Find Out if the School Is Accredited
An important way a school can show that it offers quality education is
to become accredited. Accreditation means that the school has been approved
by a non-government agency that reviews schools in a region or occupation.
A school should tell you whether it is accredited and which agency has
Accreditation is a voluntary process. While an unaccredited provider may
provide worthwhile courses particularly if a degree is not important to
you, you don't have the assurance of this external review. Beware of statements
that accreditation doesn't matter.
To become accredited, institutions, and programs must demonstrate that
they meet standards established by the accrediting agency. There are two
types of accrediting agencies: institutional accrediting agencies that
establish standards for the entire school and specialized accrediting
agencies that establish standards for programs in specific fields of study,
such as nursing or engineering.
Warning: Phony operators have created their own "accrediting"
bodies with legitimate-sounding names.
The federal government reviews and recognizes accrediting agencies. Ask
the school which federally recognized accrediting agencies have approved
If you are preparing for a licensed profession or are seeking professional
certification, you should make sure that the program or course satisfies
any specialized accrediting requirements. You may not be eligible for
licensure or certification if the program is not recognized by a particular
specialized accrediting agency.
To check the legitimacy of an accrediting agency and claims of accreditation,
U.S. Department of Education
Council for Higher Education Accreditation
Private training firms which do not offer degrees usually do not qualify
for or seek accreditation. For computer training, look instead for certification
by computer software firms such as Microsoft, Cisco Systems, or Novell.
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