The Distance Education Training Council (DETC) is a nationally recognized accrediting body for distance education courses. It is unique in that it offers accreditation based on the method of instruction instead of the degree level or subject matter. The DETC accredits distance learning degrees, non-degrees and vocational courses and programs.
The DETC is formally recognized by the recognized by the DOE and CHEA. Most public and private universities are accredited through regional bodies. These are actually only six organizations, all of which are recognized by the DOE and CHEA, that award regional accreditation. They include the Western, Southern and Middle State Associations of Colleges and Schools as well as the Northwest, North Central and New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Specialized accreditation is usually for programs within colleges and is offered by agencies that govern specific fields or industries. While these agencies do not accredit entire universities, they do accredit individual professional programs. Examples of specialized accreditation agencies include the American Medical Association (AMA), which accredits medical programs, and the American Bar Association (ABA), which accredits law school programs.
Many people mistakenly think that the DETC’s accreditation standards are not as high as regional bodies. In reality, the DETC has very relevant policies and comprehensive standards that are exclusively aimed at distance education programs. DETC evaluators access online courses in order to verify the quality of curriculum and instructional practices. The DETC evaluation process begins with the general curricula and program format and structure.
The initial evaluation reports become part of the complete review, which is compared to the educational institution’s Self-Evaluation Report, and generally takes a few months to complete. Like regional bodies, the DETC emphasizes content and program quality through the demonstration of student learning and achievements. Similar to regional bodies, the DETC requires annual reports that reflect course completion, program graduation and student satisfaction rates.
DETC Eligibility Requirements
Distance education schools seek accreditation to assure students and employers that their programs has met certain quality and academic standards. In order to be accepted by most colleges and employers, accrediting associations must be recognized by the Department of Education (DOE) or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Any legitimate distance education institution with two years of operating experience can submit an application to the DETC Accrediting Commission.
A legitimate, or bona fide, distance education institution will formally enroll students, maintain student records, employ qualified faculty. They will maintain proper licensure and provide continuous support and communication with students. These organizations will engage in peer review and help students make informed academic choices. While every program may be unique, all DETC approved schools will share the goal of helping students succeed.
To finish, students should note that credits obtained through Distance Education Training Council approved programs, like any educational institution, may not be transferable to traditional universities. This is because almost all higher learning schools follow CHEA’s standard principles of good practice, which states that the acceptance of transfer credits from one institution to another is entirely up to the receiving institution.