Most online educators are either regionally or nationally accredited. There are many similarities between regional and national accreditation, and some important differences. Both regional and national accreditation are awarded by an accrediting organization that is both non-profit and peer-based, through a strenuous examination of the institutions curriculum, method, and services.

Regional accreditation generally applies to "traditional" academic institutions (Ohio State, University of Pittsburgh, Harvard, University of Phoenix, etc.) while national accreditation often applies to large networks of tech or trade schools (Kaplan Career, ITT Tech, etc).

Regional accreditation is not necessarily better than national accreditation; it is simply designed for a different type of student. Nationally accredited schools offer intensive vocational and technical training. Regionally accredited schools generally offer a broader base of academic and professional education. Among regionally accredited schools are prestigious business, law, medicine, science, and art institutions. Admission to these types of schools is usually much more competitive than nationally accredited career training schools, and programs are generally more expensive.

The most important substantive difference between regionally and nationally accredited educators is credit transfer.