Regional vs. National Accreditation

Regional vs. National accreditation

Regional accreditation vs. national accreditation is an argument that can be confounding based on terminology alone.

National must be better, right? Because it covers the whole nation?

Actually, no.

Regionally accredited institutions are the safest choice in higher education, the gold standard used by professional and graduate schools as well as potential employers.

There are six regional institutional accreditors recognized by the Department of Education. One is the North Central Association, of which Maranatha has been a member for 20 years.

Credits from Maranatha and other regionally accredited colleges will transfer nearly anywhere. Maranatha’s graduates rarely encounter difficulties being admitted into programs for advanced degree work.

National accreditation, conversely, offers an unpredictable outcome. Some professional and graduate schools will accept work from schools recognized by national accrediting groups. Many will not. Some employers will accept those degrees. Many will not.

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.

William Licht has both first – and second-hand experience in dealing with this issue.

After graduating from a nationally accredited college, Licht was denied entrance into a state university’s graduate program because of his degree status. Since being named Chair of Maranatha’s Teacher Education Department, Licht said, he has received phone or email communication nearly every week from students who have found their professional progress stalled by not having a degree from a regionally accredited college.

Licht presented as an example one letter from a parent whose daughter was a sophomore at a nationally accredited Christian college. The daughter had just discovered that the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction would not recognize her degree, and was asking Maranatha for an equivalency endorsement on her behalf. Wisconsin will not grant a regular teaching certificate to graduates of nationally accredited colleges.

“They very quickly realize it will take them months or years of effort and thousands of dollars to achieve equality with our Maranatha teaching degree,” Licht said.

This issue requires a broad and cautious long-term view of the future and an understanding of the importance of regional accreditation. If you aren’t sure whether the college your child is considering is regionally or nationally accredited, find out.

The answer could prove to be very important to their future.