The ABCs - A, CBD, E, F, G - Accreditation, Competency Based Degree, Evaluation, Fees, GPA
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.
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 that these programs are preferred is the potential ability to transfer a substantial number of courses into the program. If you can then finish the remainder of the degree in one term at one of these universities, it only costs you a few grand to get that degree. In many instances, the cost for a quickly-completed competency-based degree is going to cost less than a degree at the Big 3. If you do not have prior experience, it is usually recommended that students do not choose a competency-based program.
Many of these schools accept some form of credit transfer, including ACE-approved credits. For a list of schools, their costs, and whether or not they accept ACE credits, check out the page on Competency-Based Programs.
Time to choose that degree path/school and have your credentials evaluated for credit In many instances, it was formerly recommended that you wait to have your credentials evaluated when you're ready to transfer to that school. This is for the general Associates and Bachelors BA/BS/BSBA. As of 2020, it is usually considered a good idea to apply to a given school as soon as you have some credits under your belt. This helps to ensure that you have your course catalog locked in. There are also special cases where, for example, you have a specific field of study where the transfers are unexpected or unknown (electronic/mechanical engineering, pilot license). Or if you have credits from years ago or from unusual cases of documented learning, it's best to send those credentials in as soon as possible. Once you have your credentials evaluated, you'll be able to see where you stand and will be able to make the proper moves to obtaining the degree.
For many degree programs that allow the transfer of courses, there will be fees involved in regards to residency (this is especially true of TESU. 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 hardly ever have an effect on the GPA. Official GPA is affected by transferred grades from courses at Excelsior and Charter Oak, but not at TESU. Most other schools do not calculate GPA from transferred courses.