroll in DETC-accredited institutions and programs?
DETC institutions serve more than three
million civilian students around the globe, primarily
adult learners. An estimate quarter million military members
enroll in DETC institutions. They average in age about
27, and the students are typically at the mid-point of
their military careers. They include officers and enlisted
personnel at every level, from Privates to General Officers.
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 Military Student Advantages
Why are DETC schools a good choice
for the military student?
The military service branches, like all
successful companies, need to develop their human capital.
They must work constantly to ensure they have a workforce
with a strong knowledge base. They need to retain valuable
people. Voluntary education is a great way to do this.
The affordability and flexibility of distance education
programs at DETC institutions meet the educational needs
of both the military and the servicemember.
DETC members' tuition is generally well
below most institutions in their category. Since their
programs are offered through distance learning, they enable
military students to study anywhere they may be stationed
in the world, including combat theaters. They allow students
to study outside of normal duty hours and in exotic locales.
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% of employers in a DETC survey said
would encourage their employees to enroll in accredited
distance education programs.
What are the advantages of attending
a DETC accredited institution?
DETC institutions are truly Military
Friendly! Students are given opportunities to enroll
in reputable, challenging courses and degree programs
- Offered on a 24/7 basis. This allows service members
the opportunity to earn a college degree at night,
weekends, etc. This is especially attractive to military
members who work odd duty hours at night or on weekends
scattered around the globe.
- DETC students are satisfied customers! Over 97%
of DETC graduates say they would recommend their school
to others, and over 97% said they were satisfied with
their experiences with their DETC institution.
- A large variety of training courses and programs
offered from outstanding institutions
- DETC institutions are flexible in how they allow
students to study and take temporary leaves of absence
due to TDY.
- DETC institutions comply with SOC guidelines in
allowing the maximum amount of credit transfer and
credit for military training.
- Military members are assured of receiving the best
student services available and best treatment by DETC
institutions, due to DETC's 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 knowledge
and practices and day-to-day experience to the online
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