Do you know how to verify a school's accreditation?

Before you enroll in courses at any college, university or other institution of higher education it is important to check its accreditation. The importance of attending an accredited school cannot be stressed enough and can make a huge difference in whether you obtain a position in your field of study. It is also essential if you are pursuing a degree in a field that will later require certification. There are several sources you can use to check the accreditation of a specific school.

Department of Education Database

Under the law the Secretary of Education must publish a list of all accrediting agencies the Secretary considers a reliable source of information concerning the education programs provided by all post-high school educational programs for which they provide accreditation. It is also the responsibility of the U.S. Secretary of Education to recognize any state agencies that are obligated to approve both public postsecondary vocational education and nursing educational programs.

Those students attending colleges outside of the United States must understand the power of the Secretary of Education to recognize accrediting agencies does not extend outside of the United States.  This does not mean there are no accreditation agencies that review educational institutions outside the United States but simply that those activities do not fall within the jurisdiction of the Department of Education.

The Importance of Accreditation

When you are spending a great deal of money on a degree, you certainly want to make sure when you graduate you can obtain a position in your field of study. To increase your chances of working in your career of choice, you want to attend an institution that is fully accredited. This means a recognized accrediting agency has verified that the school of your choice meets its requirements for quality education. It is the job of the accrediting agencies to develop specific quality criteria and determine which institutions meet those standards of quality.  Only those schools and programs that meet the requirements can obtain accreditation through that agency.

How to Verify a School's Accreditation

Fortunately the Internet offers many different ways for students and their parents to obtain information about a school's accreditation. In addition to the U. S. Department of Education database, some of the other ways you can obtain information about the accreditation of your school of choice include the following:

  • Obtain information through recognized authorities in school accreditation. One such agency is the Council for Higher Education (CHEA).
  • Any school you choose to attend will have documentation in its files if it is accredited. This information will provide the name of the accrediting agencies that approved that school. You want to make sure you contact those agencies in order to make sure the school has legitimate accreditation. It is also important to find out how long the school has been accredited and whether anyone has filed a complaint about the quality of the programs at that institution.
  • Do not limit yourself to verifying regional accreditation. If the school you are checking also offers distance learning, you should verify accreditation through the Distance Education Training Council.

In addition to accreditation being important for your future career goals, choosing an institution that is accredited means the school of your choice cares about the quality of the education they provide to students. These schools are more interested in helping students meet their educational goals than in any profit they derive from providing educational degrees and programs.

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