Accredited Education: What is it and why is it important?

 What is accreditation?

Accreditation is a voluntary process run by agencies that determine if an institution meets a standard of quality and control through peer evaluation. Areas of measurement include quality of curriculum, quality of the faculty teaching the curriculum and several other measurements. It is important to verify that your school is accredited and also to understand the difference between the two main types of accreditation, regional and national.

Who are the Accrediting Agencies?

The US Department of Education (USDE) recognizes specific agencies as legitimate. Only students applying to accredited colleges, universities and trade schools are eligible for federal financial aid, employer tuition reimbursement programs, and many other organizations offering financial assistance and grants.

In the United States when people ask if a school is accredited, they are generally referring to regional accreditation. The USDE estimates that 85% of colleges and universities are regionally accredited. Regionally accredited institutions have achieved the gold standard in accreditation. They are Middle States Commission on Higher Education, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the Higher Learning Commission, Northwest Accreditation Commission, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges and Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges

In addition to these seven regionally accredited agencies, there are dozens of national accrediting agencies. National accreditation is for organizations whose scope is not relegated to one area of the country, such as online institutions, and whose curriculum can sometimes be categorized as more technical, vocational, or specific to one area of study. CHEA, The Council on Higher Education Accreditation, recognizes approximately 60 accrediting agencies and also has information on false accreditations listed on their website.

Why should I care about accreditation?

  • Regional and National accreditation are not created equal. Credits are not usually transferable between the two groups.
  • If your company provides tuition reimbursement, not all accreditations are eligible.
  • If a particular educational background is required for licensing, a nationally accredited college degree may not count toward eligibility.

For more Regional vs. National pros and cons click here.

How do I find out if my College or University is accredited?

  • Most often this information is displayed prominently on the institution’s “About Me” section
  • If you are having difficulty, call the school and ask, “What type of accreditation do you have?”
  • Look it up in a directory like the one found on the CHEA

If you have questions regarding a program’s accreditation, please contact your Athlife advisor for assistance.