Why Accreditation Matters
Don’t waste your time and money. If that degree isn’t from an accredited school, potential employers won’t care that you have it. Here’s why accreditation matters.
Here’s How it Works
Some accrediting organizations review colleges and universities; others examine specific academic programs such as law, medicine and engineering.
An accreditation evaluation includes an in-depth self-review by the school or program against a set of standards in areas such as faculty, student support services, finances, facilities, curricula and student learning outcomes.
In addition, an evaluation team of peer experts does an on-site evaluation of the institution. To retain accredited status, this review is repeated every three to 10 years.
In the United States, there are six regional accrediting agencies, each covering a different section of the country:
Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
New England Association of Schools and Colleges
North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Individual programs or departments may be accredited by specialized – or program-based – accrediting organizations.
Why You Should Care
You can’t get federal grants, loans or other federal funds unless your college, university or program is accredited.
Many employers simply won’t hire workers from non-accredited schools.
Also, many employers will only provide tuition assistance to employees for continuing education if the school or program is accredited.
Credits or degrees from non-accredited programs often are not transferable to an accredited institution.
Know the Difference
National accreditation is done by career-related organizations and is not the gold-standard of accreditation. Regional accrediting agencies are generally thought to be the most reliable and are the ones that accredit schools that offer a broad range of programs.
Degrees from regionally accredited schools will always be accepted everywhere.
Understand Your GI Bill Benefits
The Post-9/11 GI Bill factors in accreditation
You can use your benefits at any “approved” institute of higher learning.
Typically, accreditation is a major factor that determines whether a school or program receives VA approval.
“A school’s accredited status should be an important factor in making a decision to attend a college or university. A degree from a non-accredited institution may be considered worthless by prospective employers and work done at the non-accredited institution may not be accepted if the student wishes to transfer to an accredited college or university.”
~Tim Willard, Director of communications for the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
About the Author: Shane Christopher
Shane Christopher is the Editor-in-Chief for G.I. Jobs magazine.