The Difference Between a Certified Online University and an Accredited Online University

Due to the ease of access to the Internet, it has never been more convenient for a person to receive a university education. Online university has proven to be an attractive option for busy adults as they are able to use the internet to access lectures, course material, and submit their assignments.

If you are looking to pursue an online education, you might come across the terms “certified online college” and an “accredited online college”. Before selecting a program, it is important to know the differences between these terms as they play a crucial role in making your program worthwhile.

Both curriculums are formal education; however, certification is different from accreditation by recipient only. Though certification and accreditation are both credentialed by a private agency, students should opt for an accredited school when selecting an online university program as it meets a certain level of prestige and it will be publicly recognized.

Certified Online University

Unlike accreditation, which is a term meant for an entire organization, “certification” is used on the behalf of an individual. If you are student attending an online institution, you are able to participate in programs that allow you to become “certified” in a particular area of study.

In an attempt to help students advance in their careers, certified online universities allow their students to earn specialized certifications in various programs. Certified online schools tend to include studies for various occupations such as court reporter, certified electrician, certified school counselor, and other medical or IT professional programs. If you graduate from any of these programs, then you become “certified”.

Accredited Online University

For an online university to be labeled as “accredited” they have to demonstrate a pre-determined level of quality, similar to other schools at a high level of postsecondary education. To be recognized by a third-party, online schools have to adhere to the standards of other schools at the same level of education.

Not every school, however, elects to be accredited due to expenses and difficult requirements, therefore some certified programs are comparable in quality. That said, certified programs are not recognized by an accreditation agency, which makes the education less valuable in certain situations. In simpler terms, accreditation just makes sure that the degree a student receives meets a common set of quality.

Both terms describe similar end results, therefore it is crucial to know the differences between the two terms. A non-governmental criterion, established by an independent agency, refers to the term accreditation. Furthermore, “licensing” is another term that will pop up when discussing areas of regulatory consideration, and it is important to note that state “certifications” are far less controlled than licensing and accreditation.

To put it simply, certification or license is received by an individual while “accreditation” is for a program or institution. If value plays an important role in your decision making process, then an accredited online university might be a better choice. This will prove that the degree holder is able to apply their training and that their education has met certain standards.

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