Finding a Fully Accredited Online High School

The search for private online high schools that are accredited is fraught with pitfalls. With so many logistics to consider and several key criteria to assess, the process can be difficult and time-consuming. That’s why, based on exhaustive research, we are able to offer the following resources.

Our Top Recommendation

One of the best options for an accredited high school online is Calvary Online School. Their rates are very competitive and the quality of the online classes is excellent. Because Calvary Online School is fully accredited*, its courses are easily transferable to other schools or colleges.

Calvary Online School

Private Online High Schools (Accredited)

You can search by institution, by accrediting agency, or both.

How Online High School Accreditation Is Determined

Online high school accreditation is based on the assessed quality of a school’s curriculum, standards, program and policies. Only when an accrediting agency judges that an online high school has met the appropriate criteria in all relevant categories can the school be accredited. For each school in question, there is naturally a degree of prestige associated with being added to a list of accredited online high schools.

Why is it important to attend an accredited online high school?

Accreditation is designed to protect the public, including students, schools, and employers. It ensures that online high schools are actually educating students and meeting the highest quality educational standards. Students who receive diplomas from fully accredited online high schools gain two important academic assurances:

  • firstly, that colleges and universities will recognize their online high school diplomas when they apply for admission;
  • secondly, that their classes will be transferable to these third-level institutions.

Students who graduate from accredited online high schools also benefit as potential employees. Employers who may be considering hiring graduates of online high schools can do so with confidence, knowing that the diplomas awarded by fully accredited online high schools are not the mere products of online “diploma mills,” but reflect the completion of a quality education.

Are non-accredited schools considered fake online high schools?

Not necessarily! Some schools may not be accredited simply because they are relatively new. (Most accreditation agencies won’t even consider a school until it has been in operation for six months to two years.) In some cases, the school’s directors or governing board, generally with the support of parents of students, has no particular interest in applying for accreditation from any of the available agencies. This can be the case with some smaller or specialized schools.

Unfortunately, however, a number of far less forthright “schools” also exist. Such entities are little more than fake online high schools. Often referred to as “diploma mills” that issue “joke diplomas,” they may offer no real benefit but reap significant fiscal rewards themselves from unwary applicants. That’s why it’s so important to use the following criteria when determining the validity of an online high school:

Is the school accredited? And if not, why not? Remember, a school that has recently launched, particularly when that school has entered into the accreditation process, may well be valid. Keep in mind that any agencies backdate accreditation up to a year.

Beware any “GED-like” tests!

If all that is required to receive your diploma is to take a single exam, or a series of online exams—for a fee of course—you are most likely participating in a “diploma mill” and will end up with a worthless piece of paper instead of an authentic diploma. There are only two valid approaches to obtaining a GED:

  • earning a recognized high school diploma by passing all of the appropriate classes
  • taking the national GED test in person at official state-authorized testing centers.

Note that the only true GED credential is one that is officially recognized by state and local jurisdiction authorities. You can find out a legitimate GED testing center by visiting the American Council on Education.  You can also earning a high school diploma online by passing the appropriate classes.

Who grants online high schools the status of “Accredited”?

Accreditation differs according to the type of online high school program. Some online high schools do not meet state accreditation standards from state educational agencies and offer diplomas of no real value. Employers and admissions boards of colleges and universities do not consider these diplomas valid. Therefore the process of obtaining one may rightly be considered a waste of time, given the minimal or low quality of education involved.

Legitimate online high schools are those that are recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The same agencies that accredit reputable brick-and-mortar schools set the proper accreditation standards for online high schools. By contrast, online high schools that claim accreditation status through other agencies, but which have not been officially recognized by the USDE or the CHEA are not valid.

Many online schools also earn accreditation from the Distance Education Training Council (DETC). The DETC is recognized by the USDE and CHEA, as well as by some employers. However, the DETC is not as widely accepted as a regional accreditation agency. Some regionally accredited schools do not accept class transfer credits from DETC accredited schools. Protect your online high school education by prioritizing USDE and CHEA accreditation standards.

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