One of the most important things to look into when you are choosing a school is their accreditation status. Choosing a school that is accredited will not only impact how potential employers will view your degree but will also play a part in determining your eligibility for state and federal financial aid. It may also impact your ability to receive tuition reimbursement from your employer (if you have that benefit). Many employers require that a school and/or program be accredited in order for the employee to receive tuition assistance. Also, accreditation ensures that a school has met at the least minimum quality standards. So, if you are about to put a whole lot of time and money into school, researching accreditation is the first step toward making sure you will get your money’s worth.

If you have been looking at schools, particularly online programs, then you may have noticed the confusing number of accreditation bureaus you will find listed. The most accepted accreditation in the United States comes from the Regional Accrediting Organizations. The agency that will grant accreditation to a school is based on where the school’s main campus is located. There are also accreditation boards for particular programs. For example, Business School programs can be accredited through the AACSB (The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business).

When you are choosing a school make sure that it is accredited by a legitimate accreditation body to improve your eligibility for financial aid and the reputation of your degree. In the United States, legitimate accreditation bodies are recognized by the Council for Higher Education. Start this part of your research into graduate school by checking the websites of the Regional Accrediting Organizations to see if a school you are interested in is listed. At this point in your search this should be one of your top priorities.

You can visit the website for the Council for Higher Education Accreditation to find links to the six Regional Accrediting Organizations. This website also has a lot of helpful information about what accreditation means, who decides if a school receives accreditation and how accreditation works. You will also find information on international chapters of U.S. accreditation agencies as well as some excellent information on degree mills. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation is a great resource when you are researching schools and trying to balance, cost, convenience and quality. Spending the time to research this now may save you frustration down the road.

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