This page goes over some common information for those who may be new to the community.This info was initially compiled by DegreeForum user bjcheung77, and has been revised expanded on by our wikia community.
See also Accreditation
Here is some general information on accreditation, in order of recognition and preference.
- Regionally Accredited schools are the gold standard and most recognized. These schools are accredited by one of the six regional accrediting bodies. Regional accreditation is more prestigious and has more utility than national accreditation.
- Specialized/Programmatic Accreditation - Accrediting bodies that oversee special programs such as business, engineering, nursing, etc. Accredits a specific degree program at a particular school, but not the entire institution. Examples include: ABET (accredits computer science and engineering degree programs), AACSB and ACBSP (rival business program accreditation bodies), CAEP (consolidation of NCATE and TEAC and accredits teaching programs), etc. Sometimes, programmatic accreditation is needed for licensure i.e. CCNE or ACEN for nursing licensure. Sometimes, programmatic accreditation just simply means that a program has met more rigorous standards than what's required by institutional accreditation.
- Nationally Accredited schools may be of same quality, but perceived sub standard. These are schools typically accredited by the DEAC.
- GAAP (Generally Accepted Accrediting Principles) - Overseas, Internationally Recognized educational institutions of higher learning similar to US accreditation. Example, Australia has accreditation by state/territory and Canada has accreditation by province, neither are by the Dept of Education within the country (not federally/nationally or regionally accredited). The Dept of Education is there for overseeing student loans and grants.
For one reason or another, you may be taking courses at a Nationally Accredited institution for undergrad studies. If you would like to transfer to a Regionally Accredited institution, it will be harder as it's less recognized unless the school fully recognizes those courses, has an articulation agreement or if it's either ACE/NCCRS recommended.
Don't worry much, as there are few yet enough schools out there that will accept your courses or undergrad degree into their programs, either by individual courses or block transfer/articulation. This is true for individuals with internationally recognized degrees, as long as it's evaluated, you may or may not need to take makeup courses.
Competency Based Degree
With schools that have "Competency-Based" programs, you get credit for what you know, how well you know it. These are self-paced programs where you "prove" you've mastered the subject by complete an exam, submitting projects, or both. Once you have proven your mastery, you move on to the next course. There are several schools that have this type of degree offering, from undergrad to graduate studies. Many of those programs are much cheaper than their in class or online counterparts, assuming you move through the program quickly (you pay for time enrolled in these programs, not by classes completed -- taking longer means paying more).
Individuals may choose these programs over the Big 3 (credit by transfer) as you decide how much time it will take and how much the fees will be by going at your own pace and speed of completing assignments/exams. One reason I like these type of programs is, for example, is to transfer the majority of your courses into the program, if you finish the remainder of a degree in one term at one of these universities, it may only cost you 2-3 grand for that term. That is the beauty of competency degrees, the cost and amount of time finishing a degree is cheaper and faster.
Many of these schools accept some form of credit transfer, including ACE-approved credits.
Short example list of Competency Based Degree institutions/providers:
- Western Governors University : $2890+/6 months - Affordable Accredited Online University | WGU Tuition and Fees | Western Governors University
- Patten University : $1316+/4 months - Online College Tuition Cost | Price of Online Degrees | Patten University
- Hodges University : $2500-$3000/6 months - UPOWER - Self-Paced Learning | Hodges University
- University of Wisconsin, Flex option, $2250/3 months UW Flexible Option: Competency-Based Degree Programs, Competency-Based Education
- Northern Arizona University : $2500-3000/6 months - | Tuition | NAU Extended Campuses
- Capella University : $2500/12 Weeks - FlexPath : Self-Paced Courses Online - Capella University
An example where this shines is for individuals interested in a BSIT from WGU. As part of the program, you get course credit for industry certifications, already included in the cost of tuition. You get the recognition of a degree and also use your knowledge and expertise to gain industry certifications.
Time to choose that degree path/school and have your credentials evaluated for credit The majority of the time, I will recommend to have your credentials evaluated when you're ready to transfer to that school. These are for the general Associates and Bachelors BA/BS/BSBA, but there are special cases of course; for example, if you have a specific field of study where the transfers are unexpected or unknown (electronic/mechanical engineering, pilot license). For the odd reason you have credits from way back or from unusual cases of documented learning, it's best to send those credentials in earlier. Once you have your credentials evaluated, you'll be able to see where you stand and make the proper moves to obtaining the degree.
For many degree programs that allow transfer of courses, there will be fees involved in regards to residency. The main requirements are usually the capstone/cornerstone courses in addition to residency requirements (Check your school for capstone/cornerstone fees). A capstone course is usually the final course in a degree program that is a project, or thesis - documentation of what has been learned throughout the entire degree/major area of study. A cornerstone course is usually a course in the first semester of a program to get the student acquainted with what the program or school entails, similar to an overview of upcoming coursework or school structure.
Grade Point Average attained at the school you are attending, transferred courses usually won't affect this. Official GPA is affected by transferred grades from courses at Excelsior and Charter Oak, but not at TESU.