Regional vs. National Accreditation: Discovering the Differences

Accreditation is equivalent to getting a badge of honor for degree-granting institutions. Schools are as grateful to be approved for providing quality education as students are for receiving degrees in their field. Still, it’s important to know that not all accreditation is the same. Understanding the commonalities, as well as the differences, between regional and national accreditation will help you make a better informed decision about your continued education.

Regional Accreditation

Regional accrediting agencies are mosttly nonprofit organizations who recognize traditional degree-granting institutions. There’s 6 regional accreditors in the United States: Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (SASC) , New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSASC), Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (NWCCU), and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCACASI). Each regional accrediting agency recognizes schools that are in its region, and all of them are accredited by the United States Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Online schools, as well as brick-and-mortar institutions are often accredited by one of the six noteworthy bodies.

National Accreditation

In contrast, national accreditors are for-profit leagues that mostly evaluate specialized schools that don’t fit the character of a conventional institution. Typical examples are technical institutes, career colleges, or religious academies. The Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) is a national accrediting body that recognizes many online institutions while agencies, such as the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), assesses and approves schools with course material or a curriculum design that deviates from the norm.


While it’s best to attend an accredited school over an unaccredited one, you should also consider some obstacles you may face when it comes to choosing a particular type of approved institution. For one, regional accreditation tends to be the most acceptable kind versus national accreditation. Your chances of smoothly entering into the workforce may not be as high with a degree from a nationally recognized college.

Also, switching schools may be challenging as well. It’s crucial to check if you’re trying to transfer credits from a regionally accredited school to a nationally accredited institution (or vise versa), as many transferrable credit policies between the different types of agencies are incompatible.

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