How Do I Check a College for Accreditation?

Accreditation agencies review schools and educational programs to see if they match up to certain academic standards. Accreditation is provided by a variety of regional and national organizations. Online resources are available to help check a college's accreditation.

Accreditation Overview

Accreditation is a sign that a college meets important educational standards. However, some schools may list outdated or incorrect accreditation information or be accredited by a disreputable agency. Here are the steps to follow to determine a college's accreditation status and ensure its legitimacy.

Important Facts About Accredited Institutions

Degree Levels Associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees available
Prerequisites Vary according to intended program of enrollment; a high school diploma, or equivalent, is typically required for enrollment in an associate's or bachelor's degree program
Concentrations Archaeology, business administration, classical civilization, English, journalism, international studies, physics, theater, sociology, philosophy
Possible Careers Translator, interior designer, construction manager, engineer, actuary, teacher, financial examiner, sales representative, fashion designer

Check the College Website

The simplest place to start is the college's website, which should mention any accreditation it has earned. This information is usually found on the front page or the site's 'About' section. You may also want to check the pages of schools or departments for information on specific programs. For instance, nursing program accreditation may be listed on the homepage for the college's School of Nursing.

Check the Agency's Website

When you find out which accreditations your college claims, you can double-check them. Doing an Internet search on the name of the accrediting agency will turn up its website. Many accreditation agency websites have a searchable database of every college and program they have accredited. If you find the name of your college in this database, you will know the accreditation is current and correct. The site should also provide additional information, such as when the college was first accredited and when it is next scheduled for review.

If you're looking for an accredited college, but you don't have a specific one in mind, using accrediting agency websites is a good way to search for qualified schools in your area. Some agencies also specialize in particular fields you may be interested in. There are agencies that focus on accrediting theological schools, distance education schools, dental programs and many more.

Check the Federal Database

Just as you checked to ensure the accreditation is legitimate, you will also want to see if the accrediting agency is acknowledged as a reliable authority on educational quality. The Department of Education (www.ed.gov) provides an online database of accrediting agencies that have been recognized by the federal government. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (www.chea.org) is an association of colleges and universities that reviews and recognizes accreditation agencies. The group provides a database of qualified agencies on its website.

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