Accreditation is the process of enforcing quality in educational institutions.
Accreditation provides quality checks for higher education and determines if the schools meet the standards (United States Department of Education, 2010).
There are many different types of accreditation that include regional and national accreditation. Accreditation is an important part of the school selection process for every student.
Accreditation is important to a school, and it is important to your selection of a program because accreditation tells you about the reputation of the school.
It can also give you some insight into how your degree will be “perceived” in your chosen profession.
A program from an unaccredited school will more than likely be dismissed and could make it difficult to convince an employer to hire you—despite your degree.
Not all schools are accredited. Do not assume that simply because you have heard of the school, that it is accredited. This goes without saying, that even if a particular program is accredited, it pays to go out and do some investigative work to understand what type of accreditation the program holds.
There are also instances where accreditation can be removed from a school; therefore, it is essential to verify the current accreditation of a school. In verifying if your program is accredited, the US Department of Education website is your best resource. There are links to both regionally and nationally accredited programs. There is also a search-able database available, where you can search for the school of your choice to determine if it is currently accredited.
The United States Department of Education (2010) recognizes accredited institutions as:
“Accredited institutions have agreed to have their institution and its programs reviewed to determine the quality of education and training being provided. If an institution is accredited by a recognized agency, its teachers, coursework, and facilities, equipment, and supplies are reviewed on a routine basis to ensure students receive a quality education and get what they pay for. Attending an accredited institution is often a requirement for employment and can be helpful later on if you want to transfer academic credits to another institution .”
In exploring the topic of accreditation, it is important to note that schools that are not accredited by the United States Department of Education fall under the “diploma mill” category.
The United States Department of Education recognizes a diploma mill as:
What Is a Diploma Mill?
The Higher Education Opportunity Act defines a diploma mill as follows:
DIPLOMA MILL- The term “diploma mill” is defined as an entity that–
(A)(i) offers, for a fee, degrees, diplomas, or certificates, that may be used to represent to the general public that the individual possessing such a degree, diploma, or certificate has completed a program of post-secondary education or training; and (ii) requires such individual to complete little or no education or coursework to obtain such degree, diploma, or certificate; and
(B) lacks accreditation by an accrediting agency or association that is recognized as an accrediting agency or association of institutions of higher education (as such term is defined in section 102) by–
(i) the Secretary pursuant to subpart 2 of part H of title IV; or (ii) a Federal agency, State government, or other organization or association that recognizes accrediting agencies or associations.
Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines a diploma mill as:
An institution of higher education operating without supervision of a state or professional agency and granting diplomas which are either fraudulent or because of the lack of proper standards worthless. – Webster’s Third New International Dictionary
Nicole Hickland-Harris is the owner of the blog “Educated and Fabulous“. her personal passion is online education. For years, Nicole has been involved in many facets of online education including teaching courses as well as taking them online. To learn more about how her experience in the online education world can benefit you, visit her website today.
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