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College AccreditationCollege Accreditation: Frequently Asked Questions

What Is College Accreditation?
Accreditation is a voluntary, independent review of educational programs to determine that the education provided is of uniform and sound quality. Being awarded accreditation ensures that an institution has been evaluated and that it met set standards of quality determined by the accrediting organization granting the accreditation. A college or university's accreditation is maintained by continued adherence to the set criteria.

Why is College Accreditation Important? What Type of Accreditation Should I Look For?
There are several reasons accreditation is important besides ensurance of quality and adherence to academic standards. Accreditation determines a school's eligibility for participation in federal (Title IV) and state financial aid programs, as well as eligibility for employer tuition assistance. Proper accreditation is integral for the acceptance and transfer of college credit, and is a prerequisite for many graduate programs. In addition, degrees attained from a school without regional accreditation may not be as accepted for professions that require licensure, the most popular listed below:

  • Accounting (CPA)
  • Architecture
  • Dentistry
  • Engineering
  • Law
  • Medicine
  • Nursing
  • Pharmacy
  • Psychology
  • Teaching
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Pharmacy

The most recognized and accepted type of accreditation in the United States is regional accreditation. Generally, college credits or degrees received at a regionally accredited institution are accepted by other regionally accredited colleges or universities (non-regionally accredited programs are not as accepted). However, this acceptance is not guaranteed; it remains with each institution to establish its own policies based on the determination that the credits accepted meet educational objectives comparable to their own programs.

What Are the Regional Accreditation Agencies?
There are six geographic regions of the United States with an agency that accredits college and university higher education programs:

The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
Accreditation of colleges in the middle states region (Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico).

The New England Association of Schools & Colleges.
Accreditation of colleges in the New England region (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont).

The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Accreditation of colleges in the north central region (Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming).

The Northwest Association Of Schools And Colleges.
Accreditation of colleges in the north west region (Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.)

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Accreditation of colleges in the southern region (Alabama , Florida , Georgia , Kentucky , Louisiana , Mississippi , North Carolina , South Carolina , Tennessee , Texas , Virginia)

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Accreditation of colleges in the western region.

It is often difficult to find a school's accreditation when visiting their Web site or viewing their catalog or other information. You can find out if the college or university you are interested in is regionally accredited by visiting the regional accrediting board Web site for their area (above) and looking up the institution name.

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