What is Accreditation?
Accreditation is an endorsement of institutions and programs by recognized, outside organizations that indicates the educational institutions and programs meet certain standards of providing quality education. Institutional accreditation applies to the entire institution. Specialized or programmatic accreditation applies to a specific program, such as nursing or psychology. Therefore, a program may be accredited and offered by an institution that is not accredited. Programs that have accreditation that are located in institutions that are not accredited may have professional value but the credits are less likely to be transferable.
National and Regional Accreditation
Accreditors may be national or regional, and both types can coexist within an institution. For example, the entire institution may be nationally accredited while the program may be regionally accredited. Please keep in mind that there are various accreditation agencies and the type of agency will affect the likelihood that your credits will be transferable between schools for further educational opportunities. Students should be aware that most nationally accredited institutions will accept credits from regionally accredited institutions but regionally accredited institutions may not accept credits from nationally accredited institutions. Students should also be very cautious when planning to obtain an associate degree with transferable credits. If that associate degree is obtained from a nationally accredited institution, you may not be able to transfer any credits to count toward your new degree at a regionally accredited school.
Why is Accreditation Important?
Whether you choose to attend college online or on campus, accreditation is a crucial component of your educational success. It is essential that you carefully investigate an institution’s accreditation prior to enrollment. You can then make an informed decision when choosing a school or program that has been properly accredited by a recognized accrediting agency.
Some types of financial aid will not be available unless the institution that you are attending is accredited. In addition, some programs, such as the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, offers opportunities that may require that the student’s degree is obtained from an accredited institution.
An institution or program’s accreditation can affect your future educational planning as well as professional licensure in your field of study upon graduation. Institutional accreditation is not necessarily a guarantee that credits will transfer between institutions, although it does make it far more likely. Students should check with the program to which they wish to transfer to see if credits will be accepted. If you plan on transferring to another institution at any time in your academic career, no school will take transfer credits from an unaccredited university. Additionally, for many New York State professional licenses, graduation from an accredited program is a requirement, with licensure necessary to practice in the field. For additional information on accreditation, please visit Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
How Can I Find an Accredited School?
There are various accrediting agencies and nearly every health occupation has a group that is a recognized accreditor for professional or specialized schools. All of the schools and programs listed on the Health Careers website are accredited. If you are considering a program which is not listed on the website, please verify that both the institution and program are accredited by contacting the institution directly.