How Can I Tell if an Online Doctoral Degree Program Is Accredited?

Online doctoral degree programs are available from many schools, in many fields of study. Learn why accreditation is important and how to determine if the online program you are considering is accredited.

About Online Doctoral Degree Programs

Online doctoral degree programs allow working professionals to earn an advanced degree without giving up their jobs. You need to choose an accredited program to avoid wasting time and money. This article will show how to make sure the online program you're considering is properly accredited.

Important Facts About Online Doctoral Degree Programs

Prerequisites Graduate degree; some programs admit students with only a bachelor's degree on the condition that they complete prerequisite courses
Degree Fields Business administration, information technology, nursing, criminal justice,
Possible Careers Audiologist, chiropractor, dentist
Degree Types Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Doctor of Education (EdD), Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
Median Salary (2018)$71,410 (Chiropractors)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)12% growth (Chiropractors)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Why Accreditation is Important

Although graduating from an accredited online doctoral degree program will not guarantee you employment in a particular field, ensuring the accreditation of any program you are considering is vital. Accreditation signals that a program is teaching to the industry's professional standards, producing graduates who are ready to assume leadership roles. Many professions, including engineering, teaching, and psychology, require licensing, and graduation from an accredited degree program is typically a requirement. Below are several ways to determine the accreditation status of a program you are considering.

Contact the School

If you've identified an online doctoral degree you'd like to apply for, check the program's website. If the program is accredited, the degree-granting institution should list the accreditations on the site. If you can't find any, the program is most likely not accredited. E-mail or call the school to make sure. You can often find accreditation information in 'About Us' sections. Some websites have a whole section devoted to accreditation.

Search the Right Database

Another way to verify that an online doctorate degree program is accredited is to search the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) Database. The DEAC is a nonprofit institution that allows you to search all distance learning programs (including online programs) accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Ask a Professional Association

Many professional associations provide listings of accredited educational institutions in their respective fields. To verify that an online doctoral degree program is accredited, try checking the appropriate professional body's website or contact them with your inquiry. A list of a few of these associations is provided in the chart below.

Field of Study Professional Association
Agriculture American Association of Farm Managers; American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
Architecture National Architecture Accreditation Board
Business Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
Counseling American Counseling Association
Social Work National Association of Social Workers
Teaching National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
Veterinary Medicine American Veterinary Medical Association

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