How do I check out an online degree program?
December 28, 2008 4:36 PM   Subscribe

What's an unbiased resource for checking out the value of credentials obtained through an online degree or distance learning program?

I am interested in obtaining a Masters in Acquisition or a Masters in Contracting, and have been looking for a good online degree program that will be respected by employers (federal government or government contractors) once I complete it. Specifically I am leaning toward a program at American Graduate University. Does anyone have any opinion of this program, or how I might go about checking it out?
posted by gm2007 to Education (6 answers total)
A while back, an enterprising reporter discovered a high number of Bush Administration appointees citing a particular distance learning degree, just by doing a Google search of the .gov region.

So you could try going to Google and typing "American Graduate University" to see where AGU folks have landed.
posted by johngoren at 5:21 PM on December 28, 2008

AGU is not a diploma mill, but it doesn't have the best accreditation. AGU is accreditted by DETC. The link below describes potential problems.

"The Distance Education Training Council (DETC) has been accrediting correspondence schools since 1955. Today, hundreds of distance learning colleges and high schools have been granted accreditation from the DETC. Many graduates from DETC accredited schools have used their degrees to gain promotions or to continue in their studies. But, others have been disappointed to find that their degrees do not hold the same weight as diplomas from regionally accredited schools."

From here
posted by pseudonick at 5:42 PM on December 28, 2008

Best answer: Well, you know that they have a Department of Education recognized accreditation. A relevant national trade association stands behind it. You can contact the NCMA, become a member, go to a few networking opportunities and ask around because as far as "value" goes, you should try to find opinions from people who actually hold a degree from the program or from other similar programs. What do they think that it's done from them? Did they find it relevant? What opportunities did it open up? Did they wish they had chose a different option. Things like that.
posted by mrmojoflying at 5:49 PM on December 28, 2008

And as pseudonick mentions, the DETC is typically used to accredit vocational training programs and not university degrees, but it sounds like that is what you are seeking is vocationally related, so the difference between "votech" and "university" might not be as relevant.
posted by mrmojoflying at 5:51 PM on December 28, 2008

There is an interesting and relevant discussion on the wikipedia page (and its talk and recent history) for the Distance Education Training Council (DETC).

I'd assume the government wouldn't give you trouble about claiming the masters degree, because DETC is a recognized as an accreditor by the Department of Education. But I personally would be a bit skeptical, AGU doesn't yet have a wikipedia page. (Which shouldn't be a big deal...and yet)

Some online programs are accredited by top accreditation bodies. I did some looking to check and for example Colorado State University offers an MBA in business with no residency requirement accreditted by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) which seems as respectable as they come.

How you check out these programs is by looking at who accredits them.
posted by pseudonick at 6:26 PM on December 28, 2008

I agree with looking at a school's accreditation- some accrediting bodies are rigorous, some not so much. You can look them up on College Source.
posted by desjardins at 12:43 PM on December 29, 2008

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