Accreditation Facts for Online Master’s Degrees

In order to provide you with a top-quality education from a trustworthy institution, most traditional and online colleges and their programs strive to be accredited. To understand the gravity of accreditation, you should first know what it means. In a nutshell, accreditation is the process in which institutions and their programs undergo strict evaluation to determine whether or not they meet educational standards for measuring quality. Online and traditional colleges are accredited by nongovernmental entities and governmental accrediting agencies. These agencies are recognized by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, as reliable authorities for evaluating the quality of education or training at higher education institutions. Once a school is accredited, it is subject to annual reviews of its teachers, coursework, facilities and equipment to verify that the school and its programs have continued to uphold these standards. Online master’s degree programs undergo the same academic evaluation as traditional, on campus master’s programs.

Students can check their school’s accreditation status, as well as the approved U.S. Department of Education accrediting agencies, on their institutional database. This government search site lists about 6,900 accredited online and traditional colleges, and is always updating newly accredited schools to the list. Accreditation directly affects students in many ways. A college’s academic reputation and eligibility for Federal student aid is dependent on whether or not the institution is accredited. If you attend an unaccredited university, you may not be able to transfer credits from one institution to the next. It is up to the institution’s discretion if they want to recognize unaccredited college credits. Also, many employers do not accept degrees from unaccredited colleges, because they may be skeptical of your institution and the validity of your degree.

Graduate students are also encouraged to attend an accredited university to avoid being tricked by diploma mills and other educational scams. Diploma mills are businesses that profit from posing as legitimate colleges and selling academic degrees and diplomas without evaluating any students’ academic work. These businesses distribute degrees by a student’s life experiences, and they often claim accreditation by non-recognized or unapproved accrediting bodies. They offer quick, easy ways to earn a master’s degree, but chances are they will never be acknowledged by an employer. As stated before, you should always check the accreditation status of colleges through reliable Web sites. Also, be on the lookout for schools with mysterious online offerings, such as degrees that can be earned unusually fast and require no verification of previous academic work.