How Can I Make Sure I Enroll in an Accredited Degree Program?

Accreditation is important for students to verify. A diploma from a degree program that is not accredited may not get you the college admission or job you seek. Later in life, attendance at an unaccredited school could result in accusations of fraud and a loss of reputation, career and money. To make sure that you are enrolling in an accredited degree program, take the precautions described below.

Making Sure that You're Enrolling in an Accredited Degree Program

Find the College's Accreditation

The school should proudly display its accreditation on its website and literature. If the information is not on the home page, check the 'About' section or use the website's search function to locate accreditation information. Then, visit the accrediting agency's own website to confirm that your school is listed. A search engine like Google can make locating the accrediting agency's website easier.

Degree Program Accreditation

Some degree programs, including those in law and many medical fields, require their own accreditation or should have approval from an accrediting commission for the profession. Look up your desired field's professional association to learn whether your degree program needs to be accredited. The American Bar Association, the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission and other such organizations maintain a list of approved or accredited degree programs.

Check the Accrediting Body

The most widely recognized accreditation for colleges and universities in the U.S. comes from the area's regional accrediting board. Some other accrediting organizations are legitimate. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (www.chea.org) provides a good explanation of accreditation and a list of real accrediting organizations approved by the Council. The U.S. Department of Education (www.ed.gov) provides a list of accrediting agencies it approves. Look to see whether your school's accrediting agency is listed by these organizations. Accreditation mills that accredit fraudulent degree programs often create a name that is close to a genuine accreditor's, so check closely.

Still Not Sure If You're Enrolling in an Accredited Degree Program?

If you have more questions about the school's accreditation, contact the accrediting organization listed by the school. Most schools with legitimate accreditation provide contact information. Checking the College Navigator database on the National Center for Education Statistics (nces.ed.gov) website can also give you information about the accreditation a school or particular degree program holds. This website can also help you confirm if a school is for-profit or nonprofit.

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