How Can I Find Accredited Online Universities?
Students interested in online education can choose traditional schools that also offer online academic programs or schools that only offer programs online. Read on to learn how to ensure your program has valid accreditation.
If you find a university you are interested in, you can go to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) website (www.nces.ed.gov) to verify that it is accredited. NCES provides school accreditation information through its College Navigator search engine as well as accrediting agency information.
Another place to check for accreditation information is the school or program website itself. If the online university is accredited, it will identify the accrediting agency either on the home or information page of its website. Some schools within the university, such as nursing or business, may also be accredited by a professional organization and will usually display the accreditation proudly.
Important Facts About Accredited Online Universities
|Degree Levels||Associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees available|
|Prerequisites||Vary, depending upon intended program; a high school diploma, or equivalent, is typically required for an associate's or bachelor's degree program|
|Concentrations||English, business, marketing, mathematics, nursing, political science, public health, anthropology, sociology, sport management|
|Possible Careers||Teacher, financial advisor, editor, camera operator, computer systems analyst, graphic designer, budget analyst, logistician|
Signs That an Online University May Have Unrecognized Accreditation
If you graduate from an online university with an unknown accreditation, your degree may not be highly regarded by future employers, and credits earned may not transfer to other colleges and universities. The Council on Higher Education Accreditation (www.chea.org) and the U.S. Department of Education (www.ed.gov) can provide tips on how to recognize fraudulent online universities called 'diploma mills,' some of which are accredited by equally fraudulent accrediting agencies. You should do this particularly if you come across the following:
- The accreditation agency claims to accredit colleges internationally.
- The online university claims that international accreditation makes regional accreditation unnecessary.
- The online university does not give a street address.
- The online university's website ends with something other than .edu. An .edu domain doesn't guarantee legitimacy, but it makes it more likely.
- The education program is significantly shorter than standard length or gives significant credits for life experience. While some legitimate colleges give life experience credits, they tend to do so for only a few courses and will require rigorous proof.