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What Does University Accreditation Mean? 

What Does University Accreditation Mean?

College accreditation is a lot of random jargon. But the truth is that it’s vitally important to students. Without it, you’re unlikely to be able to access federal financial aid or transfer credits. Understanding how regional and national accreditation works can help you make an informed decision regarding your education.

What is Accreditation?

If you’re considering getting your degree online, finding out if the university is accredited is essential. While there are a lot of factors to consider, accreditation is one of the most important. Accredited universities and reutations like the Grand Canyon University reputation, are more likely to be recognized by employers, able to provide financial aid, and can transfer credits quickly.

They also have high standards for student learning and can offer career support and resources. Choosing an unaccredited school can be dangerous, as it may make you ineligible for federal loans and scholarships, limit your options for transferring, or even keep you from working in the field you want to. Luckily, several nationally recognized accrediting agencies evaluate schools and specific degree programs.

These include the USDOE and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. A school’s accreditation is as essential as checking its location, ranking, courses, and tuition fees. Whether you are going for a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate, make sure the school is accredited.

How is Accreditation Determined?

Typically, university accreditation comes from independent accrediting organizations like Grand Canyon University accreditation. These organizations comprehensively review the college or university to confirm it meets a basic quality standard for its student body, professors, and facilities.

Depending on the type of reputation and accreditation, these reviews can be conducted at an institutional or program level. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation is a widely-recognized group of accrediting agencies and maintains a list of those they deem reputable on their website.

Many accrediting organizations are privately run and make money through membership dues from colleges they oversee. In the US, there are two general types of university accreditation — regional and national — while programs may be accredited at a specialized level.

Students must research a school’s overall accreditation status and program-level accreditation, as these can significantly impact a graduate’s ability to find employment or transfer credits between schools.

Why is Accreditation Important?

Accreditation may seem like a random piece of college jargon, but it is significant for students. It is how employers, institutions, and other organizations trust that students have been educated to the appropriate level.

University accreditation is done by several agencies, each with a different focus. There are regional and national accrediting agencies. These accredit universities, colleges, and even individual programs in specific fields of study. Students should check with the US Department of Education to determine if a school is accredited and by which agency.

Students should also know that most financial aid (like federal loans and grants) is only available for accredited students. Some scholarship and corporate tuition assistance programs also require that students attend accredited institutions.

In addition, a lack of accreditation can limit access to employment opportunities in specific careers. Specialized accrediting agencies provide accreditation to pre-professional and professional programs within universities. These are often career-focused, such as nursing or law.

How Does Accreditation Affect Students?

A college’s accreditation plays a significant role for current and prospective students. For example, employers often only consider applicants with degrees from accredited schools. In addition, some financial aid programs only provide funds to accredited school students.

Likewise, only some colleges will accept transfer credits from accredited institutions. Accreditation is something that takes time to happen. It’s a lengthy process that involves extensive self-evaluation, peer reviews, and site visits.

To gain accreditation, an institution must demonstrate that it meets all of the standards set by its accrediting agency. These standards include maintaining financial stability, high student achievement rates, a strong faculty and staff, legal authority to operate in the state, a clear mission statement, and an ongoing commitment to academic excellence.

Institutions are categorized as regionally or nationally accredited and may also receive specialized accreditation for specific degree programs. These are more common in fields like medical and legal education, where specialized accreditation is necessary.

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