What Are Tips for Finding Online Schools that Are Accredited?

Online schools offer programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. There are several ways to determine if an online school is accredited, including searching for the school in the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) databases.

Accrediting Agencies

Several government-sanctioned agencies or organizations accredit various types of institutions, including online schools. The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) has links on its website (www.edu.gov), and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) also provides links on its website (www.chea.org).

Important Facts About Accredited Online Schools

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
Fields of Study English, history, business administration, communication, criminal justice, finance, graphic design and media arts, among others
Possible Careers Teacher, graphic designer, writer, financial advisor, economist, public relations specialist, interior designer, art director, logistician

Finding Accredited Online Schools

Tips for Finding an Accredited Online School

With the popularity of the web, online schools have become increasingly prevalent. Online programs are now offered through many public and private campus-based institutions as well as exclusively online schools. The following are some tips for finding accredited online schools:

  • Use a search engine to find an online school. Include relevant phrases, such as 'online accredited schools' and the desired field of study. Limit the search to .edu URLs by typing 'site:.edu' at the end of the search term.
  • Check your state's college and university websites, since most public and nonprofit and some private, land-based institutions are accredited and many offer distance-learning options.
  • Check the NCES (www.nces.ed.gov) for schools with distance learning option. All schools in NCES' database are accredited.
  • Be cautious of online schools that do not openly list program information.
  • Be wary of online schools requiring personal information so that a representative can contact you about the program.
  • If an online school says that it is accredited or you are unsure about its legitimacy, check it out in NCES first. If it is not listed, use the method below to determine if it is properly accredited.

Checking out an Online School's Accreditation Claim

Once you find an online school that you're interested in attending, the school's website should be checked to see what it says about accreditation. If the school offers no information on accreditation, you can assume it is not an accredited institution. If information concerning accreditation is offered on the website, then go to the DOE and CHEA websites to determine if the stated agency is an active, recognized accrediting organization. If it is, do a Google search for the agency and go to its website. Look through the list of accredited schools to see if the school in question is on the list. If the agency is recognized by DOE or CHEA and the school is listed on the agency website, you can assume it is properly accredited.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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