What is Accreditation?
Accreditation is a measurement the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) uses to ensure that schools meet rigorous and up-to-date standards of education and professionalism.
To become accredited, schools must undergo evaluation and approval of their curriculums by a DOE-approved accreditation board such as the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
An online college, online university and online school are all eligible for this approval process. Once a school or online college becomes accredited, it is subject to regular board reviews, where the school must prove that it is continuing to evolve to meet students' needs and DOE standards.
3 Reasons to Pay Attention to Online School Accreditation
- Accreditation assures students that they are paying for a quality education approved by the federal government – one that will provide them with competitive skills to bring the job market. Not only does an accredited school assure a student's quality of education, but means you will hold a more marketable credential that employers will perceive as valuable.
- Attending an accredited school ensures that students may continue with their higher education at another institution to earn a master's or doctorate degree. That's right. Schools will only recognize credits earned at accredited institutions, even online colleges, when admitting students to pursue advanced degrees.
- Attending an accredited online college or traditional institution translates to better financial aid options. In order to receive money from federal and state funded financial aid programs, schools must first have a stamp of approval from an accrediting body recognized by the DOE. This means that accredited schools have more financial aid to offer their students.
Types of Online School Accreditation
Because all accrediting agencies are following guidelines and criteria developed by the U.S. Department of Education, they generally apply the same standards when accrediting a school or program. However, there are nuances to accreditation that you should know about:
- The process of accrediting a school is called institutional accreditation.
- Another type of accreditation, called specialized accreditation, refers to a single accredited department, program or school within a larger, possibly unaccredited institution of higher education.
- The AACSB accredits business schools, but doesn't accredit the whole institution.
- Accreditation is granted for specific periods of time, which varies from school to school and program to program.
To find out the length of time a school or program is accredited, simply check with the school itself or the accrediting agency.
The U.S. Department of Education recognizes many national accrediting bodies charged with the task of reviewing and accrediting schools around the country. National accrediting bodies such as the Distance Education and Training Council, the National Accreditation and Certification Board, and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation work as the arms and hands of the DOE.
In addition, there are six regional accrediting agencies:
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
- Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Further accrediting bodies include:
Beware of Online College Diploma Scams
Not only is education a serious investment of your time, it is a serious investment of your money as well. Some diploma mills try to scam students by creating their own accrediting agency and then proclaim themselves accredited. It is imperative that prospective students not only choose an accredited program wisely, but that they can also verify that the program has been accredited by a legitimate agency.
How to Find Out if Your School is Accredited
No need to worry. All online college and online university programs and schools affiliated with All Online Schools are accredited. However, another quick and easy way to verify a school's accreditation status is by visiting the U.S. Department of Education website or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Plus, when requesting information from schools, you simply need to ask.