Schools like University of Phoenix, ITT Tech, DeVry, Corinthian, Kaplan and others are "for profit" schools. Also most of the various “Art Institutes” in many cities. Also known as “proprietary schools”. They tend to be very expensive, the qualifications of the instructors range from very good to awful and their credits are seldom transferable. In addition, most employers only consider candidates from these schools if there are no suitable applicants from a more traditional school.
These schools offer a lot of online programs and this is not to say that online programs are bad. They are not. Some are very good. Even the for profit schools can give you a reasonable education. There are many people who have graduated from these schools and started to make a good living. My objection is that the education they give you is incredibly expensive compared to traditional and non-profit schools, whether online or not. Overall experience is that grads from these schools take a fair bit longer to find jobs than grads from more traditional schools and they have a lot more debt.
Other on line schools like UCLA Extension or Athabasca University in Canada are fully accredited and seen to be excellent ways to get an education. Basically, what you want is the online division of a traditional accredited university to get an online degree that counts for something.
As for going to the classroom courses offered by these for profit schools, even the claimed to be bachelors level courses the for profit schools offer are considered at best by employers to be on par with what you get from a community college. But often they are nowhere close. However, a community college will be far cheaper and community college credits are transferable to a 4 year university in most cases. Credits from the for profit schools seldom will transfer anywhere. The for profit schools even mention this in their TV ads, at least here in California.
That is, few other schools will accept credits from them. However, it appears that Point Park University in Pittsburgh may accept some credits from proprietary schools. See http://www.pointpark.edu/,http://www.pointpark.edu/Admissions/TransferStudents/TransferPolicy
Have a look at this link: http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,2000160,00.html?artId=2000160?contType=article?chn=bizTech
Basically it says these schools are just student loan mills where they get you to sign for big student loans and then they do the minimum possible so you get an education. Just enough so you keep coming. Whether you get a job or default on the loan afterward is irrelevant to them.
I have heard many stories from people who have gone to these for profit schools who have been left with a bigger debt than many graduates from a traditional 4 year university while still not being able to get a job. I personally know a part time instructor for one of these schools and he had to quit after two semesters as he could not keep his mouth shut any longer about how expensive it was compared to a community college.
It has been reported at: http://www.scpr.org/news/2010/07/24/report-feds-downplaying-student-loan-defaults/
that 40?f students that took out loans to go to these “for profit” schools end up in default. With a corresponding hole in those student’s ability to get credit for other things.
In the current academic year (2010), the average tuition and fees a for-profits was $14,000, compared with $2,500 for the average community college.
So if you want an online school make sure it is the extension department of a “bricks and mortar” school. And before you sign, call the registrar’s office of your state university whether they will accept the credits for transfer. If the state university will not accept the credits, run away from signing with one of these “for profit” schools. State universities are a great bargain over online colleges, and you'll get a better education.