How Can I Check if an Online College is Accredited?

An institution’s accreditation status should be the absolute top consideration when you are looking into online colleges. You don’t want to put your precious time and hard-earned money into a college that gives you a worthless degree that potential employers won’t accept. Accreditation helps students avoid diploma mills, which are more interested in pocketing your money than in making sure you receive a quality education.

Accreditation is an indicator of quality because it means that an institution or program meets quality standards set by an accrediting body independent of the school. So where can you turn when you need a quick and reliable way to check a colleges’ accreditation status?

A good place to start is the the U.S. Department of Education’s database of accredited postsecondary institutions and programs, a listing of about 6,900 accredited colleges and programs, including many of the top online colleges available today. Just type the name of an institution into the search box provided to see if it has been accredited by a recognized accrediting agency. Have a feeling a school’s accrediting agency is phony? You might be right. Use the U.S. Department of Education’s lists of accrediting agencies as a way of determining if the accrediting body itself is legitimate.

Another place to search for accredited online colleges and universities is the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) database. CHEA is made up of 3,000 degree-granting universities and colleges whose goal is to be an advocate for academic quality through accreditation. The database CHEA maintains contains more than 7,700 institutions妖egree-granting and otherwise what are accredited by recognized accrediting bodies. It also contains more than 18,700 accredited programs. You can even see each school’s accreditation status and the last time they went up for review. CHEA receives these lists from the accrediting agencies themselves. Like the USDE, CHEA also lists recognized accrediting bodies; CHEA recognizes 59 institutional and programmatic accrediting bodies.

While it is good to find a college on the USDE’s database of accredited schools, it is even better to find your college listed both with the USDE and CHEA. If you are taking a vocational program through an accredited college, you may want to see if an online professional organization lists programs recognized by employers in the profession.

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