Although specific courses are not accredited, students can find high-quality classes through accredited programs or schools.
Finding Accreditation Status
Information about a school or program's accreditation status is typically available on the school's website. In addition, most accrediting agencies provide a list of the schools that they have accredited on their own websites.
The U.S. Department of Education also provides resources for checking accreditation status. A school's accreditation status can be checked through the College Navigator website, which provides data from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics. Additionally, students can view and search all of the recognized accrediting institutions by going to the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Postsecondary Education website. This department also recognizes state agencies for the approval of vocational educational institutions and nurse education programs.
Who Accredits Schools and Programs?
There are many regional and national agencies that accredit postsecondary institutions, such as:
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Additionally, there are many discipline-specific accrediting agencies that accredit programs and schools, such as:
- Council on Education for Public Health
- National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
- Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education
It is important to choose a school or program that is accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
How Do Agencies Decide Whether to Accredit a School or Program?
Accrediting agencies evaluate schools or programs based on a specific set of criteria. National or regional accrediting institutions may look at entire colleges or universities. There are also specialized accrediting agencies that focus on the quality of specific degree or certificate programs. Some of the measures upon which an agency may evaluate quality include:
- Student learning
- Continuous quality improvement
- Peer review
- Self regulation
Why Choose Accredited Schools and Programs?
In addition to being an indicator of educational quality, accreditation has other benefits. Course credits earned at an accredited institution can be transferred to other accredited institutions in most cases, and many certification and licensure requirements include completing accredited programs. Also, accredited educational institutions can offer students access to federal loan and scholarship programs.
Prospective students can verify the quality of courses and classes by choosing a school or program that has been accredited by an agency that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.