Nationally Accredited Online Colleges and Universities
There are dozens of accrediting bodies for schools of higher learning. These institutions, in turn, are accredited by one or both of two organizations that provide oversight for the accrediting process: the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Both organizations recognize the Distance Education and Training Council Accrediting Commission (DETC), the only national online education accreditation body with this status. However there are accredited online degrees granted by many colleges that have attained their accreditation from other organizations recognized by the DOE or CHEA.
The principal college and university accrediting bodies are six regional associations of schools that have divided the country into six districts. There are also programmatic accrediting organizations for specialties such as nursing, the law, medicine, psychology, etc. The larger accredited online universities such as Kaplan have sought approval from a string of associations - and in the case of Kaplan University, for instance, DETC has granted accredited distance learning status to several of the Kaplan campuses as well as the University itself.
In a sense, national accreditation flows from the DOE or CHEA through the many non-profit accrediting bodies that they recognize. There is a database here of all colleges and universities, including accredited distance learning schools, that are recognized by associations authorized by either CHEA or the DOE.