If you’ve chosen to earn an online degree, the first lesson you must learn is how to know if an online school is accredited. Accreditation is a voluntary process colleges and universities undergo to certify the strength of their education. Accrediting agencies review their members often based on criteria like overall mission, objectives, admissions requirements, student services, curriculum quality, and faculty credentials. Reputable colleges in America will be accredited by one of the six regional accrediting bodies accepted by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Since so-called “diploma mills” are an increasing threat to online students, it’s essential you do your homework to research your prospective online college’s accreditation.
Importance of Accreditation
Diplomas that come from unaccredited schools are barely worth the paper they’re printed on. It’s important to earn a degree from a properly accredited online college to make certain your education will be respected in your field and impress your future employers. Companies want to know without doubt that you have high-quality preparation, especially in today’s competitive job market. Accreditation plays an important role in whether your earned credits can be transferred to another college or recognized by a graduate school. Attending an accredited online university is critical for receiving financial aid from the government and many private lenders too. Receiving an online degree with discipline-specific accreditation in your field can also be a resume boost.
Checking a College’s Accreditation
Finding out whether an online school is accredited can be harder than it seems, because some “diploma mills” lie about their accreditation on their websites. Even if a school boasts accredited programs online, it’s best to go directly to the U.S. Department of Education to double check. Use the College Search page within its database to discover unbiased information on your online college. Simply type in the name, hit enter, and you’ll be shown the search results. Compare the address and phone number to guarantee you select the right school. Then, view the college’s institutional accreditation information. Remember that regional accreditations from the MSCHE, NEASC, NCA, NWCUU, WASC, and SACS reign supreme.
Choosing the Right Accredited Degree
Online students must be savvy consumers to ensure they’re investing in a reputable education that will enhance rather than detract from their career. Accreditation is perhaps the most important factor in finding a good online degree, but it shouldn’t be the only. To find the right fit, you should dig deeper to find online schools offering transferable credits, hand-on curriculum, support services, stellar financial aid, and good job placement rates. It’s also smart to use the College Navigator tool to determine an online college’s student loan default rate. This one statistic can tell you whether the school offers good academic and career support. If you’re choosing an out-of-state online university, guarantee that trips to campus won’t be required too.
Overall, accreditation is an evaluation process through which a third-party agency will determine whether the brick-and-mortar or online university is qualified to educate students. Since tuition expenses are high, you need to make a wise financial investment by choosing only from accredited online schools and avoiding the red flags of unaccredited ones. Now that you’re an expert on how to know if an online school is accredited, you can start your research in finding the best online degree that will provide a bright future.
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