"An online degree is an academic degree (usually a college degree, but sometimes the term includes high school diplomas and non-degree certificate programs) that can be earned primarily or entirely through the use of an Internet-connected computer, rather than attending college in a traditional campus setting. Improvements in technology, the increasing use of the Internet worldwide, and the need for people to have flexible school schedules while they are working have led to a proliferation of online colleges that award associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees."
The most critical issue in getting online degrees is accreditation. According to United States Department of Education, the goal of Accreditation is to ensure the minimum level of quality in courses. Similarly ENQA, European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education defines the role of accreditation as ensuring accountability and maintaining quality. It means that accreditation serves twofold needs of ensuring accountability and maintaining quality in online programs and campus courses.
When a student or working professional wants to join an accredited online degree program, he needs to understand the framework of accreditation available. At least he must know that the degree he is going to enroll is considered valid in the job market and recognized by the accreditation agencies. This will save time and cost incurred otherwise.
Accreditation in U.S.A - In U.S.A the accreditation for online courses is done by Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). This body is recognized by US Department of Education and Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Apart from DETC, there are six regional accreditation bodies who are most powerful and popularly known for accreditation in U.S.A. These are responsible to accredit all academic bodies in their regions
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
- Northwest Accreditation Commission
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Thus in information age and virtual world going for an accredited online degree program is a win win decision which saves your time, resources and puts you apart from others in matter of performance and achievements.