Unrecognized Accrediting Agencies


Unrecognized accrediting agencies operate under the impression that they are legitimate schools (photo courtesy of Freelancer’s Guide on flickr).

The demand for distance education opportunities expands practically on a daily basis. In fact, according to a study conducted in 2012, more than 6.7 million students took an online class for credit during the fall 2012 semester alone; that equates to roughly one-third of all enrolled college students in the United States. With this growth, more and more unrecognized schools are opening and offering distance education degree programs to hardworking students seeking better career opportunities. Unfortunately, without a recognized accrediting agency, a degree becomes essentially worthless.

What is a “Diploma Mill?”

Colleges and universities with unrecognized accrediting agencies have been dubbed “diploma mills” in recent years; this is due to their nature of pumping out degrees without formal accreditation. Recognized accrediting agencies are those in which the US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation deem acceptable by practice.

How do I know if a School is Recognized?

A school’s accrediting agency should be displayed on the college website and in the current catalog. Once determined, the agency can be searched for on the Department of Education website and on the CHEA website. In addition, students can search for colleges and universities on the CHEA website, if the accrediting body cannot be found.

Remember, however, believe it or not it is not against the law for a school to say they are accredited by a recognized agency without actually holding accreditation from them. Always, always, always look up the accreditation for a distance education college before enrolling and paying tuition. Schools without US DOE recognized accreditation cannot offer student’s federal financial aid; this may leave you with high-interest private loans or a large tuition billed to be paid in cash.

Unrecognized Accrediting Agencies

The list of unrecognized agencies can, theoretically, change daily. Many diploma mills actually operate their own unrecognized accrediting agency in order to appear legitimate. Below is a list of some of the well-known, unrecognized accrediting agencies:

  • Accreditation Council for Distance Education (ACTDE)
  • Accreditation Council for Online Academia (ACOHE)
  • Accreditation Council of Online Education (ACOE)
  • Accreditation Panel for Online Colleges and Universities (APTEC)
  • Accrediting Commission International (ACI)
  • American Accrediting Association of Theological Institutions
  • American Council of Private Colleges and Universities
  • American Association of Drugless Practitioners (ADP)
  • Association of Accredited Bible Schools
  • Association of Distance Learning Programs (ADLP)
  • Association of Private Colleges and Universities
  • Association for Online Academic Accreditation
  • Association for Online Excellence
  • Association for Online Academic Excellence
  • Board of Online Universities Accreditation (BOUA)
  • Council for Distance Education
  • Council of Online Higher Education
  • Central States Consortium of Colleges & Schools
  • Distance and Online Universities Accreditation Council (DOUAC)
  • Distance Learning International Accreditation Association (DEIAA)
  • Global Accreditation Bureau (GAB)
  • Global Accreditation Commission for Distance Education (GACDE)
  • Global Accreditation Council for Online Academia (GACOA) 
  • International Commission for Higher Education
  • International Accreditation Agency for Online Universities (IAAOU)
  • International Accreditation Association for Online Education (IAAFOE)
  • International Accreditation Commission (IAC)
  • International Accreditation Commission for Online Universities (IACOU) (Kingston)
  • International Accreditation Organization (IAO)
  • International Council on Education (ICE)
  • International Education Ministry Accreditation Association
  • International Online Education Accrediting Board (IOEAB)
  • National Academic Higher Education Agency (NACHE)
  • National Academy of Higher Education
  • National Accreditation and Certification Board (NACB)
  • National Board of Education (NBOE)
  • National College Accreditation Council (NCAC)
  • National Commission of Accredited Schools (NCAS)
  • National Distance Learning Accreditation Council (NDLAC)
  • New Millenium Accrediting Partnership for Educators Worldwide
  • Organization for Online Learning Accreditation (OKOLA)
  • Transworld Accrediting Commission Intl. (TAC)
  • United Christian College Accreditation Association (UCCAA) (Divine Heart)
  • United Nations Council
  • United States Distance Education & Training Council of Nevada (NOTE: A similarly titled agency, the Distance Education & Training Council (DETC), of Washington, D.C.—http://www.detc.org—is a VALID and RECOGNIZED online learning accreditation agency)
  • Universal Accreditation Council (UAC)
  • Universal Council for Online Education Accreditation (UCOEA)
  • World Association for Online Education(WAOE)**
  • World Association of Universities and Colleges (WAUC)
  • World Online Education Accrediting Commission (WOEAC)
  • World-Wide Accreditation Commission of Christian Educational Institutions (WWAC)
  • Worldwide Higher Education Accreditation Society (WHEAS)

Ashley Benson is a distance education professional with five years of experience in the for-profit sector. She has worked coast-to-coast within the United States as an academic advisor, an adjunct teaching assistant and, most recently, a campus Registrar. Through formal education and industry experience, Ashley practices staying informed on the current events and changes within higher education and the students involved.

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8 comments on “Unrecognized Accrediting Agencies
  1. alhassan Mohammad Fuseini says:

    Please i want to no if Grandfort university Garrington university are recognized and accredited for valid degree.

  2. Ivette Torres says:

    I want to know if Fort Jones university is the same university as Jones International University (Jones International Univeresity is recognized by the regional accreditation of North Central Commision) and I want to know which regional accreditation Fort Jones has in order to continue my doctoral degrees in that university.

  3. Nji Molan Suh says:

    which universities are accredited for me to do my nursing degree program there.

  4. Nji Molan Suh says:

    Is Fort Jones University an Accredited one? Is it of quality standard. Are it degrees recognized globally. Please for your assistance. This is because i want to apply for online master degree program in Nursing with the University.

  5. K Washington says:

    Can tell me the status of Fort Jones University

  6. Lou says:

    I noticed that you have a few universities like Harvard, Stanford, MIT and so forth that are listed by one of your fake accrediting organizations as having them accredited on their list of universities that use their services. Do universities use more than one accrediting organization? What do you have to say? I would appreciate it.

    Also, there is way too much misinformation about education and the whether a school is good or bad based on who accredits them. Foreign schools appear to do a better job of making it clear who is real or not real.

  7. Anthony says:

    Can you please indicate if the Nixon University is a credible institution and their degrees will be valid?

    I cannot find this institution as an accredited institution on the DTEC , CHEA or USDE databases of universities.

    Also they aren’t on any of the wiki lists or other list of known “Degree Mill Intuitions” , etc.

    They claim the reason why their institution is not accredited or accepted by CHEA or USDE is because they are an exclusive online university and have no campus registered in the USA , therefore they aren’t on these databases?

    They claim the following : “Nixon University is accredited by renowned accrediting bodies such as QOECB (Quality Online Education Certification Bureau), GABDL (Global Accreditation Board for Distance Learning), ABETE (International Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology Education), EABOE (European Accreditation Board for Online Education) and by AAC (Arab Accreditation Council). Accreditation by these prestigious accreditation bodies assures prospective students that Nixon University successfully meets the international standards and criteria for conferring degrees, diplomas & certificates in affiliation with NAFSA. ”

    They claim to be a NAFSA accredited university ?

    How can I verify if they are legit ? Any information would be appreciated as all my research on the internet leads to dead ends ?

    I hope you can point me in the right direction ?

  8. universidades a distancia says:

    It’s great that they are considering strengthening education online today with the Internet and information as powerful servers as a way of learning is the best thing that can happen to society. cost and time savings are strong arguments for giving overtones of social inclusion.

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