While researching colleges and universities on the Internet, you might often come across the term ‘accreditation’ and wonder about its relevance and connection to educational institutions. This article aims to shed light upon college accreditation and the importance it will eventually hold in your future.
What do you mean by College Accreditation?
In simple words, accreditation is a voluntary, independent review process of educational programs offered at colleges and other educational institutions to assure that the education provided is of uniform and sound quality. It is basically a quality assurance system and not a ranking system. Being awarded an accreditation ensures that the institution has been thoroughly evaluated and it has met the preset criteria at set standards by the accrediting organization.
It should be mentioned here that accreditation should not be confused with licensure. Licensure simply gives an institution the legal right to function, that is, to offer on campus and/or online degrees. So it is suffice to say that a licensure cannot be viewed as a guarantee of educational quality.
Why is accreditation important?
Not only does an accreditation ascertain whether the education provided at the institution is of sound quality, but it also impacts a student in more ways than one.
According to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), college accreditation serves five primary roles:
Accreditation is a stamp assuring quality education.In order to be eligible for a federal grant or loan or any other federal fund, the federal government requires for a college or a program to be accredited.
In order to be eligible for state funds, state governments require the college, program or university to be accredited.
Transfer of credits or courses to other colleges or universities becomes relatively smooth and hassle free.
Most employers will recognize the validity of your degree through accreditation.
Who accredits programs and institutions?
In the United States, accreditation is carried out by private, non-profit organizations responsible for accrediting schools and their programs. Accrediting organizations typically fall in to one of these three main categories:
Regional Accreditation Organizations: These operate in the six geographic regions of the United States and review the entire institution.
National Accrediting Organizations: These operate throughout the country and review the entire institution. One example is the Stevens Henager College which has been accredited by the ACCSC (Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges). You can find Stevens Henager College accreditation information on their website.
Specialized Accrediting Organizations: These operate throughout the country as well and review programs and single purpose operations.
Who recognizes an Accrediting Organization?
Accrediting organizations are held accountable through a process called ‘recognition’ which simply means that the accrediting organizations must undergo a review of the qualifications and activities. This process is carried out by the United States Department of Education (USDE) or a private organization called the Council for Higher Accreditation (CHEA).
Where could you find a list of legitimate accreditation organizations?
The Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the United States Department of Education both maintain databases of recognized accreditation organizations along with accredited colleges and universities.
Are Online Colleges Accredited?
Whether online or traditional, a college’s administrator always has the choice of seeking accreditation. We find that the importance of accreditation is understood by online colleges and many choose to seek accreditation just the way their traditional on-campus based counterparts have done. It is advisable to do your research on the college’s accreditation before applying to its program keeping in mind your career track.