Advantages and Disadvantages to Regional and National Accreditation
There are two different ways for a school or program to become recognized officially as accredited: nationally or regionally. Most schools are regionally accredited. According to The Department of Education, over 85 percent of all colleges and universities nationwide are regionally accredited. The majority of accreditation agencies are regional and as a generally rule, most universities will seek a regional accreditation before national accreditation.
For those schools which do acquire a national accreditation, it is very often for a specific program. As most programs are generic across the country and not specific to one region, accreditation agencies that focus on specialized accreditation tend to be national in scope. In this way, a school might be regional accredited for its general accreditation but national accredited for a specific course of study or program.
Which type of accreditation is better?
It is impossibly to objectively state that regional accreditation is better than national accreditation or the that national accreditation is better than regional accreditation. There are many compelling reasons why regional accreditation may be better even for online universities or programs in the end, but that does not rule out the importance of national accreditation when looking for the right school.
Advantages to Regional Accreditation
The main reason that regional accreditation may be considered better is that it is the standard of practice. Objectively, there is not much that distinguishes regional from national accreditation; however, in practice, regional accreditation is the gold standard of college education criteria. If a school is "accredited," most people are referring to regional accreditation.
The other reason why regional accreditation can be important is that it is the system by which schools are compared to each other. When a school is accredited regionally, that means that it meets certain standards of all the other schools that are similarly accredited in the same region. This smaller size of schools to provide a standard to makes it so that schools are generally more comfortable with the quality of education provided by another school in their region. This can be crucial if you decide to transfer part way through a program an need credits to transfer over to the new school.
Advantages to National Accreditation
Although regional accreditation may be the standard of practice for institutions, national accreditation by reputable agencies is the gold standard for specific programs. When you are seeking a degree in a specialized field, it is essential to make sure that the degree program at an institution has been accredited by an agency that is reputable in that field of study. There is simply no way around this.