Differentiating between nationally accredited and regionally accredited schools can be crucial when choosing a degree program. Here is a list of the largest nationally accredited schools.

Nationally accredited schools may be somewhat less expensive than their regionally accredited counterparts. However, you shouldn't consider only cost; it is important to check whether the employers you're interested in working for hire graduates from schools that are only nationally accredited. Some may accept both, but many employers acknowledge degrees only from schools that are certified within their specific region of the United States. Usually, nationally accredited schools have less stringent evaluating standards than do regionally accredited ones. The reason some schools may opt for only national accreditation is because they have less conventional degree programs. They may have different requirements and courses available than other online or brick-and-mortar universities. This could be a good or bad thing, depending on what you want to study. If you are taking courses for personal development or as a hobby (as opposed to for earning a degree), nationally accredited courses can serve your purpose. It can be difficult to transition into the workforce after completing a nationally accredited degree program.

If you complete your associate degree through a nationally accredited program, it can be challenging to transfer to a regionally accredited one for your bachelor's. Most regionally accredited schools do not accept credits from large nationally accredited programs. You may have to start from scratch, losing all of your credits. Regional accreditation has stricter standards, and each online program must be evaluated based on specific requirements for its locality.

There are six regional accreditation agencies that grant certifications in the United States: Middle State Association of Colleges and Schools (Commission on Higher Education); New England Association of Schools and Colleges (Commission on Technical and Career Institutions and Commission on Institutions of Higher Education); North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (The Higher Learning Commission); Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (Commission on Colleges); and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges and Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities).

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