How Can You Tell if an Online Program is Accredited?

Accredited UniversityBefore choosing a distance learning program, students need to know how to tell if an online program is accredited. Accreditation is important for several reasons. First and foremost, accreditation speaks to the high quality and degree of rigor enforced by the university’s courses and professors. This certification of academic quality allows courses taken at the university to transfer to other accredited programs, and it allows graduates to use their degree for employment or graduate-level admissions. Accreditation is also the only way for a college or university in the United States to take part in the federal financial aid program, which is often a key way that students are able to afford their studies in the first place.

Start By Visiting the School’s Official Website

The best place to look for a school’s accreditation status is its actual website, which will typically list a mailing address, official accreditations, information on tuition and financial aid programs, and information about individual academic programs. Do a little research and try to find the school’s accrediting body. In most cases, this will be a regional body like the Middle States Commission on Higher Education or the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Sometimes, a national accreditation may be used in place of a regional one. The most common national accrediting body for distance programs is the Distance Education and Training Council, or DETC, according to US News and World Report.

Verify Accreditation Through the CHEA Website

The CHEA, or Council on Higher Education Accreditation, is the authority on university accreditation. The CHEA is an office within the federal Department of Education, and it contains records of all schools that have been accredited. A database on the CHEA’s website will show the school’s name, the accrediting body that has recognized their program, and information about when the school was first accredited or when its accreditation is due for review.

Whether or not the school’s accreditation information can be found on its website, distance learning students should also verify a school’s claims by checking the CHEA’s database. This is the best way to make sure the school is honest about its credentials and to verify that the courses taken will be recognized by employers and other academic institutions.

Look for Professional or Programmatic Accreditation Information

Another key way to verify a program’s quality is to look for any professional or programmatic accreditation that may be granted to some of its academic majors. This type of accreditation is not required, but it’s an additional way to verify the quality and rigor of courses that will be taken. The most common accrediting agencies of this type include the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, the Society for Human Resource Management, and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Nursing programs may be accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and law programs may be accredited by the American Bar Association. These accreditations are secondary, but they add prestige that may help students advance their post-graduation careers in a more dynamic way.

Related Resource: Online Master of Education

A Key Way to Determine Quality and Portability

Regional accreditation will give students information on their program’s recognition, rigor, and overall quality. This accreditation will also let students know that their tuition charges will qualify for state and federal grant or loan programs that can help to make education more affordable. By reviewing how to tell if an online program is accredited, students will make sure that their time and money delivers the best possible return on investment.