Regional vs National Accreditation: Overview, Similarities, and Differences

The word “accreditation” is not a totally strange word among people searching for or seeking to attend higher institutions of learning, Although many may not fully understand what it means. Accreditation is one of the fundamental criteria that makes an institution come highly recommended or preferred.

It is critical to attend a college or institution that is accredited. Accredited universities can assist you to improve your job chances, financial aid possibilities, and alternatives for continued education. Employers and other institutes of higher learning, on the other hand, frequently see unaccredited colleges as untrustworthy.

Accreditation comes in a variety of forms, each with its own set of goals, processes, and outcomes. This article provides essential accreditation information, such as types of accreditation, differences, and similarities between regional and national accreditation, the accreditation procedure, and answers to frequently asked questions. Kindly read through this article carefully as it promises to be informative and insightful.

To start with, let us examine what accreditation means.

What is Accreditation?

Accreditation signifies that a school has voluntarily submitted to a third-party accrediting agency’s assessment procedure in order to ensure educational standards. The accrediting agency looks at factors like teacher quality, student learning, and professional results, and whether the school uses data-based research to improve its courses and student services during the evaluation.

Accreditation can also be seen as a voluntary quality assurance program in which schools have an outside entity review their programs and policies in order to ensure that students receive a worthwhile and useful education. 

Accreditation is also a procedure in which a college or university is evaluated by an impartial authority to see if it meets academic and ethical requirements. In the United States, this peer-review process is the major means of ensuring educational quality.

Schools can be accredited on a regional or national level. Regional accreditation is the gold standard for liberal arts degrees, whereas national accreditation is often utilized for vocational or trade schools or religious institutions.

Why You Need To Attend An Accredited Intsitution

Students gain from attending an accredited university in a variety of ways. Federal financial aid is only available to students who attend accredited schools, and many schools only accept qualifying degrees and transfer credits earned at approved schools. A degree from an approved institution is also required for numerous professional licenses and certifications.

Accreditation ensures that an institution’s degree programs are recognized by employers as well as other schools and institutions.

For many students, the distinction between regional and national accreditation is critical, and it is an important issue to consider when deciding where to pursue their education.

It is a waste of money and effort to attend an institution that is not recognized on either level. The ideal sort of accreditation for you is determined by criteria such as how many credits will transfer if you move institutions, how employable you will become, tuition reimbursements, and prices.

Now let us examine the types of accreditation.

What is Regional Accreditation?

As the name implies, Regional Accreditation is accreditation by regional accrediting organizations that operate in specific regions of the country. These organizations grant accreditation to schools, colleges, and universities showing that their credits and degrees meet minimum standards and requirements. This is a voluntary process that self-regulates the higher education industry. Qualifying for regional accreditation is a very difficult process that institutions strive hard to earn. 

Regionally accredited colleges are the most academically oriented, non-profit, or state-owned institutions. In the United States, there are six regional accrediting agencies for higher education institutions. Regional accrediting agencies are supervised by the US Department of Education (ED) and the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). These agencies are in charge of institutions in their respective clusters of states. The regional accreditation bodies include: 

1. Middle States Commission on Higher Education

This covers Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

2. New England Association of Schools and Colleges

This body is serving Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

3. North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

Serving Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

4. Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

This body is serving Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

5. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Serving Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

6. Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Covering California, Hawaii, Guam, and American Samoa.

The most interesting thing about having a regional accreditation is that this form of accreditation is The pinnacle of college accreditation; the highest honor. It is also The most well-known sort of college accreditation. With institutions that are regionally accredited, Transfer credits and degrees are generally accepted And All corporate tuition reimbursement plans are available to you. Institutions that are regionally accredited Typically offer instructor-led classes.

What is National Accreditation?

As you may have guessed Correctly, National Accreditation is done by National Accreditation Agencies. They focus on For-profit, faith-based, trade, and vocational institutions. National Accreditation is not as prestigious as regional accreditation because it is not as stringent. All national accrediting bodies are overseen by the Education Department, and nationally recognized institutions are eligible for most federal financial aid programs.

National accreditation agencies focus on accrediting career programs that offer certifications and degrees. Because these institutions have a more narrow concentration, they are less standardized than typical certified schools and must be assessed every three to five years. Many of these organizations in the United States are recognized by the US Department of Education and are not restricted by geography.

There are 2 National Accreditation Agencies most recognized by the CHEA, they are:

  • Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges & Schools (ACICS)
  • Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Council on Occupational Education (COE)
  • Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Accreditation Commission (TRACS)
  • Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
  • Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE)
  • Association of Advanced Rabbinical and Talmudic Schools (AARTS)
  • Association of Theological Schools (ATS)
  • Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET)

Major Similarities Between National Accreditation and Regional Accreditation

National accreditation, which is similar to regional accreditation in many aspects, signifies that a school has undergone a voluntary assessment by a third-party accrediting agency that reviewed the school’s academic programs, student resources, and institutional processes.

Regional and national accreditation are both techniques of ensuring that an entire institution, such as a university, college, community college, or trade school, is providing high-quality education to its students. 

Differences Between National Accreditation and Regional Accreditation

Regional accreditation is a sort of institutional accreditation that is older, more established, and more regarded. Nearly all public and nonprofit private institutions are regionally recognized, whereas trade, career, and for-profit schools are typically nationally accredited. Although it may appear that national accreditation is more prestigious, the contrary is true. National accreditation requirements are less stringent than regional accreditation standards, thus national accreditation is less relevant when moving from one institution to another. Schools that focus on career or religious education are frequently accredited by national accreditation organizations.

Regional accrediting agencies, as the name implies, function in various parts or regions of the country. They accredit a college’s entire instructional network, including online programs and distance learning choices. A variety of schools that provide any or all of these degrees are accredited by regional accreditation bodies:

  • Associate degree
  • Baccalaureate degree 
  • Master’s degree 
  • Doctoral degree

When compared to nationally accredited universities, regionally accredited institutions are frequently more expensive. More liberal arts courses are frequently required in regionally accredited institutions. in regionally accredited schools, Programs that are less career-oriented may be available And Admissions requirements are frequently enforced to be more competitive.

On the other hand, regionally accredited institutions are frequently less expensive than national accredited institutions. It’s also possible that fewer liberal arts coursework will be required in nationally accredited institutions. Majors that are more practical and career-oriented may be available in national accredited institutions, and it is also possible that admissions rules will be loosened in national accredited institutions.

If you later attend a regionally accredited college, your credits may not be generally accepted in transfer. The difference is that credits earned at a regionally accredited institution are more widely accepted. The Coursework and degrees you offered or attained may not be generally accepted for occupations that require licensure following completion of a degree, which could have an impact on your working in licensed professions like teaching, accounting, engineering, and healthcare. Corporate tuition plans are sometimes excluded in nationally accredited institutions. There are instances when self-study courses are offered instead of instructor-led workshops in nationally accredited institutions. 


Now that you have taken your time to read through this article, the concept of accreditation and the types of accreditation have been thoroughly explained. We hope the knowledge and information provided will help you in choosing the right institution to attend.

Please do well to take note and research your institution of choice carefully before applying.

FAQs On Regional vs National Accreditation

Are employers willing to accept degrees that have been accredited by a national body?

Career and technical degrees, vocational programs, and religious institutions are frequently accredited at the national level. Employers in specialized fields will accept nationally accredited degrees if they meet their demands and specifications.

Is it possible to get work with an unaccredited degree?

Because many firms prefer to recruit applicants who have earned an accredited degree, attending an unaccredited institution or university may limit your job options. A lack of accreditation may be interpreted by employers as a sign that the job candidate is not as well-prepared for the position as other candidates.

What are the different types of accreditation for colleges?

Schools may be accredited on a national or regional level. National accreditation is for vocational, technical, faith-based, and for-profit institutions, whereas regional accreditation is for nonprofit, degree-granting institutions. Individual departments or programs within a school receive specialized or programmatic accreditation.

What does it signify when a college or university is not accredited?

A school can evade the norms and requirements imposed on authorized institutions by remaining outside the scope of accreditation. Unaccredited universities may opt to follow their own rules, maintain autonomy, or offer unique programs that fall outside the boundaries of what accreditation allows them to do. It’s also possible that an unaccredited college isn’t a reputable institution of higher learning.

What happens if my college’s accreditation is suspended?

For whatever cause, a school’s accreditation has lapsed, indicating that it no longer meets accrediting standards. It tarnishes an institution’s reputation, leading to a drop in enrollment and, in certain cases, the closure of a school.


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