How Do I Find the Accreditation for an Online University?

Accreditation information for online universities can be found on the school's official website and the U.S. Department of Education's accreditation database. If you're looking into attending an online school, this article will help you locate accreditation information and teach you how to avoid potentially false accrediting agencies.

Accreditation in Online Universities

Online schools are subject to the same accreditation requirements as brick-and-mortar schools. An accreditation for an online school means that the online school is just as educationally sound as an on-campus school. However, accreditation information for online schools can be difficult to locate and can also be difficult to trust due to the rise of bogus accrediting agencies and degrees. The best ways to determine the identity and validity of an accreditation agency is by consulting a school's website and the U.S. Department of Education.

Important Facts About Accredited Online Universities

Degree Levels Associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees available
Prerequisites Varies, depending upon 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 Retailing, public administration, sociology, nursing, mathematics, human services, history, health promotion, finance
Possible Careers Detective, claims adjuster, loan officer, building inspector, sales representative, budget analyst, logistician, teacher, computer programmer

Official Website of the Online University

Finding an online school's accreditation can be as simple as checking the school's official website. Most online schools have 'about us' pages that list facts about the school; often, schools will list their accrediting agencies here. Other online schools state their accreditation data within the portion of their site that deals with their academic programs. If these areas don't list the school's accreditation, users can simply search the school's site for accreditation information.

U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education's website (ope.ed.gov) offers a useful tool for determining the accreditation of an online school. Users can search the Department of Education's database to learn if an online school has any accreditation information registered with the United States government. The database can also help aspiring students to determine if an accreditation agency is considered legitimate by the Department of Education. While the U.S. Department of Education's database is extensive, it only accounts for accrediting agencies that have submitted their credentials to the database.

Fraudulent Accrediting Agencies

It is very important to find the accrediting information for any online university you're thinking of attending. Some online schools have fraudulent accreditation agencies and provide a relatively worthless education for full price; these schools are referred to as diploma mills. Usually, a quick Google search of a diploma mill will yield results criticizing the school's practices, thereby proving the accreditation as false. If you have any doubt about the accuracy of a school's accreditation, check the U.S. Department of Education's website.

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