How to Check if Your Online College is Accredited

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When it comes to education, you want to make the right choice. This is why you need to choose an accredited course. Here’s how to check online courses. 

Choosing what and where to study is a big deal. The wrong subject will get you a job in a field that you don’t like - and even get you in a career you hate. But, the college or university you choose to study at can either constrain or improve your career prospects based on its status and reputation. For this reason, it’s important to find a college that is accredited by a legitimate authority that confirms the institution offers an education that meets certain academic standards.

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But what does being accredited even mean? Accreditation is official recognition by an authoritative board that an educational institution meets a standard set of criteria. According to the US Department of Education, accreditation aims to “ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality.”

Accreditation is important for the reputation and quality of online colleges but also for your career future. Receiving a degree from an unaccredited college could affect your transfer of credits to other schools and whether employers recognise your qualification. If you are considering taking an online course, here is what you can do to check if your online program is accredited.

1. Check With the Regional Agency

When you are choosing your college, the first thing you need to do is check if your chosen institution is accredited by one of the six regional accreditors in the US. Distance Learning Expert, Jamie Littlefield, advises that you find out which state the online program is operating from and then see what regional agency gives accreditation to schools in that state.  

2. Search By Institution

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If you are struggling to find out whether your preferred college(s) is on the list of accredited agencies, there is another simple way to do it. The US Department of Education provides a Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs that allows you to search for accredited online courses either by institution or accrediting agency. You can also search for institutions by name and location. There you can find accreditation information for your selected institutions and compare.  

3. Ask the Institution

There is always the option to ask the institution for better clarification on accredited online courses, though it is advised that you don’t stop there. The institution can’t hide the fact that they don't offer accredited online courses and would probably tell you, but you can ask them if they are planning to seek accreditation. If the college tells you that it has applied, you can check its status with the agency it names. Finding out more information about accredited institutions that offer distance learning opportunities will allow you to see what is available.

4. Gather Opinion

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This is an unofficial method, but it can provide you with valuable inside information from people who have studied at the institution. People within your field, be it your friends, other members of your family or even acquaintances may have studied at the college and know this kind of information already. So it might be a good idea to consult with them and find out if there is anything you should be wary of.

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When deciding on where to study, you want to enroll in a college that has the appropriate academic credentials and ensures you will get the knowledge and experience you need to be recognised as a professional and ultimately find a job in your field.

So did you check if your online course was accredited before applying? Let me know in the comments section below…