SEE ALSO: Accreditation online colleges and programs
Accreditation verifies that online colleges and programs meet certain quality standards. Put another way, accreditation means students’ degrees, certificates or diplomas hold universal value. Accreditation is generally offered on a regional or programmatic basis, but certain organizations focus on a special type of education, like online learning. Many professional organizations accredit academic departments rather than specific degree programs, or limit accreditation to undergraduate or graduate programs specifically.
Anyone thinking about attending an online college should investigate its accreditation status. Accreditation is especially important for students who need the education for professional advancement. Organizations that provide certifications, employers and graduate schools will usually accept only those with an education from an accredited institution.
Even students who don’t care about getting a degree or receiving an academic credential should care about accreditation. Accreditation provides a means of quality assurance that the education received meets certain standards; it also ensures that their time and money won’t be going toward a ‘diploma mill.’ Note that some accrediting bodies are more reliable than others, however, so students are encouraged to confirm prospective programs are accredited by an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).