DEALC’s process and purpose of preparing a self-study program presents the accredited school or program an opportunity to examine its mission statement and make the necessary changes to achieve desired outcomes. The self-study provides focus and direction on the quality-based set of core values and concepts about what an online school or program should be. While accreditation is the primary goal for all quality institutions, the journey can be the greater achievement and DEALC accreditation contributes to a more positive review by nationally accrediting bodies, since specialized accreditation confirms quality programming in specific divisions.

What Accreditation Means to You

DEALC recognizes the importance of furthering your education and colleges are much more likely to recognize a diploma earned from an accredited secondary school; furthermore many of our graduates move onto traditional colleges and career schools to further their education. A DEALC recognized education will provide you with the right credentials and give you a more competitive advantage over other candidates and can help you land your dream job.


Dues and Fees
Online Institutional Accreditation

2014-2015 Dues for Candidate and Online Accredited Secondary Institutions

Annual Dues – Each candidate or accredited institution shall pay annual dues based on enrollment (Full-Time Equivalent or FTE) according to the applicable schedule below.


Public and Non-Public Institutions and Job Corps Centers

Federal Institutions

1 – 125



126 – 270



271 – 395



396 – 500



501 – 675



676 – 1,000



1,001 – 1,250



1,251 – 2,100



2,101 – 2,500



2,501 – 3,900



3,901 – 6,700



6,701 – 14,000



More Than  14,001+



* One FTE is equal to 900 student contact clock hours, 45 quarter credit hours, or 30 semester credit hours.


Fees shall be assessed according to the schedule below. All fees shall be non-refundable. Other fees apply to substantive changes (see latest edition of the Handbook).

Application for Candidate for Accreditation or Alternate Procedure for Acquiring Initial Accreditation


Non-Public Institution Candidate Team Visit Deposit


Warning Status


Probation Status


Show Cause Order


Focused Review Visit


Notice of Intent to Appeal


Reprocessing any Insufficient Application, Report, or Response


Initial Accreditation


Renewal of Accreditation


Substantive Change Team Visit Deposit


Private Institution Accreditation Team Visit Deposit


Third-party Audit Review (see Policies and Rules of DEALC)



DEALC requires deposits for certain substantive changes, accreditation team visits, and appeal board hearings. Unused funds on deposit for those activities will be applied toward any outstanding debt an institution owes DEALC.



Accreditation: The Basics

What is accreditation? 

Accreditation is a process of peer review that the educational community has adopted for its self-regulation since early in the 20th century. It is a voluntary process intended to strengthen and sustain the quality and integrity of higher education, making it worthy of public confidence. Institutions choose to apply for accredited status, and once accredited, they agree to abide by the standards of their accrediting organization and to regulate themselves by taking responsibility for their own improvement.

Types of Accreditors

In the United States, accreditors are non-governmental, private, non-profit organizations, and most accredit both private and public institutions. There are three types of accreditors:

  1. Regional accreditors operate within specific geographic areas. The United States is divided into six regions, each with its own regional accrediting association, and the work of these associations is accomplished by seven commissions. The regional accreditors together are responsible for over 3,000 colleges and universities.
  2. Specialized accreditors are not limited to specific geographic areas, but they review particular programs within institutions that are also accredited by an institutional accreditor, such as programs in architecture, engineering, optometry, and pharmacy. A single institution may have multiple programs accredited by specialized accreditors.
  3. National accreditors are not limited to specific geographic areas. They also accredit entire institutions, but they are more likely to review particular types of institutions, such as those that specialize exclusively in law, medicine, nursing, distance learning, and theology. 

As a regional, specialized and national accreditor, DEALC examines the entire institution, including its educational programs and curricula, student achievement, faculty, facilities and equipment, student support services, recruiting and admissions practices, the institution’s financial condition, administrative effectiveness, governing boards, and several other aspects of the institution.

Role of State and Federal Governments

Before a U.S. institution can become accredited, it usually must obtain a license from the state in which it is chartered, authorizing the institution to award a degree. Some states require accreditation as a pre-condition for licensing.

If a college or university wants its students to obtain loans and grants from the federal government through the Student Assistance Programs in Title IV of the Higher Education Act, as amended (HEA), the institution must have regional or national accreditation. There are some colleges in the United States that obtain only a license from their state and they are not accredited, but their students do not have access to federal funds.

The federal government, therefore, protects its financial interest by requiring accrediting organizations to ensure that their member institutions comply with certain federal regulations. To accomplish this oversight, it reviews in detail the operations of each accreditor at least every five years. The U.S. Secretary of Education then publishes a list of accreditors that are recognized as reliable authorities on the quality of colleges and universities (commonly called “gatekeepers”).

Organizations Related to Accreditation

In addition to oversight from the federal government, accreditors may seek voluntarily to be reviewed and recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), which is a membership organization composed of the presidents of accredited institutions.

The coordinating organization for regional accreditors is the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions (C-RAC). The coordinating organization for many specialized accreditors is the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA).

For a list of the major organizations and government agencies that have an impact on the work of accreditors in the U.S.

Are Distance Education Programs and Courses Accredited?

Distance education programs and courses are not separately accredited by the Commission on Higher Education. However, they may be included within the scope of an institution’s existing accreditation.

The Commission publishes a policy statement and guidelines for distance education programs to assist institutions when they are considering and developing distance education programs. 

When an institution plans to offer at least 50% of a program through distance education, it must receive advance approval from the Commission to have those programs included within the scope of the institution’s accreditation. 

To identify institutions that offer degrees via distance education, consult a commercial directory that may be available at your local bookseller or library.

Colleges and Their Students

How can a prospective student evaluate and compare colleges and universities?

DEALC does NOT rank colleges and universities. During the accreditation process each institution is examined for its compliance with the Commission's accreditation standards, federal regulations, and other factors. There is a great deal of both general and accreditation-specific information available to prospective students about the college or university they would consider attending. The following links should provide a useful starting point.

General Information


College Navigator

This site is maintained by the U.S. Department of Education. It enables users to search for and compare institutions by state or territory, by program or major, at the desired level of award (certificate, associate’s, bachelor’s, or graduate), by the number of students enrolled, by religious affiliation, or by distance from any given zip code.

College Results Online


This site is maintained by the Education Trust, based on data from the U.S. Department of Education. It enables users to examine and compare the graduation rates at four-year colleges and universities. Users can select a particular institution or a group of institutions, or they can select institutions based on their student and institutional characteristics. The search results include graphs for the selected institutions, comparison tables, and vital statistics about the institutions.


College Search

This site is maintained by the College Board to help prospective students search over 3,600 colleges to find and compare those that meet the student's needs or to get more information about a specific college. The search can include such factors as the type of school, its location, campus life, activities and sports, majors and academics, admission, cost and financial aid, and deadlines.

Please note: there are also many commercial publications and services that claim to rate colleges and universities. These ratings are often based on student or employee surveys or other factors. If you use one of these directories, pay close attention to the research methodology used by the publisher. Directories that rate colleges and universities are usually available in leading bookstores and libraries. 


Accreditation-specific Information


For institutions in the DEALC region, the DEALC of member and candidate institutions provides for each institution a data profile of institutional characteristics, including its branches or other locations and the next dates when it will be reviewed, together with a Statement of Accreditation Status that describes the institution's accreditation history since its last comprehensive (decennial) evaluation.

For institutions in other regions, consult the websites of their respective regional, specialized or national accreditors.

What should students know about expectations for learning at an institution?

DEALC's standards in Characteristics of Excellence; considered as one of the fundamental elements of student admissions (Standard 8) that the institution should make information on student learning outcomes available to prospective students. This practice should help "ensure that students have a reasonable opportunity for success in meeting their educational goals".

First, each institution is expected to define the student learning that is expected for each degree that is offered, and a coherent program of study should lead to the desired learning outcomes (Context, Standard 11: Educational Offerings). Second, students should be aware that the purpose for assessing student learning is to help them improve (Context, Standard 14: Assessment of Student Learning).

As noted in other DEALC publications, including Student Learning Assessment:  Options and Resources, students should realize from the beginning that they are expected to be partners with faculty and staff, mutually engaged in the learning process.

Will a college accept credits transferred from another college?

Each institution makes its own decisions about transfer credits, and it may take into account a variety of factors, such as how well the credits students earned at another institution fit the requirements for the program they wish to pursue, the comparability of learning goals for the courses at the other institution, the grades students received in the courses they took, whether the college they attended is accredited, and other factors that vary from one institution to another.

The only way to determine which credits (if any) a college or university will accept is to contact the institution directly. Students who know in advance that they may wish to transfer to another institution should contact the receiving institution as soon as possible about the transferability of credits.

For further information about transfer, consult DEALC's policy, "Transfer and Articulation" and the revised standards in Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education-Online Version 2014

What Happens to Student Records When a College Closes?

The closing institution arranges with the state department of higher education or other appropriate agency to file all academic records as well as financial aid information. If the college merges with another institution, arrangements are made with that institution to receive the records. Students should receive a notice from the college about any arrangements made for filing student records.

Sometimes students wish to know about where their records are filed, long after an institution has closed. In that case, students should begin their inquiries by contacting the higher education agency in the state where the institution was authorized.