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July 2015

Choosing a University or College - What is the difference between a nationally accredited and a regionally accredited school?

When choosing a school there are many factors to consider and many places to go for information, however if you are thinking about a college education one of the first things you should consider is the type of education that you are looking for. Ask yourself some important questions, see below.


So many choices...

1. Do I want to learn a specific skill?

2. How many years am I prepared to spend in college?

3. Am I willing to take general education courses such as math and science?

4. Do I want a degree where my credits can be transferred to other Universities and Colleges anywhere in the United States?

5. Is there a possibility that I would like to obtain a professional license or certificate from my training?

6. Will I be interested in pursuing a higher degree in the future?

The difference between a nationally accredited school and a regionally accredited school can be huge, on the surface one would think that a nationally accredited program is better and accepted in more places but the opposite is true, students who wish to continue their education should attend a regionally accredited school. 

Nationally accredited schools work well for job skills and basic technical training; e.g. to become a mechanic- this is a hands on profession and many programs from nationally accredited schools are sponsored by the automobile companies. There are limited general education classes and students cannot transfer credits into a bachelors degree at a regionally accredited University. Often certificate courses and diplomas are earned quickly and students are able to enter the work force in a short time with a specific skill.


Different Accreditations for Different Careers

Regionally accredited schools are traditional colleges and universities, students may start with an associate degree, then move on to a bachelors degree, a masters degree and then a doctoral program. There are usually about 60 credit hours of general education in a bachelors degree program so a student must be prepared to do these and to spend time reading and studying. It can take many years to obtain a degree and then a graduate may still not have a specific skill. Degrees from regionally accredited schools may be less specialized than a diploma from a nationally accredited school but generally these degrees are more versatile and will open many doors in different fields.

How do I find out if a school is regionally or nationally accredited?  The best thing to do is to perform a search online. If you find the accreditation and it is a really long name and you are still not sure what type it is, copy and paste it into your search engine.

Happy hunting!



College Advisor: I have worked in education for many years teaching business and information studies and advising students on which college program to take and which university to attend. I have helped hundreds of students with college applications. If you need a life coach to help you with anything related to education, please email me at [email protected] I can help you to set goals and give you the benefit of my experience.