DETC - Distance Education & Training Council

DETC Accrediting Commission

Process of Accreditation

Benefits of Accreditation

Experts’ Views on Curricula Quality

Eligibility and Standards

Powers and Responsibilities


Actions and Call for Public Comment



The DETC Accrediting Commission was established in 1955. The Commission's mission is to promote, by means of standard-setting, evaluation, and consultation processes, the development and maintenance of high educational and ethical standards in education and training programs delivered through distance learning. The DETC Accrediting Commission identifies and accredits distance education and training institutions that have attained and maintained the standards deemed necessary to operate at a high level of quality.

The Accrediting Commission's recognition by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) are for postsecondary programs purposes only. Since the U.S. Secretary's authority is statutorily limited to postsecondary institutions in the United States, this federal recognition encompasses only DETC accreditation in this area. Presently, the Commission's scope of recognition extends only through the Professional Doctoral Degree level.

The Commission establishes educational, ethical and business standards; it examines and evaluates distance education institutions in terms of these standards; and accredits those who qualify. Its accrediting program employs procedures similar to those of other recognized educational accrediting agencies. The Commission’s procedures and standards have been continuously refined and improved over the past half century.

Distance study institutions located outside the United States are eligible to apply for accreditation. The opportunity to apply for accreditation is open to private and public distance education institutions, both at the degree (Associates through the First Professional degree level) and non-degree levels.

Today, more than 4 million Americans are enrolled in DETC-accredited institutions. It is estimated that since 1890, some 130 million Americans have taken distance education courses. Presently, there are 100 institutions accredited by the Accrediting Commission.

Process of Accreditation

Since accreditation is a voluntary process, each institution must make its own choice: to seek accreditation or re-accreditation or not. Schools desiring accredited status are expected to take the initiative in going through a series of steps that are outlined below. Institutions seeking accreditation or re-accreditation assume the burden of proof in presenting themselves as meeting the established standards. For more detailed information, please see the DETC Accreditation Handbook.

The eight steps in the accreditation process are:

1. Obtain the DETC Accreditation Handbook, Review Application, Complete Course, and Begin Writing SER

Institution receives the DETC Accreditation Handbook and reviews it carefully: The Accrediting Commission’s comprehensive publication on accreditation, the DETC Accreditation Handbook, is currently sold for $30 (U.S.). It is available from DETC’s web site for no charge (, select “Publications” and “Accreditation Handbook”). The Handbook is updated every January, so you should check DETC’s web site to make certain you have the most up-to-date versions of the documents. For institutions undergoing the five-year reaccreditation process, information will be sent to them in the preceding year advising them of their upcoming reaccreditation review.

Review Application: Once the institution has studied the Handbook, the CEO/President should review the “Application for Accreditation” found in Appendix G.1. to make certain he/she understands all that is required in the accreditation process.

Enroll and Complete Course: A key person must enroll in and complete the DETC Course on Preparing for Accreditation to qualify as a Compliance Officer. The course is available online or in print for no charge from DETC’s web site at, “Member Services” (sign in using the word “guest” for your user name and password) and “Publications.” DETC will be notified when the Compliance Officer has completed the course. This course should be completed before writing the SER. DETC will not accept an application without proof that someone has completed this course.

Begin Writing the SER: The Compliance Officer begins writing the institution’s Self-Evaluation Report (SER). The SER is prepared in accordance with the provisions of the “Guide to Self-Evaluation” for initial applicants or the “Guide to Self-Evaluation for 5-Year Review” for institutions undergoing reaccreditation found in Appendix A. The SER provides data on all areas of an institution’s operation, history, course offerings, student services, finances, etc. The self-evaluation includes as wide a gathering and analysis of pertinent data on all aspects of the institution and its work. It should, above all else, be a truly self-analytical document that identifies an institution’s particular strengths and challenges. It should reveal the philosophy, organization, specific practices and procedures (documented wherever possible),
the success of different operations, and the outcomes of the educational process including the degree to which the institution is accomplishing its stated objectives. Data should not be amassed routinely, but in a constant search for new meanings, new methods and procedures, new hypotheses, and new ideas for improvement. The Self-Evaluation Report really “tells a story” about the institution. What the Accrediting Commission is looking for is a candid self-analysis of the institution.

Even though the Compliance Officers is the key person who oversees the writing of the SER, it is recommended that as many staff as possible help to write the Report. Preparing the SER is a great learning experience for everyone. When writing the SER, the name of a contact person should be assigned to each Standard. This helps the evaluators to determine who to interview during the on-site visit.

Preparing the Self-Evaluation Report may take only a few months for a small institution, to as many as 9 months for a large institution. Institutions are instructed to allow sufficient time for writing, editing, and revising the Self-Evaluation Report. This is a key document in the institution’s quest for accreditation!

2. Submit Application and Other Required Information

Institution submits application with application fee: To initiate the accreditation process, the Application for Accreditation (found in Appendix G.1), and the $1,000 accreditation fee (or $500 reaccreditation fee), must be submitted to the Commission. Initial applicants must submit a draft of their SER no later than 60 days after submitting their Application. The Accrediting Commission accepts applications from institutions that have been operating as a bona fide distance education institution or organization (see definition on page 16) and enrolling students for at least two years. The CEO must sign the “Certification of Application” in the Application. In doing so, the CEO agrees that at least one key person has completed the course, DETC Course on Preparing for Accreditation, before he/she began writing the SER. Upon receipt of the Application, the Commission staff will consult with the institution as needed. Receiving the Application begins the formal process. The steps obligated in the accreditation process must be taken within two accrediting periods after application is made (approximately one year).

Institution submits students names, catalogs, and copy of state licensure: Along with the fee, no more than 100 mailing labels with student names must be submitted, as well as the institution’s catalog and copies of state licensures. If an institution has less than 100 students, it must send mailing labels for all of its students. The Commission uses these labels to survey students.

DETC posts names of applicants for accreditation on its web site and publications: The name of the institution applying for initial accreditation or reaccreditation is published in DETC publications (DETC News, DETC Bulletin, Washington Memo, etc.) and web site (, and the public is requested to send any comments they may have to the Accrediting Commission by a given date.

3. Undergo Readiness Assessment (Initial Applicants Only)

For initial applicants, the institution submits 3 copies of the draft of its SER (no later than 60 days from the date of application). Once DETC receives this document, the Director of Accreditation (Nan Bayster) will coordinate a review by an evaluator for a Readiness Assessment (see Appendices B.9. and C.12.). The evaluator reviews the SER and writes a report stating if the institution is deemed “ready,” to undergo a full on-site visit. Then the institution proceeds to the next step. If it is not deemed “ready,” then it must correct the areas of concern before proceeding with the accreditation process.

4. Submit Course Materials, DETC Schedules On-Site Visit and Surveys Students

Institution submits courses materials for review: Course materials also are required to be submitted as part of the accreditation process. A new applicant for accreditation must submit one complete set of each course. An institution undergoing a reaccreditation examination must submit one complete set of all course materials. Degree-granting institutions should following the instructions in C.5. Policy on Course Approval for submitting course materials. This includes advertising, an institution catalog, enrollment agreement(s), examinations and examination solutions, and all tools, kits, and equipment provided with the course(s). Course materials submitted as part of an institution’s application for accreditation are not returned to the institution; they are consumed in the review process.

Subject matter experts, who are also called “subject specialists,” are selected to review and report on the institution’s course materials (see Appendix J.4.). Typically, these reviews take place in the subject specialists’ home or office. However, if an institution offers a combination distance study-resident program, offers a degree program, or has an extremely large number of courses (e.g., a military institute), then one or more subject specialists are appointed to visit the institution for an on-site review of course materials. Each subject specialist submits to the Accrediting Commission written report on the courses reviewed (see Appendices D.2., D.3., and D.5.).

Date of Visit is Set: A mutually convenient on-site examination date is coordinated with the institution. On-site visits are from one to two days, depending upon the size of the institution (see Appendix J. 7 for Guidelines). In cases where resident training is provided as a required or as an optional part of a distance education course, the training facilities are examined to make sure that outcomes of resident training contribute to the total course objectives.

Students Surveyed: The names and addresses of the first 100 students consecutively enrolled with the institution beginning on the first day of the 18th month preceding the date of the application must be submitted on self-adhesive mailing labels. If you have fewer than 100 students, submit all the names and addresses. Insofar as possible, the number of students must reflect the same proportion of the enrollments for each of the institution’s major course offerings. For example, if you have 100 students enrolled in two separate courses, then approximately one-half of the students on the mailing labels should be from each respective course. These students are asked to complete a survey form (see Appendix J. 1) which contains questions about enrollment practices, lessons, student services, and student satisfaction with the course(s) and the institution. A self-addressed stamped envelope is mailed with the survey to encourage the student to return the survey to the Commission.

In addition, the Commission staff also surveys Better Business Bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, various consumer protection agencies, accrediting associations, and federal and state regulatory agencies, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Education, for information on the educational services, business ethics, and general reputation of all applicant institutions.

5. Submit SER, Receive Subject Specialist Reports, and Respond to Comments

Institution Submits SER: The Compliance Officer completes and submits the institution’s SER. This should be done at least 10 weeks before the on-site visit. If an applicant institution is deemed ready for a full on-site review, it must revise the draft of its SER by incorporating the improvements made since the Readiness Assessment.

As instructed by the DETC staff, the institution must submit the required number of Self-Evaluation Reports by a specified date. In addition, the institution must provide the appropriate instructions and passwords for full access to the institution’s web site and/or online courses. This will allow members of the examining committee to review the appropriate items/content before the on-site visit. Once the Accrediting Commission receives the SER, the Commission staff reads it to make certain it is complete and all appropriate materials are included. If material is missing, staff will contact the institution and request that the missing information is sent to the Commission right away. Usually, an institution will submit 10 copies of the SER.

Examining Committee is Selected: The Examining Committee is not limited in size, but usually includes a Chair, an Educational Standards Examiner, a Business Standards Examiner, Subject Specialists for each subject area (who may or may not visit the institution), and an Observer for the Accrediting Commission (see “The Organization of the Examining Committee” on page 26). An Examining Committee is appointed to visit the institution for the purpose of verifying the information in the Self-Evaluation Report, and to gather additional facts for the Accrediting Commission (see Appendix J. 2). Once the examiners are selected, their names are submitted to the institution. The institution may object, with an adequate reason, to a specific examiner and request that another examiner is chosen.

Examiners, who are also called evaluators, are selected from among educators, executives, and practitioners in business, technical, and service fields (see Appendix J. 3). To become a qualified examiner, one must complete the distance education course entitled “DETC Evaluator Training Program” and receive a certificate of completion. One must also serve as an “Examiner in Training” on at least one on-site visit. The Commission develops and maintains a record of the qualifications of people who have been trained as examiners. The Commission strongly stresses to each examiner the need for confidentiality before, during, and after the on-site visit (see Appendix J. 5). Evaluators known to have competing interests with an applicant institution are not appointed to serve on the applicant’s examining committee.

State Observers are Invited: Representatives from state licensing bodies and from federal agencies are notified of forthcoming visits and are invited to participate as observers in the process. They are encouraged (but not required) to submit written reports to the Chair at the conclusion of the visit.

DETC Sends Subject Specialist Reports and Student Surveys to the Institution: The DETC staff will send the Subject Specialist Reports and Student Surveys received to the institution 3-4 weeks prior to the Examining Committee’s visit so that institutional representatives can prepare for questions from the visiting committee. If there are any “B” or “C” ratings, the institution must respond in writing as to what has been done to correct the problem..

Institution addresses any “B” or “C” comments from subject specialists, as well as any complaints from DETC: The institution will received a copy of each of the Subject Specialist Reports before the visit. The institution must write a response to any “B” or “C” ratings it receives. The institution’s response should be sent to DETC two weeks after receiving the Subject Specialists Reports. The written responses should also be given to the Educational Standards Evaluator when he/she arrives at the institution. He/she will review the responses to determine if the courses deficiencies have been corrected, and if the course is now approved. If appropriate, the Educational Standards Evaluator may work with the on-site Subject Specialist to determine if the course meets standards.

Examiners Receive and Review SER, Subject Specialist Reports and Student Surveys: A copy of the SER, along with any Subject Specialist Reports and Student Surveys received, are sent to each member of the visiting Examining Committee prior to the on-site visit to the institution. When special examinations are ordered, SERs are also required before the on-site visits (see Appendix B. 7). While on-site visits are required for all institutions seeking accreditation or reaccreditation, they may or may not be required for institutions submitting interim progress reports.

Whenever possible, the SER is sent to each examiner one month prior to the on-site visit. Each examiner reads the SER carefully and uses the “Examiner’s Rating Form for All Institutions” (see Appendix D. 1) to consider the institution’s responses to each question. The examiners make notes of any questions not answered in the SER or areas in which they may have concerns. The examiners use their notes to form their list of questions to be asked or items to be checked at the on-site visit. The examiners are not limited to the questions on the rating form, and are encouraged to ask their own questions as they confirm an institution’s compliance with the standards.

Complaint Summary is Prepared: The Accrediting Commission has a formal procedure for handling complaints lodged against an accredited institution (see Appendix H. 3). A summary of any complaints received on an institution that is undergoing reaccreditation is compiled and the summary is presented at the executive breakfast meeting on the day of the on-site visit.

6. Institution Undergoes On-Site Visit and Examiners Write Reports

Institution undergoes the on-site visit: During the visit, the questions asked by the examiners and the methods of inquiry help safeguard impartial judgment. Each examiner develops a comprehensive picture of the institution’s operations before the visit by doing a thorough review and study of the SER. Information provided in the report is verified at the time of the visit. The Examiner’s Rating Form directs Examining Committee members in their inquiries. Also, the presence of an Accrediting Commission observer helps ensure objectivity, impartiality, uniformity, and adherence to established procedures.

At the time of the on-site visit, it is vital that all key staff members are present or available, including faculty, principal managers, outside accountants and instructors. Members of the Examining Committee will want to interview many of the key staff members during the on-site visit. School representatives, the Educational Standards Evaluator (and possibly the Chair) will want to discuss the Subject Specialist Reports and student survey results (if previously forwarded) during the on-site visit.

Evaluators test and verify information in the SER: Below are details for the on-site visit. Basically, the Committee members will work in their area of expertise during the examination. They will interview staff and examine files, review records, verify data, and assemble relevant information to aid in preparing their individual reports.

Chair informs the institution when to expect the Chair’s Report: At the end of the visit, the Chair will meet with the CEO/President and tell him/her when he/she may expect to receive the Chair’s Report (typically it is one month after the visit).

Evaluators write reports and send them to the Chair: Each examiner completes the appropriate sections of the “Examiner’s Rating Form for All Institutions” and transfers his or her ratings to the “Summary of the Examiner’s Rating Form” (see Appendix D. 1), along with his or her narrative commentary stating their findings and recommendations and expanding on or explaining any “No” ratings (see Appendix E. 2). The “Summary Rating Form” and comments are sent to the Committee Chair. Once again, the examiners are not limited by the questions on the rating form. They are encouraged to explore any related characteristics and activities that help to determine if the institution meets each of the 12 Standards.

Observer’s and CEO’s comments are solicited: Any observers/representatives from state licensing bodies and/or federal agencies are strongly encouraged to send their comments to the Commission and the Chair. Their comments should address any issues concerning the institution’s compliance with state or federal regulations or the accrediting process itself. The CEO’s comments are solicited immediately following the on-site visit and prior to the receipt of the Chair’s Report.

Commission surveys on-site evaluators: After the on-site visit, the Commission surveys the examiners for any comments they may have on the institution’s SER, the on-site visit, and the accreditation process (see Appendix J. 6). If a state observer went on the on-site visit, the Commission normally sends the observer a copy of the Chair’s Report and the institution’s response to the Chair’s Report.

7. Chair Writes & Submits Report and Institution Responds

Chair writes report and sends it to DETC: Once the Chair receives all of the examiner reports, the Chair then prepares a Chair’s Report. The purpose of the Report is to present to the Accrediting Commission a thorough, succinct, and accurate statement of the findings of the Examining Committee. It presents a composite view of the findings of Committee members and subject specialists on the policies, conditions, and practices of the institution as measured against the published standards for accredited institutions. The Chair’s Report also summarizes the findings and recommendations of the Subject Specialist reports and the institutions comments about them. The Guide provided to the Committee Chair for preparation of the Chair’s Report may be found in Appendix E.1.

In the Report, the strengths and the deficiencies of the institution are noted. The Report lists Committee findings and presents Committee recommendations on how an institution might take action to bring existing policies, practices, materials, or services into accord with specific standards. The Chair’s Report does not, however, make any recommendation to the Accrediting Commission as to the overall approval or disapproval of the institution’s application for accreditation. The Chair sends his/her report to the Executive Director of the Commission. The Executive Director does not edit or make changes to the Chair’s Report.

DETC sends the Chair’s Report to the institution for comment: A copy of the Chair’s Report is forwarded, approximately 4 weeks after the on-site visit, to the CEO of the applicant institution by the Executive Director for comment and response before the Accrediting Commission takes action. This procedure provides the institution with the opportunity to respond to Committee findings as well as to report on any corrective actions taken subsequent to the visit.

Institution responds to Chair’s report: The institution has 14 days from the receipt of the Report to comment on the Report and to submit additional written materials which it desires to place before the Accrediting Commission.

8. Commission Reviews, Takes Action and Announces Decision

Commission reviews surveys, Chair’s report and the institution’s response to the Chair’s report: The Accrediting Commission usually meets twice a year, in January and in June, to take action on schools’ applications for accreditation. At each meeting, the Commission reviews information and documentation on the various applications for initial accreditation or reaccreditation. The Commission looks at the Chair’s Report; the school’s response to the Chair’s Report; student surveys; any complaints from the public; information gathered from Better Business Bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, consumer agencies, accrediting associations, and federal and state regulatory agencies; any responses to the public notices; school’s advertisements and catalog; any communications between the school and the Accrediting Commission; and other relevant documentation from various sources.

Commission makes decision and informs institution: The Commission can take one of four courses of action:

  1. accredit a new applicant institution, or continue an institution’s accredited status;
  2. accredit, or continue accreditation, with conditions that an institution must agree to meet within a period not to exceed one year. (Note: the Commission will initiate adverse action against an institution if it fails to meet all of the stipulations within the specified time unless the Commission decides the time period should be extended for a good cause.);
  3. defer a decision for a period not to exceed one year pending receipt of a Special Report, or submission of additional information and, possibly, a follow-up on-site visit; or
  4. deny accreditation to an applicant, or withdraw accreditation from an accredited institution.

If the Commission determines there is a “good cause,” it may grant an extension of time on a deferral and/or accreditation with stipulations.

After a final decision is made, the Commission will notify the institution within 10 days of its decision. If the Commission votes to deny or withdraw accreditation, the institution is sent a statement of the reasons for denial and the institution may appeal or request reconsideration of the decision of the Commission (see Appendices H. 1 and G. 5). The Commission will hear the appeal at the earliest practical time (see “Right to Appeal or Reconsideration” below). If an institution is denied accreditation or if accreditation is withdrawn, the institution must wait one year from the date of the Commission’s decision before making application for accreditation again.

All judgments of the Accrediting Commission are final. They are not subject to review or veto by DETC members.

Commission announces decision: After a final decision is made, the Accrediting Commission notifies other appropriate recognized accrediting agencies and state and federal agencies and the public about accreditation status of institutions and any adverse actions taken. Announcements of accreditation, reaccreditation, denial, and/or withdrawal of accreditation are made in DETC publications (DETC News, DETC Bulletin, Washington Memo, etc.) After the final decision is announced, the Commission purges its files and keeps only the reports and information specified in its file retention policy (see Appendix H.4.).

back to top

Benefits of Accreditation

For more than a century, DETC institutions have been leaders in the field of distance education. Accreditation:

• provides a reliable indicator of institution quality for counselors, employers, educators, governmental officials, and the public.

• is an expression of confidence in the educational program, the policies, and the procedures of the institution by its peers—a lasting source of pride to the institution.

• is an external source of stimulation to improve services, programs, and staff through periodic self-studies and evaluations by an outside agency.

• is an assurance of high standards and educational quality through the institution’s adherence to established criteria, policies, and standards.

• brings the institution recognition through the extension of special status by several states under their legislation and regulations, as well as recognition given by federal, state, and local agencies in referring students to accredited institutions.

• allows an institution and its courses to be listed in the DETC Directory of Accredited Institutions available on DETC’s web site.

• enables the institution to qualify to participate in the voluntary education tuition assistance program administered by the Defense Activity on Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) for most of the U.S. military services.

• by federal law, provides eligibility for certain benefits. For example, only accredited distance education institutions are eligible to participate in the Montgomery G.I. Bill and, as mentioned above, the DANTES tuition assistance program. DETC degree-awarding “telecommunications” institutions are eligible to apply the U.S. Department of Education to participate in the Title IV federal student aid programs.

• permits an institution to be listed in the directory, Accredited Institutions of Postsecondary Education, which is published annually by the American Council on Education.

• permits an institution to be listed on the institution databases of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education’s web sites.

• authorizes an institution to obtain the coveted “.edu” e-mail and web site addresses.

• allows the use of the DETC seal and reference to accreditation by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council.

• allows students to qualify for tuition reimbursement under certain state, industry, corporate, or union-sponsored tuition assistance plans requiring enrollment with an accredited institution, such as that administered by the state of Ohio’s Workforce Commission.

• brings eligibility for participation in the academic credit evaluation procedure conducted by the American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service (CREDIT).

• expedites acceptance of advertising by newspapers, electronic newsletters, magazines, radio and television stations, and other advertising media.

• helps facilitate, but does not guarantee acceptance of credits and degrees by other academic institutions.

• provides a unique professional development opportunity for the institution’s staff members to serve on accrediting examining committees visiting other institutions.

back to top

Experts' Views on DETC Institution Curricula Quality

In May 2008 DETC conducted an online survey with DETC subject-specialist evaluators*:

  • 83% find DETC material comparable to similar degree programs at regionally accredited universities
  • 100% note outstanding strengths in DETC institutions’ academic programs they would highlight for other institutions to emulate

Evaluators' comments on the quality of the DETC accreditation process:

  • I find my team members to be wise scholars who take the task of accrediation very seriously. Their expertise matches, and in many cases, exceeds the team members of the regionals.
  • DETC accrediting process has depth and rigor attached. I have always been serious about my responsibilities when asked to review or to be on a team. I always consider the rigor and try to compare the courses to what is offered at my own institution. In my opinion, DETC offers depth and thoroughness to any regional accrediting agency.
  • In some notable cases, the academic quality of the DETC programs that I have evaluated appears equal or superior to that of traditional programs that I have monitored or reviewed.
  • I believe the quality of the academic programs at institutions accreditated by the DETC are excellent. I would feel comfortable approving transfer credits for equivalent courses.
  • I would not hesitate to accept transfer credits from programs that I have evaluated for DETC which the agency has accredited.
  • DETC accredited programs are comparable to those programs I have reviewed and recommended for approval for Regionally Accredited institutions. Course design, rigor; quality and faculty qualifications are in harmony with Regional Accrediting standards.
  • I have worked with the DETC review process for about two years. I respect the process and the systems in place to assure a quality standard by which to review schools and their programs. My colleagues are respectable in their adherence to standards, such that I have no reservation recommending DETC accreditation to anyone who wants to assure academic rigor and performance of their school's programs. DETC is a brand and stamp of approval to be proud of.

*DETC evaluators are specialists in their field; most evaluators work or have worked as professors in their field at regionally accredited institutions.

back to top

Eligibility & Standards

Before the Commission will accept an institution’s “Application for Accreditation,” the institution must demonstrate that it meets the following eligibility criteria:

  • The institution must be a “bona fide” distance education institution and/or training provider, which is defined by the Accrediting Commission as “an educational institution or organization whose primary purpose is providing education or training which (1) formally enrolls students and maintains student records (2) retains a qualified faculty to service students (3) transmits to students organized instructional materials (4) provides continuous two-way communication on student work, e.g., evaluating students’ examinations, projects, and/or answering queries, with prompt feedback given to students; and (5) offers courses of instruction which must be studied predominantly at a distance (51% or more) from the institution or organization. That is, distance education should be the primary method of study for the majority of students and distance education courses should comprise the majority of course offerings.
  • At the time of application, the institution must have been enrolling students for two consecutive years under the present ownership and with the current programs. This requirement takes effect immediately.
  • The institution must be properly licensed, authorized, exempted or approved by the applicable state educational institutional authority (or its equivalent for non-U.S. institutions). The institution must also be in compliance with all applicable local, state, and federal requirements. Exemptions from state law, etc. must be documented.
  • The institution’s “Application for Accreditation” must be complete.

The Commission must also be assured that the courses and programs of the institution are within the capability of the Commission to examine and evaluate. The Accrediting Commission reserves the right to limit the scope of its review to the kinds of institutions and types of programs for which it feels adequate standards have been developed and for which it has the competence to review.

In addition, the Commission may temporarily decline to accept an application from an institution, otherwise qualified, if travel conditions in that country are perceived by the Commission to be unsafe.

The Commission also requires that all courses, programs, divisions, and/or affiliates of the ownership undergo the accreditation process. The failure of one program and/or division to apply for or achieve accreditation within a time frame set by the Commission renders all divisions ineligible for accreditation. In addition, if one course, program, division and/or affiliate of the ownership is ineligible to apply for accreditation, all “divisions” of that ownership are deemed to be ineligible.

The Standards for Accreditation

In order to implement the process of accreditation, the Accrediting Commission published accreditation standards. These 12 standards are used by the Commission to measure the educational quality, financial responsibility, administrative competency, and general worthiness of an institution. These standards are the key tenets of the DETC accreditation process. They are the stated criteria that characterize quality and excellence in distance learning.
Briefly, the standards require an institution to:

  1. have a clearly defined and stated mission, goals, and objectives;
  2. state its educational objectives clearly, and offer sufficiently comprehensive, accurate, up-to-date, educationally sound instructional materials, and methods to meet its educational objectives;
  3. provide adequate student services;
  4. provide adequate examination services and attention to individual student differences;
  5. have students who express satisfaction with the instruction and services received, and have an outcomes assessment plan;
  6. have a qualified faculty;
  7. enroll only students who can be expected to benefit from the instruction;
  8. be honest in its advertising and promotional practices;
  9. show financial resources that are adequate to carry out all obligations to students;
  10. use fair and equitable tuition and refund policies that meet the minimum DETC tuition cancellation policies;
  11. have adequate facilities, equipment, and record protection; and
  12. conduct continuous research and self-improvement studies.

To become accredited, each institution must have made an intensive study of its own operations, opened its doors to a thorough inspection by an outside examining committee, supplied all information required by the Accrediting Commission, and submitted its instructional materials for a thorough review by competent subject matter specialists. The process is repeated every five years.

For a copy of the complete Accreditation Standards, see the DETC Accreditation Handbook.

back to top

Powers and Responsibilities

The powers and responsibilities of the Commission are to:

  • establish and promulgate criteria for the evaluation and accreditation of distance education and independent learning organizations;
  • establish its operating budget and provide for a schedule of reasonable fees which will assure the financial stability of the Commission;
  • receive applications from institutions desiring accreditation;
  • appoint qualified evaluators and provide for a comprehensive evaluation procedure;
  • review the Chair’s reports and all other pertinent material and accredit or withhold accreditation from applicant institutions.
  • issue a directory of accredited organizations (DETC Directory of Accredited Institutions) and maintain a web site in which institutions will be identified in a manner which indicates their program offerings;
  • make available to the public current information covering the criteria for accreditation and the operation of the Commission;
  • re-evaluate at reasonable intervals the accredited organizations’ programs, organization, and courses of study; and
  • exercise such other powers as are necessary to carry out the function of a reputable, nationally recognized accrediting association.

back to top


The Accrediting Commission is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education to accredit distance education institutions. The Commission is listed (and has been since 1959) by the U.S. Department of Education as a "nationally recognized accrediting agency." Like regional accrediting agencies, the Accrediting Commission is reviewed periodically by the USDE to make certain that it meets the criteria for federal recognition as published in Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The Commission’s next review by USDE will be in 2011.

The Accrediting Commission is also a charter member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the leading non-governmental recognition for accrediting associations. The Commission’s recognition by CHEA was renewed in 2001 for ten years.

Recognition by the U.S. Department of Education does not enable DETC-accredited institutions to participate in Higher Education Act (HEA) programs, i.e., Title IV federal student loans, Pell Grants, Lifelong Learning Tax Credits, and Hope Scholarships. USDE recognition does, however, allow DETC-accredited institutions to participate in the Montgomery G.I. Bill and the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) tuition assistance program, as well as many corporate and state approved programs. DETC’s degree granting institutions are also members of CHEA and they are listed in the American Council on Education’s directory, "Accredited Institutions of Postsecondary Education."

The Accrediting Commission's recognition by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) are for postsecondary program purposes only. Since the U.S. Secretary's authority is statutorily limited to postsecondary institutions in the United States, this federal recognition encompasses only DETC accreditation in this area. Presently, the Commission's scope of recognition extends only through the first professional degree level with CHEA and through professional doctoral degrees with U.S. Department of Education.

For the Commission's scope of recognition, please see Quick Facts.

back to top

Actions & Call for Public Comment

The DETC Accrediting Commission, the nationally recognized accreditation association for distance learning institutions, met June 6-7, 2008 and took the following actions:

Commissioners Re-Elected

The Commission announced that two institutional Members of the Accrediting commission were re-elected at DETC’s Annual Business Meeting, April 14, 2008. The following were re-elected to a second and final 3-year term ending in 2011:

Dr. Adelaide K. Cherry, Academic Advisor, Air University Extension Course Program
Dr. David W. Curd, President, College of the Humanities and Sciences, Harrison Middleton University

Five Institutions Gain Accreditation

The following institutions were accredited as of June 7, 2008:

Allied American University
(a division of Allied Business Schools, Inc.) 22952 Alcalde Drive, Laguna Hills, CA 92653 (Phone: 888-384-0849; Fax: 949-707-2978; E-Mail:; Web Site:
Founded 2007 (2008/2011). Associates and Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Computer Information Systems, Criminal Justice, and General Studies.
Roy Winter, President and Chief Executive Officer (E-mail:

American Center for Conflict Resolution Institute
12900 Lake Avenue, Suite 003A
Lakewood, OH 44107
(Phone: 800-517-0857; Fax: 216-803-9899 E-mail:; Web Site:
Founded 1998 (2008/2013). Offers certificate courses in Professional Mediation and Paralegal-Legal Assistant.
     Tanya L. Dominick-Haggins, JD, LLM, President (

Perelandra College
8697-C La Mesa Boulevard, PMB 21
La Mesa, CA 91941 (Phone: 619-677-3308; Fax: 619-677-3304; Inquiry E-mail:; Web Site: Founded 2002 (2008/2013). Offers Masters of Arts in Counseling and Master of Arts in Creative Writing.
Ken Kuhlken, MFA, President, Chair of Creative Writing (E-mail:       

University of Atlanta
801 Executive Park Drive, Suite 204
Mobile, AL 36606 (Phone: 251-471-9977 or 800-533-3378; Fax: 678-669-2439; E-mail:; Web Site: Founded 1991 (2008/2013). Offers Master of Science and Bachelor of Science in Business, Social Science, Computer Science, Education and Healthcare Administration. Master of Business Administration and Executive Master of Business Administration. Concentrations in: Administration, Finance, International Business, Marketing, Human Resource Management, Management Information Systems, Computer Science, Educational Leadership and Criminal Justice.
Nick Mithani, President (E-mail:           

Yorktown University, Inc.
4340 East Kentucky Avenue, Suite 457
Denver, CO 80246 (Phone: 866-675-0327; Fax:  720-528-7761; E-mail:; Web Site: Founded 2000 (2008/2013). Offers Master of Arts in Government Completion Requirements.
Richard Bishirjian, Ph.D., President (E-mail:  

Six Institutions Re-Accredited

The following institutions were re-accredited for another five years (their next scheduled review will be in 2013):

  • American Graduate University, Covina, CA

  • American Health Information Management Association, Chicago, IL 

  • Australasian College for Health Sciences, Portland, OR 

  • Diamond Council of America, Nashville, TN 

  • International Import-Export Institute/Dunlap-Stone University, Phoenix, AZ 

  • The Taft University System, Santa Ana, CA 


Changes of Name

The following institutions changed their name or organizational structure:

  • Air Force Institute for Advanced Distributed Learning in Maxwell AFB-Gunter Annex, AL, changed its name to Air University Extension Course Program

  • The International Import-Export Institute in Phoenix, AZ, changed its name to Dunlap-Stone University. IIEI will remain a division of the Dunlap-Stone University

  • Sessions Online School of Design in New York, NY, changed its name to Sessions Online Schools of Art and Design with three divisions: Sessions Online School of Design, Sessions Online School of Game Art, and Sessions Online School of Fine Arts


Changes of Location

The following institutions changed their locations approved:

  • Brighton College moved to: 1737 Georgetown Road, Suite G, Hudson, OH 44236 (Phone: 330-342-5579 or 1-800-231-3803; Fax: 330-342-8502)

  • City Vision College moved to: 712 E. 31st Street - Box 280046, Kansas City, MO 64128-0046 (Phone: 816-960-2008; Fax: 816-960-2008)

  • The Paralegal Institute moved to: 18275 N 59th Avenue, Suite 186, Glendale, AZ 85308 (Phone: 602-212-0501 or 1-800-354-1254; Fax: 602-212-0502)


Changes of Ownership

The following institutions had a change of ownership approved:

  • Brighton College in Hudson, OH 44236 is now owned by Designed Leadership Educational Services LLC (owned by Kathleen and Greg Mirabile)

  • City Vision College in Kansas City, MO is now owned by TechMissions in Boston, MA

  • Paralegal Institute in Glendale, AZ is now owned by Designed Leadership Educational Services LLC (owned by Kathleen and Greg Mirabile)


Resignation of Accreditation

The following institution is no longer accredited:

  • Monash University, Victoria, Australia (resignation effective March 31, 2008)


New Courses and Programs

The Commission gave final approval to the following new courses/programs:

Allied Business Schools, Inc

  • Life Science A/B

  • Texas Real Estate Commission Legal Update

  • Texas Real Estate Commission Ethics

  • Essentials in Health Information Management

  • Small Business Management

  • HTML

  • Texas Financing Strategies

  • Texas Fair Housing

American Graduate University

  • Master of Supply Management

American Sentinel University

  • Bachelor of Science in Web Design & Development

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Andrew Jackson University

  • Associate of Science in Health Care Management

  • Composing Your Personal History

  • Associate of Science in Psychology 

Ashworth University

  • Introduction to Financial Statements

  • Introduction to Psychology

  • Online Business Management Program

  • Four new MBA concentrations: Health Care Administration, Human Resource Management, Marketing, and International Business

  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

Aspen University

  • MBA in Finance

  • RN-MSN Bridge Program

  • Master of Science in Health Science

Australasian College of Health Sciences

  • Associate of Applied Science in Complementary Alternative Medicine

  • Master of Science in Complementary Alternative Medicine

California Coast University

  • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice

  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

College of Humanities and Science, Harrison Middleton University

  • Bachelor of Imaginative Literature

  • Bachelor of Natural Science

  • Bachelor of Philosophy in Religion

  • Bachelor of Social Science

  • Bachelor of Science in Education

  • Bachelor of Arts in Education

Sessions Online School of Art and Design

  • Game Art Certificate 

The Taft University System

  • Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.)

Weston Distance Learning ~ McKinley College

  • Associate of Applied Science in Human Resources

  • Associate of Applied Science in Accounting

  • Associate of Applied Science in Marketing

University of Management and Technology

  • Associate of Science and Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

University of St. Augustine for Health Science

  • Transitional Doctor of Occupational Therapy

Title IV Certification

The following institutions were DETC-certified to offer Title IV Federal Student Aid:

  • American College of Technology, St. Joseph, MO

  • Dunlap-Stone University, Phoenix, AZ 


Policies, Procedures and Standards 

The Commission voted to give final adoption to the following changes (these are effective June 7, 2008):

C.9. Policy on Degree Programs - definition of Professional Doctorate

List of Professional Doctoral Degrees Acceptable for DETC Accreditation

The DETC wishes to exercise its scope of activity in the area of professional doctoral degree accreditation in a responsible manner. It also believes that certain professional doctoral degrees are not within its scope of activity. It therefore reserves the right to limit its scope of activity in reviewing professional doctoral degrees to the kinds of institutions and the types of programs for which it feels adequate public acceptance exists, appropriate distance education standards have been developed, and which it believes it has the competence to evaluate properly.

The Accrediting Commission will accept applications for only the following professional doctoral degrees for DETC accreditation:

  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)

  • Doctor of Occupational Therapy (DOT)

  • Doctor of Arts (specified fields) (DA)

  • Doctor of Science (specified fields) (DSc)

  • Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.)

  • Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)


An institution may petition the Accrediting Commission to request special waivers for consideration of any other professional doctoral degrees not listed above.

C.9. Policy on Degree Programs - Allowing transfer of credit for Professional Doctorate

Professional Doctoral Degrees: Awarding degree credit for experiential learning is not permitted.

Transfer credit is limited to 15% of the total doctoral credits required to complete the degree. The courses must be relevant to the student’s program of study and equivalent in both content and degree level of graduate courses.

In all cases, an institution must conform to its state regulatory agency’s requirements on the amount of transfer credit and/or experiential credits allowed.

Business Standards, Section I. Institution and Course Promotion, B. Institution and Course Recognition, 1.f. add the following:

f. An institution may use the terms “College” or “University” in its name only if it offers academic degrees.

Applicants for Accreditation and Re-Accreditation

The following institutions have applied for DETC initial accreditation or five year re-accreditation:

First Time Applicants:

Abraham Lincoln University School of Law, Los Angeles, CA
Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, Sherman Oaks, CA
American Graduate School of Education, Tempe, AZ
Anaheim University, Anaheim, CA
Apollos University, Huntington Beach, CA
BILD International University, Ames, IA
California Miramar University (formerly Pacific Western University), Cheyenne, WY
California University of Technology, Diamond Bar, CA
ChildCare Education Institute, Duluth, GA
Hawthorn University, Whitethorn, CA
Institute of Business and Finance, La Jolla, CA
Institute for Innovative Technologies in Educational Programs, Columbus, GA
International Sports Sciences Association, Carpinteria, CA
National Institute of Whole Health, Wellesley, MA


Aspen University, Denver, CO
Australasian College of Health Sciences, Portland, OR
Griggs University/Griggs International Academy, Sliver Spring, MD
Holmes Institute, Burbank, CA
Hypnosis Motivation Institute, Extension School, Tarzana, CA
National Tax Training School, Mahwah, NJ
Rhodec International, Quincy, MA
Richard Milburn High School, Woodbridge, VA
Seminary Extension Independent Study Institute, Nashville, TN
Sonoran Desert Institute, Scottsdale, AZ
Southwest University, Kenner, LA
Universidad FLET, Miami, FL
University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, St. Augustine, FL

The 2008-2009 DETC Directory of Accredited Institutions is now available from DETC’s web site at

Next Meeting

The next meeting the DETC Accrediting Commission will be January 16-17, 2009. Any comments on the above institutions or all matters to be considered by the Commission should be brought to the attention of the Executive Director by no later than November 1, 2008.


back to top

The Accrediting Commissioners

The DETC Accrediting Commission has nine members and its makeup includes persons possessing either academic or administrative expertise or both. Four of the Commissioners are from outside the field and are considered in every sense to be representatives of the public, and five Commissioners are from DETC member institutions.

For the academic and professional qualifications, and employment and organizational affiliations of the Commissioners, click here.

Current Members of the Accrediting Commission:
The following individuals are the current members of the Accrediting Commission:

Jan M. Larson,
Chair, Managing Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers*
Dr. Gary L. Seevers,
Vice Chair, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Global University
Mary Adams,
President, American Sentinel University
Brook Ellis,
Treasurer, Vice President of Education, Gemological Institute of America
Adelaide K. Cherry
Academic Advisor, Air Force Institute for Advanced Distributed Learning
David W. Curd
President, College of the Humanities Harrison Middleton University
Josette P. Katz,
Professor, Atlantic Cape Community College*
Timothy Mott,
Associate Provost, Distance Learning, Union Institute & University*
Carol S. Osborn,
Deputy Director, DANTES (retired)*

* Public Commissioners

back to top

The Staff

Equally valuable in this process is the Commission’s staff, which assists the Commission in carrying out its mission. The staff provides counsel to applicants seeking accreditation, training for members of the Examining Committees, and continuous communication with states, including the U.S. Department of Education and other relevant agencies. Accrediting Commission staff members serve as observers on Examining Committees; appoint Examining committee members; arrange logistics for visits and Commission meetings; and serve as the central communications link between the public, applicants, other accrediting associations, and the Accrediting Commission.

The Executive Director is the day-to-day administrator of the Commission and the staff, and he manages and supervises the accreditation process. The Executive Director is responsible for liaison between and among the Commissioners, the Examining Committees, and the institutions participating in the accrediting process. Collectively, the DETC staff has nearly 60 years of experience with Council.

For the academic and professional qualifications, and employment and organizational affiliations of the Staff, click here.

DETC Staff:

Michael P. Lambert, Executive Director
Sally R. Welch, Associate Director
Robert Chalifoux, Director of Meetings and Publications
Nan Bayster Ridgeway, Director of Accreditation
Rachel A. Scheer, Information Specialist and Bookkeeper
Lissette Hubbard, Accrediting Coordinator

Joseph C. Luman, Legal Counsel


back to top