Regional vs National Accrediting: What Really Makes Them Different?

Let’s put aside regional versus national for just a second and look at what accreditation is in general. To sum it up, accreditation is a verification process, done by third parties, through which higher education institutions can show that they are providing quality education. Prospective students can and should look for accreditation when selecting a university and program to which they want to apply.

It is important to note that every accrediting agency recognized by the US Department of Education (DOE), whether regional or national, is held to the same set of standards.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) outlines why accreditation is so important. One key reason they list is that accreditation is required for any institution wishing to offer federal or state financial aid (including loans and grants) for their programs. Additionally, many employers require an institution to be accredited in order to be eligible for tuition reimbursement programs. In both above cases, students may or may not see this as a factor when deciding where to go for their higher education. However, there is also the assurance accreditation gives of the institution providing high quality education.

So then, what is the difference between Regional and National Accreditation? Let’s take a closer look.

Regional Accreditation

Regional accreditation is, just like it sounds, accreditation focused on a particular region within the United States.

This accreditation applies to state universities, which are popular among high school graduates looking for a more general higher education. Many private schools also have regional accreditation, including ivy league and many liberal arts schools. In fact, regional accreditation was first established to make the process more affordable for larger institutions with a wider variety of programs.

Despite having the same standards from the DOE, individual schools under both regional and national accreditation have independent policies for transfer credits, so it is always wise to check with institutions you are interested in attending to see what courses they will and will not take.

These institutions are also often more expensive and have more competitive admission standards. They are not likely to be trade schools with career-oriented programs.

National Accreditation

On the other hand, national accrediting bodies may have to travel anywhere in the US to complete the verification process. They provide accreditation for private institutions, trade schools, and specialty schools.

Schools with national accreditation are more likely to have specialized, career-focused coursework with fewer general education courses. Along with trade schools, distance education programs such as those at Taft University are common within nationally accredited institutions. These programs tend to be more affordable as well as having flexible scheduling or independently completed courses.

Again, because of different institutional policies, it is recommended that you check with whichever schools you are interested in to make sure that credits will transfer. It is also beneficial to check with licensing bodies to make sure that nationally accredited courses will qualify towards getting licensed – for example, with teachers.

Which is Better?

To be straightforward – neither is better.

In the end, both forms of accreditation are proof that you will get a high-quality education from that institution. There are certain things to take note of and which could be deal breakers, depending on your situation. As with making your decision about the right program, you will simply have to balance your needs with how an institution is accredited to see what will work best for you. There is no clear-cut answer as to which is better than the other.


Author: Megan Menendez

For more information about Taft University’s accreditation, visit our Accreditation and Affiliations page.

For more information about Taft University programs, visit our Academic Programs page.

To get started on your online degree with Taft – or if you have any questions about accreditation – feel free to email admissions@taft.edu or call us at 877-894-TAFT (8238).

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