Maranatha is a regionally accredited college (see description below), and Maranatha Online is an integral department of the college, providing credible and portable learning at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Its courses and programs are designed to develop lifelong learners and leaders. Maranatha is a member of the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) of the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), which in turn is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
Types of Accreditation
The main issue in accreditation is the transferability of credits from one institution to another. While nationally accredited institutions will usually accept credit from regionally or nationally accredited institutions, regionally accredited schools often do not accept credit from nationally accredited institutions.
|Regional||Focuses on quality improvement.||17 million students; 3,000 colleges and universities||Accredited public, private, and Christian colleges and universities accept degrees earned at regionally accredited colleges as a foundation for graduate studies and accept credits earned for transfer.|
|National||Generally focuses on accrediting single-purpose institutions||3 million students||According to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation , students who attend a nationally accredited institution sometimes have difficulty transferring and getting their credits accepted by regionally accredited schools. Decisions about transfer of credit are made by each institution so, reasons for denying credits may vary widely.|
|Programmatic||Accredits only specific programs within an institution (engineering, etc.)||N/A||Credits are generally accepted by other institutions with similar programmatic accreditations.|
Which Accreditation is Preferable?
When students are looking for a college, one important consideration is whether it is accredited. Colleges and universities are awarded accreditation after successfully undergoing a voluntary external review by a private accrediting agency to evaluate the quality of the institution and how effectively the institution is meeting its stated mission. While the evaluation criteria among accrediting agencies tend to be similar—measuring such areas as expected student achievement, curriculum, and faculty—not all forms of accreditation are equal. Most accredited colleges and universities are divided into two basic types: regional or national accreditation. What’s the difference?
National accrediting organizations operate throughout the country and usually accredit single-purpose institutions focused on a specific mission, such as business. About 35 percent of this type are degree-granting and 65 percent are non-degree-granting. Four faith-based accrediting organizations—such as the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) and the Association for Biblical Higher Education Commission on Accreditation (ABHE)—accredit about 400 faith-based institutions. According to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), students who attend a nationally accredited institution sometimes have difficulty transferring and getting their credits accepted by regionally accredited schools. Because decisions about transfer of credit are made at the local level by colleges and universities, reasons for denying credits may vary widely.
Accredited colleges and universities accept degrees earned at Maranatha as a foundation for graduate studies and accept credits earned for transfer.
In terms of sheer numbers and status, the most recognized type of accreditation in the United States is regional accreditation. Of the approximately 20 million students enrolled in accredited colleges and universities, 17 million are in nearly 3,000 regionally accredited institutions. The institutions are accredited by one of six regional accrediting agencies covering different geographical regions (Middle States, New England, North Central, Northwest, Southern, and Western). The agencies are in turn recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and CHEA, a private organization.
Since 1993, Maranatha has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, part of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (www.ncahigherlearningcommission.org. Ph: 312-263-0456). This regional accrediting organization focuses on quality improvement and encourages Maranatha to accomplish its mission. Accredited public, private, and Christian colleges and universities accept degrees earned at Maranatha as a foundation for graduate studies and accept credits earned for transfer. Maranatha chose regional over national accreditation for two reasons. First, national accreditation tends to be very prescriptive; there are specific requirements concerning curriculum, faculty standards, etc. North Central is more flexible and allows the schools to establish and maintain their own identity. Second, the faith-based accrediting agencies routinely interject “faith” exercises into their meetings and expectations, something the regional agencies do not do. Maranatha has no desire to participate in religious activities with the non-Baptist, nonfundamentalist schools in the faith-based accrediting agencies. (Note: Although this has not been the case, if at any point we would have to compromise our mission to maintain accreditation, we certainly would give up our regional accreditation. While accreditation is valuable for our students, maintaining our mission is paramount.)
Recently a number of fundamental Christian colleges have pursued accreditation. We believe this is a good thing and rejoice in the successes of these sister institutions and believe their decisions will benefit both their current students and graduates. Each college or university makes these important choices guided by their history and values. We respect their choices and value their friendship.
Recognized List of Accredited Institutions by CHEA www.chea.org/pdf/CHEA_USDE_AllAccred.pdf
Programs, departments, or schools within an institution can also be accredited. Most programmatic accrediting agencies review units within a college or university that is accredited by one of the regional accrediting commissions. In addition to North Central Association accreditation, for example, Maranatha is pursuing nursing accreditation with the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), an autonomous accrediting agency that ensures the quality and integrity of education programs preparing effective nurses. Some programmatic accrediting agencies accredit vocational institutions and educational programs within non-educational settings, such as hospitals.
Just because a college is not accredited does not mean it is necessarily poor in quality. Some institutions are new and have not met minimum requirements for review, or they may have chosen not to pursue accreditation for other reasons, which they should be willing to articulate. If your child is considering an unaccredited college, find out whether the college has a different form of review to evaluate and improve its quality. Also, check with potential graduate schools and employers to see whether they would accept degrees from the institution.
With the advent of distance learning, in which legitimate colleges and universities let students earn degrees by taking classes online, “diploma mills” are also on the rise. These bogus schools issue fake diplomas and transcripts, usually in exchange for money and minimal (or no) coursework. Fake accrediting organizations are also proliferating (there were 260 in 2003), lending an air of legitimacy to the dubious degree mills.
To ensure your child enrolls in an institution accredited by a U.S.-recognized accrediting organization, check the list at this website: www.chea.org/pdf/CHEA_USDE_AllAccred.pdf.
Accreditation is a multifaceted issue. If accreditation is an important factor in your college choice, you should carefully ask questions of independent sources regarding types and effectiveness of various accrediting organizations.
Read about transferring credits.