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Accredited vs. Non-Accredited Homeschool Programs: Benefits, Differences, and How to Choose

  • Tuesday, July 9, 2024
Accredited vs. Non-Accredited Homeschool Programs: Benefits, Differences, and How to Choose

There are many factors to consider when choosing a homeschool program—curricula format, educational philosophy, and teaching style to name a few. While each of these factors are important, a significant decision homeschool parents face is choosing between an accredited or non-accredited program. 

Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each can help you make an informed choice that aligns with your family's educational goals. Let’s explore the differences between accredited and non-accredited programs and how each type of program can meet your family’s educational goals and family needs so you can make an informed decision.

Understanding Accreditation in Homeschool Programs

Accreditation is a formal recognition that an educational institution meets certain standards set by an external agency. Accreditation is meant to ensure students in an educational institution receive the content knowledge, academic skills, and support required for them to progress in their learning and continue to a college or university. 

An important distinction to note—while an organization can be accredited, individual curricula cannot be. In an accredited homeschool program, the agency does evaluate curricula as one part of their comprehensive appraisal, but curricula sold to homeschool parents for at-home learning cannot be accredited. 


Accreditation can be an indicator of quality and consistency, but it's not the only measure of a successful homeschool experience. Parents have many reasons they choose to homeschool their child, including:

  • Concerns with standardized curriculum
  • Discontent with traditional schools
  • Religious or moral instruction
  • Academic concerns
  • Special needs
  • Safety concerns
  • Health concerns

Let’s explore the benefits of both accredited and non-accredited homeschool programs.

Benefits of Accredited Homeschool Programs

Accredited homeschool programs will have standardized curriculum that aligns with state, national, or international education standards, depending on the accrediting body. For example, AOP’s Ignite Christian Academy is accredited by the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). Accreditation ensures course materials, instructional strategies, and student services meet required educational standards similar to traditional schools. 

As many colleges and universities prefer or require transcripts from accredited programs, an accredited homeschool program will also simplify the college application process and provide reassurance to admissions officers regarding the validity of the homeschool education. When preparing for life after high school, this may be an important consideration for some homeschool families.

A high school diploma for homeschoolers who complete an accredited program will also be awarded, which is important to many homeschool families and provides additional documentation for college and job applications.

Credits earned through accredited programs are also transferable to public and private schools. This can be important if a student transitions from homeschooling to a traditional school setting.

Accredited programs are subject to regular reviews to retain their accreditation, so accreditation can provide parents assurance that the quality of a homeschool program will remain consistent. 

Lastly, many accredited homeschool programs offer access to certified teachers who provide support, grade assignments, and ensure that students are meeting educational milestones.

To summarize, the benefits of accredited homeschool programs include:

  • Education similar to a traditional school setting
  • Ease of transfer to a public K-12 school, college, or university
  • Program quality control oversight

Non-Accredited Homeschool Programs

There are many reasons families choose non-accredited homeschool programs as well. While accreditation review ensures a standardized level of quality for curriculum and student support, it can also create limitations. Many non-accredited homeschool programs provide high-quality curriculum, performing internal quality reviews rather than turning to an external review board. 

For example, AOP’s Monarch, LIFEPAC, and Horizons are non-accredited and the differences in the programs highlight some of the benefits of going this route. Each program teaches subjects from a Christian worldview, while providing homeschool families with different options for curriculum style and mode of learning. 

Monarch provides online homeschool courses for students in grades 3-12, with interactive multimedia tools to support learning. LIFEPAC provides K-12 print core subject and elective curricula designed for independent learning. Finally, Horizons provides K-12 print math, English, and health curricula designed for parent-led homeschool learning. 

Most non-accredited homeschool programs provide a great deal of flexibility in course selection and pace, and parents can choose a curriculum that matches learning styles, teaching preferences, and mode of delivery. Additionally, non-accredited homeschool programs also tend to have fewer administrative requirements such as standardized testing and regular reporting. Families should be aware of their state’s homeschool requirements, which can be found on the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) website. 

A final important consideration is that non-accredited homeschool programs tend to be less expensive since they aren’t required to pay the costs associated with maintaining accreditation, additional teacher support services, and standardized assessments. 

To summarize, the benefits of non-accredited homeschool programs include:

  • Educational content choice
  • Flexibility in course selection and pace
  • Curriculum style, medium of instruction choice
  • Reduced administrative requirements
  • Lower tuition costs

How to Choose Between Accredited and Non-Accredited Homeschool Programs

As you can see, both types of programs have their benefits. When deciding between accredited and non-accredited homeschool programs, consider the following factors:

  • Educational goals: Define the long-term educational goals for your child. Are you aiming for a more flexible, customized education, or do you prefer a structured program that aligns closely with traditional school standards?
  • Financial resources: Assess your financial resources and determine how much you can realistically invest in a homeschool program. Remember that while accredited programs can be more costly, they often provide additional services that can be valuable.
  • College and career plans: If your child plans to attend college, research the admission requirements of potential colleges and understand how they view transcripts from accredited versus non-accredited programs.
  • High school diploma requirements: Will a high school diploma be needed for future employers, college, or the military? Consider your child’s future college and career plans to determine whether a diploma may be necessary. 
  • Support needs: Consider how much support you need as a homeschooling parent. Accredited programs often provide more resources and professional support, which can be beneficial if you’re new to homeschooling or need assistance with certain subjects.
  • Flexibility and control preferences: Evaluate how much flexibility and control you want over your child’s education. Non-accredited programs typically offer more opportunities to customize the learning experience, but this comes with greater responsibility.

Choosing between accredited and non-accredited homeschool programs is a significant decision that depends on your family's unique needs and educational goals. Accredited programs offer the reassurance of standardized curricula, easier college admissions, and a high school diploma, while non-accredited programs provide flexibility and innovative learning opportunities at a lower cost. By carefully considering the benefits and drawbacks of each option, you can make an informed choice that best supports your child's educational journey.

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