Home > Resources > College Prep > Choosing The Right School > Quality Control And College Accreditation

Quality Control & College Accreditation

You’ve heard the phrase before—accredited university—but what does it mean? Well, for starters, an accredited university meets the standards of a federally recognized accrediting agency. These agencies help ensure that the schools stay on track: competitive curriculum, course requirements, and the academic credentials of instructors within the institution are reviewed during the accreditation process. This form of quality control ensures that institutions for post-secondary education in the U.S. consistently enforce rigorous academic standards and produce qualified graduates.

During your college search, you will probably come across a handful of institutions that are not accredited. This typically means one of two things: the university chose to remain non-accredited, or that the institution didn’t meet the standards of the accrediting agency—either way, not the best sign. Legitimate, high-quality, and non-accredited universities do exist, but they are few and far between.

As degree mills (virtual, non-accredited universities) increase in number, accreditation becomes more important—especially for students choosing a distance learning program. Make sure that the education you have paid for will count; find out if college you are planning to attend has been accredited by an agency approved by the U.S. Secretary of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Interested in finding out if your college is accredited?

  • Find out what agency has accredited your university

    This should be fairly easy to do. If the college website has on site search, simply type in "accreditation" and the search should highlight any web pages that contain information on this subject. For websites without an on site search the information can sometimes be found at the bottom of the home page or in an "about us" section. If you cannot find information on a school’s website verifying that they are accredited, call the admissions office and request more information.
  • Check the legitimacy of the accreditation agency used

    If the college does not specify that it has been accredited by a CHEA or U.S. Secretary of Education recognized agency, you will need to dig further. Visit the CHEA.org or Ed.gov and verify that the accrediting agency is listed in either of their databases. Both of these websites offer a free search service so that you can access information about accredited institutions in the U.S. These are the two primary resources.
  • Exercise reasonable caution & common sense

    Particularly if the "accredited" college that you have found sells diplomas or offers students an opportunity to earn an advanced degree based on a short essay about their life experience. If the degree offered seems too easy to obtain, that’s because it is. Degree mills are known for claiming that they are "accredited" universities in an attempt to convince students that the degree they purchase will be recognized by an employer. Employers never intentionally recognize diplomas from degree mills, though they are occasionally fooled by them.

Latest College & Financial Aid News

Colleges Aggressively Fighting Binge Drinking by Banning Fraternities, Sororities

November 14, 2017

by Susan Dutca

Colleges nationwide have stepped-up and implemented indefinite bans on fraternity and sorority activities in hopes of "battling a culture of alcohol abuse." Some student's parents, however, stated that such restrictions "ruined my so-and-so's cultural life." [...]

Thanksgiving College Scholarships for Community Service

November 13, 2017

by Susan Dutca

'Tis the season to be thankful, and Scholarships.com is thankful for its wonderful community of hardworking and dedicated students. As a token of thanks, we've put together a list of scholarships for the most giving, charitable students. Whether you give back through community service or are a part of a social action project, these scholarships award your time and effort by helping you pay for college. For even more giving scholarships, click here. [...]

"OK to Be White" Signs a "Sign of the Times"?

November 7, 2017

by Susan Dutca

"It's okay to be white" signs were scattered on college campuses across the country, as well as in Canada over the past week. Reportedly, the signs were first suggested on an online chat forum called 4chan, calling on people to place posters in their area on Halloween night. At Harvard Law School, at least 20 handmade stickers with the message "It's ok to be white" were posted on light poles and electrical boxes. Harvard Law's Dean of Students Marcia Sells condemned the posters, stating the posters and stickers are "intended to divide us from one another" and that "HLS will not let that happen here." The Department of Public Works removed the stickers shortly thereafter. Even after they had been removed, the message continued to circulate via social media through hashtags and videos, gaining both condemnation and support. [...]