How Do You Know if a Program is Accredited?

Accredited ProgramsFor those seeking higher education degrees, it is as important to know if a program is accredited as it is to know the school’s accreditation status. School and program accreditation ensures that higher educational institutions operate according to high quality standards set forth by regional, national and professional organizations. These standards help to define curriculum content, best practices for instruction, and provide the framework for graduates to successfully transition into their careers. Additionally, appropriate accreditation is required for schools to take advantage of financial aid opportunities.

Where to Look for Accreditation Information

To find out school accreditation or to know if a program is accredited, a good starting place is the prospective school’s website. National and regional agencies accrediting the school can generally be found on the home page or under the “about us” section. Program accreditation can be found on the sponsoring department’s landing site or the degree’s informational page. Accrediting information can also be accessed by entering “accreditation” in the website’s search or index box. In addition to checking the school’s website for accreditation information, The U.S. Department of Education provides a database to find out accreditation status for educational institutions.

Regional Accrediting Agencies

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversees regional agencies that accredit non-profit, private, independent or state schools offering traditional, academically oriented programming. Schools hold initial accreditation for a certain time period and must document their operations then re-apply to remain accredited. There are six regional accrediting agencies:

  • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges – Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – Commission on Colleges
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission

National Accrediting Agencies

Schools that operate as for-profit institutions and offer career, vocational, technical or predominantly online programs usually hold national accreditation. Examples of national accrediting organizations include these:

  • Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training
  • Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools
  • Council on Occupational Education
  • Distance Education Accrediting Commission
  • Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Accreditation Commission

Program Accrediting Organizations

Professional organizations confer accreditation on qualifying schools and programs that follow their suggested guidelines for instructional content and prepare graduates for professional expectations in the field. Here are some examples of some of the most well-know professional accreditation groups:

  • Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology
  • Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs
  • Teacher Education Accreditation Council
  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission

Related Resource: Textbook Costs

Whether public or private, online or on-campus, independent or affiliated, being aware of a school or program’s accreditation status is an important consideration for those seeking higher education opportunities. Accreditation ensures that a school is meeting the requisite standards that qualify its students to become professionals in their respective fields. Taking the time to know if a program is accredited is easy to do and a great way to begin a higher education journey.