What Does IT Mean for a School to Be Accredited?

Colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning seek accreditation from necessary agencies to establish credibility and strong reputations. Accreditation validates a school's credentials by certifying that they meet certain criteria. Keep reading to find out more about what accreditation means.

Why Schools Are Accredited

Accreditation is a process many colleges and universities undergo in order to build a valid, credible reputation among fellow institutions, students and the public. Accredited schools are held to strict standards and must maintain those standards with each renewal. Additionally, schools that are accredited are thought of more highly among employers and other institutions.

Important Facts About Accreditation

Accredited Degree Levels Associate, bachelor, master, doctoral
Types of Program Accreditation Institutional, specialized, programmatic
Fields that Require Accreditation Some include education, legal, and healthcare.
Online vs. On-campus Programs Both can be accredited

Levels of Accreditation

Colleges and universities fall under at least one accrediting agency based on the school's geographic location. In the United States, there are six regional college accrediting agencies. These agencies include the North Central Association, New England Association, Middle States Association, Western Association, Northwest Commission and Southern Association. Each of these agencies evaluates a school based on its mission, objectives, admission requirements, student services, education quality and faculty reputation. Agencies also have a peer review board that handles applications and renewal requests.

Some types of programs may also have specialized accreditation offered through accrediting bodies, such as the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools, the American Bar Association and the Distance Education and Training Council, among others.

Why Accreditation Is Important

Accreditation protects students, graduates and future employers. Undergraduates and graduates typically want to be associated with a reputable school that offers well-respected degrees, which can lead to favorable employment opportunities. Employers want to hire well-educated employees competent in their field.

Accreditation also plays a vital role in the ability to transfer credits from one school to another. You stand a better chance of previous college credits counting towards a new degree program if the former school was accredited. Accreditation may also affect whether or not you're eligible for financial aid, along with what types of aid you may receive.

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