Choosing a college or university is a major decision, particularly when it comes to online education. As a prospective student, you want to ensure that the online school or program you’re selecting is legitimate. You want to ensure that the school’s programs align with your career goals, and that it can offer you a quality education that will set you up for success. Many students worry about the reputation of online degree programs and what employers will think about an online school. You are not alone. One way to certify the credibility and quality of an institution – online or on-campus – is to confirm its accreditation.
Accreditation ensures the quality and credibility of a college or university, and can be a critical factor when vetting online degree programs. Because you can’t always see a school in person, and much of your research will be done virtually, accreditation is a must-have feature to have on your checklist.
Attending an accredited, online college or university can give you confidence that your degree will be recognized and valued by employers. Approved and accredited online universities can also ensure that you will qualify for financial aid and professional prospects.
If you are interested in learning about accreditation or want to learn more about why an online accredited university is important, read on. Below we discuss the meaning of accreditation and why it is ever important in higher education.
What is Accreditation?
Accreditation is the formal recognition that an educational institution is credible. Accreditation means that the school has met (and also maintains) a certain level of academic standards, set forth by a third-party, accrediting body. Accrediting bodies are agencies, approved by the Department of Education, that develop an educational criteria for postsecondary institutions. These agencies then conduct evaluations of schools, to assess whether the specific criteria has been met, and award accreditation to qualifying colleges and universities. Accreditation is often based on the quality of academic programs, credibility of faculty, and integrity of administration, combined with other educational factors.
There are two main types of accreditation for colleges and universities. “Institutional” or “regional” accreditation is granted as the school-level, meaning the entire institution – and all its components – meet a set criteria for academic excellence. “Programmatic” or “specialized” accreditation is awarded at the program- or department-level, underlining the high quality of curriculum and faculty in a given program, department, or even school within a university. These accreditations can be awarded to on-campus, online, and hybrid programs and schools.
The Importance of Accreditation for Online Degree Programs
Ensuring the Quality of Academic Programs Online
According to the U.S. Department of Education, “The goal of accreditation is to ensure that institutions of higher education meet acceptable levels of quality.” Accredited colleges and universities have met high standards set by an accrediting agency regarding the quality and integrity of their academics, faculty and administration, student services, and other educational components.
When you choose to attend an accredited online university, then, you can rest assured that you will receive a high quality of education. Whether accreditation has been granted on the institutional or programmatic level, you can have confidence that the curriculum, faculty, and educational services have been approved and recognized for their excellence. Accredited online schools offer great value to students in terms of quality, which in turn showcases on graduates’ resumes. When you are applying for future jobs, employers will recognize the reputation of an accredited online college or university listed.
Qualifying for Financial Aid
When a college or university is accredited, their accreditation status is also recognized by the government. In fact, accreditation is a requirement for students to receive federal aid from the government, to help pay for postsecondary study. According to the U.S. Department of Education, a college or university must be accredited by a “nationally recognized accrediting agency” or “approved by a recognized state approval agency” in order for students to qualify for federal financial aid.
If you are planning to apply for federal student loans or other financial aid via a FAFSA, it is important that you attend an accredited college or university. This will ensure you will qualify for federal assistance to help cover the costs of school.
Meeting the Criteria for Professional Certification and Further Education
Attending an accredited university will qualify you for great job prospects, no matter your field of study. Depending on your career goals, however, accreditation may be a requirement for your future job. In order to become certified and licensed in certain fields, or in certain states, attending an accredited institution is a must. For example, in Connecticut, aspiring teachers must graduate from an accredited educator preparation program to earn their teaching credentials. Aspiring Registered Nurses (RNs) in Connecticut must graduate from a state-approved nursing program in order to pursue their RN license.
Perhaps your career goals don’t require licensing, per say, but require an advanced education, such as a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree. In order to be accepted into many degree programs today, you must have completed your previous education at an accredited college or university. Of course, each school will have its own admissions requirements. However, many institutions will mandate that your prior education was accredited or regionally-approved, so that they can ensure its legitimacy and credibility before accepting you into their program.
This is also true for transfer students. To transfer into many schools today, you will find that accreditation is a typical requirement for admission. Your prospective school will want to know that you have started your education at a credible online institution, and that those previously earned credits will be equivalent in quality to the education you plan to receive.
As stated by the Department of Education, a key goal of accreditation is to “establish criteria for professional certification and licensure and for upgrading courses offering such preparation.” So, if you have plans for the future ahead – whether that means changing schools, applying to an advanced degree program, or earning licensure in your field of work – accreditation will be a key factor to getting you there.
Goodwin University Accreditation
Goodwin University is an accredited, non-profit university in Connecticut. We offer career-focused and flexible programs to prepare students for their future success. This includes online, on-campus, and hybrid (in-person/online) degree and certificate programs.
As a whole, Goodwin University is regionally-accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). This accreditation provides assurance about the quality of opportunities available to students who attend Goodwin.
Goodwin University also boasts a wide array of accredited degree and certificate programs. For example, our online RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). You can read about our accredited programs by visiting us online here.
If you are interested in attending Goodwin University, whether in Connecticut or via an online program, please do not hesitate to contact us. You may call 800-889-3282 to learn more, or visit us online to request more information.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.