Friday, October 30, 2009

How Do I Know If A School Is Accredited?

Since I worked in a Charter School and I now attend a Distance Education program.  I get the "how do I know if a school is accredited?" question a lot.

Here are few quick tips:
*Approximately 1/5 of degree-granting institutions operating legally in the US are not are accredited.
*Currently there are no authoritative lists of institutions/providers.
*There are two types of accreditation: institutional or programmatic
*The 6 regional commissions and associations:
*Although there is no national official government agency for accreditation the Council for Higher Education Accreditation is sponsored by the U S Department of Education as the primary national voice for voluntary accreditation and quality assurance.  The United States Distance Learning Association is another organization that gives approval to programs.
*Google your school's name and the keyword accreditation.  If one of these accreditation organizations don't pop up, I would be wary.
*Another litmus test would be, when researching a distance education program, ask them do they offer financial aid.  The US government will not offer financial aid for an unaccredited school. 

UPDATE: The Council for Higher Education Accreditation has a database that you can look up any school with to see their accreditation status (make sure it matches one of the 6 mentioned above) 

See also: The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs