We have all heard of schools losing or earning their accreditation. But what does accreditation mean to you? Should you care if you go to an accredited online school or earn an accredited degree?

What is Accreditation?

Accreditation is a process that a school or institution goes through to assure the quality of education meets acceptable levels for the student and the general public. According to the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), Accreditation is a process carried out by private, nonprofit organizations and is a nongovernmental enterprise. Accrediting agencies develop evaluation criteria and conduct peer evaluations to assess whether or not those criteria are met. Institutions or programs that request an agency’s evaluation and that meet an agency’s criteria are then “accredited” by that agency.

Types of Accreditation

There are three types of accreditation: Regional, National and Specialized. Regional accrediting organizations operate in six different regions of the United States and review entire institutions. National accrediting organizations operate throughout the US and are typically focused on a specific mission such as information technology or faith based education. Specialized accrediting organizations also operate throughout the US and review specific programs and some single purpose institutions.

Does Accreditation Matter?

Making sure you take courses and earn a degree from an accredited school is important. Accreditation is required for access to federal and state funds. Course credits earned from an accredited college are easier to transfer. Private companies often consider the accreditation of a school during hiring and tuition reimbursement. Verifying that an online school is accredited helps eliminate the problem of “degree mills” or bogus providers of higher education. And above all, accredited schools have met certain industry standards. This accreditation will help insure that you receive a quality education which is more reputable than a degree from a non-accredited school.

Is My School Accredited?

Both the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the United States Department of Education (USDE) recognize institutions and programs that are accredited. An accredited school or program may be listed by either or both accrediting organizations and means that the accreditors have been reviewed and meet the quality standards of the respective organization. Both the CHEA database and the USDE database should be searched to verify accreditation.