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Frequently Asked Questions

Accreditation

Is there such a thing as distance education accreditation?

Distance study accreditation is an institution-wide, national accreditation that covers all distance study courses offered by an institution. It is unique in American accreditation because it is based upon a method of instruction rather than educational level or subject matter discipline. It covers all programs, courses, and distance study endeavors of an institution, including degree, non-degree, vocational, and avocational programs. Unlike regional or specialized accrediting agencies, the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) provides distance education institutions with a single source of national recognition. For more information on distance education accreditation you may visit DETC's website.

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What is accreditation and how do I know if a school or program is accredited?

Accrediting agencies are private educational associations of regional or national scope that develop criteria and conduct peer evaluations to assess whether or not those criteria are met. Institutions or programs that meet an agency's criteria are thereby "accredited." Both the federal government and the states use accreditation as an indication of the quality of education offered by American schools and colleges. At the federal level, colleges and universities must be accredited by an agency recognized by the United States Secretary of Education in order for it or its students to receive federal funds.

Accreditation does not provide automatic acceptance by an institution of credit earned at another institution, nor does it give assurance of acceptance of graduates by employers. Acceptance of students or graduates is always the prerogative of the receiving institution or employer. For these reasons, besides ascertaining the accredited status of a school or program, students should take additional measures to determine, prior to enrollment, whether or not their educational goals will be met through attendance at a particular institution. These measures should include inquiries to institutions to which transfer might be desired or to prospective employers and, if possible, personal inspection of the institution at which enrollment in contemplated.

Private postsecondary schools and colleges are approved by the State with oversight authority vested in the Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE). The BPPE also approves non-degree granting vocational schools and programs leading to licensing. State approval is not the same as accreditation. Some state approved institutions are accredited, while others are not. For additional information about schools approved by BPPE, you may contact the Bureau or access their website:
Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education
P.O. Box 980818
West Sacramento, CA 95798-0818
Phone: (916) 574-7720

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What is the difference between accreditation and approval?

Accreditation means that an institution has been recognized as meeting the standards established by an accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education, or the Committee of Bar Examiners for the State of California.

Private postsecondary schools and colleges are approved by the State with oversight authority vested in the Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE). State Approval means the institution meets minimum standards established by BPPE for integrity, financial stability, and educational quality.

What is WASC?

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) purpose is to promote the welfare, interests, and development of elementary, secondary, and higher education through improvement of educational programs, close cooperation among the schools, colleges, and universities within the territory it undertakes to serve, certification of accreditation or candidacy status, and effective working relationships with other educational organizations and accrediting agencies. WASC and the other five regional associations in the United States grant institutional accreditation after a comprehensive self-study followed by an on-site evaluation of the programs and services of the total institution. For further information about WASC you may contact:

The Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities
985 Atlantic Avenue Suite 100
Alameda, CA 94501
(510) 748-9001

or

The Accrediting Commission for Community of Junior Colleges
10 Comercial Blvd , Ste 204
Novato CA 94949
(415)506-0234

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