Getting a degree from an accredited school is key of you want employers to take your education seriously. Here’s how to quickly check the accreditation status of a school, before you sign up for a program.
As we’ve covered in another article, accreditation is a slightly complex issue in the U.S., with a variety of different organizations doing accreditation on a regional basis. You can get a quick overview, however, by going to the U.S. Department of Education’s “Database for Accredited Postsecondary Institutions & Programs” page. It’s possible to search this database in several ways: by entering the name of a school you’re interested in, by searching for all schools in a state or by finding schools that have been approved by a specific accreditation agency.
If you enter the name of a school into the search box and hit “search,” you may get several schools that have similar names (particularly if your school has a state in its name). Click on the name of the school you want to find out about, and you’ll get a page listing its accreditation status. You will also find specialized accreditation info in this page, where accreditation for specific academic programs will be listed. Keep in mind that some schools have different programs accredited by different agencies, or have only some of their programs accredited at all. If the school doesn’t have overall accreditation, make sure that the specific program of study you want to sign up for does.
Another good way to search for schools is by using the drop down box that searches by accreditation agencies. You can find colleges that are accredited by specialty groups like the Council on Occupational Education, the Association for Biblical Higher Education or the Distance Education Training Council (a good one if you’re looking for an online degree program). It’s a good way to turn up more narrowly-focused accredited schools you may not be aware of.
Another highly respected group that has a good site for accreditation search is the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Its accreditation database lists over 7,500 schools that give degrees or certificates, as well as 17,000 plus specific education programs that have been accredited by CHEA, the U.S. Department of Education, or both. And in case a school you’re looking at says it’s accredited by a group that doesn’t sound quite right to you, there’s a good place on CHEA’s site (in a pdf file) to check the accreditation status of the accreditation agencies themselves.