As you plan for college, accreditation is probably something that you either take for granted or don’t think about at all, but it’s actually a very important factor to consider.  If the college you attend is not properly accredited, you will not be eligible for federal financial aid and you may find that your degree is not worth much.  Accreditation is like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for colleges.

There are two broad categories of accreditation:  National and Regional.  It might surprise you to learn that regional accreditation is usually held in higher regard than national accreditation and was developed more than 120 years ago by the major universities of that period.  There are six regional accreditors in the United States:

Middle States Commission on Higher Education – New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

When you graduate from a regionally accredited college, you can be confident that your degree will be recognized by employers and graduate schools across the U.S.  If your college is not regionally accredited, there is a good possibility that your courses won’t transfer easily elsewhere or qualify you for graduate study at some universities.

With regard to national accreditation, there are a plethora of different accreditors and while many are recognized by the federal government, they aren’t all equal. Many are specialty schools focused on a particular career and nationally accredited schools often are proprietary institutions. (This means they are run as businesses for a profit, unlike a public university or college or a private, not-for-profit institution.) It can be difficult sometimes to transfer credits from nationally accredited schools—such as those overseen by the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities—to regionally accredited ones, and their degrees are not as widely accepted.

All of the Christian colleges and universities found at are accredited.  Most are regionally accredited while some are accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education and still others hold both kinds of accreditation.

So far, we have been discussing how entire colleges and universities can be accredited.  It also is possible for specific programs to hold specialized accreditation. Sometimes this accreditation can be very important.  For instance, if you are considering a major in engineering or social work, you may be wise to look for a school holding accreditation from by ABET (formerly known as the  Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) or the Council on Social Work Education.

Before closing this blog post, let me touch on illegitimate accreditation.  As you probably have concluded, it’s wise to avoid unaccredited colleges. Unfortunately, some schools say they are accredited, but the “accrediting agency” is not a legitimate one. How can you know if an accreditor is at all credible? Visit the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) website to see a list of recognized accrediting agencies.  Or you can just stick to colleges found on the site in order to feel confident that you’re dealing with reputable institutions!

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