Learn what accreditation is and the critical role it plays in your education

What is accreditation?

Accreditation is the public recognition awarded to colleges, universities and programs that meet established educational standards. Accreditation assures that teaching, student achievement, curricula, academic support and other criteria meet certain levels of quality. Click here for questions you should ask before choosing a college.

Teenage students in the classroom with teacher.

Why is accreditation important?

Quality Education

Accreditation agencies review and evaluate an institution or program, and provide “a stamp of approval” that standards of quality are being met.

Getting a Job

For professions that require licensure or certification, it may be necessary to pass an exam in order to get a license to work. States may require that students complete an accredited program in order to take the exam. Employers often prefer that students have graduated from an accredited as opposed to non-accredited program.

The type of accreditation is important!

There are different types of accreditation that can impact students’ decisions about where to study:


Institutional Accreditation

Refers to the status given to the entire school or university. While an institution may be accredited, a particular program offered by that institution may not be.


Specialized or Professional Accreditation

Refers to the status of a program offered within a university. Specialized and professional accreditors (also known as programmatic) focus on measures of student learning or competence that are fundamental to the discipline or profession.

If the profession requires completion of an accredited program, students should go directly to the accreditor’s website to verify that the program they are considering is listed as being accredited.

Questions Students Should Ask the Institution or Program

Is your program accredited? If so, by which agency or organization? (Make sure the college specifies whether it has institutional or programmatic accreditation or both – you can go to the accreditors’ websites to verify this information.)

If your program is not accredited, will I be able to work in this or any other state after I graduate? (You may want to verify the individual state requirements for the profession you are considering.)

Is there a required exam or certification to practice in this field? If so, does graduating from your program mean I can take this exam or be eligible for certification?

How important is program accreditation to the employers in my chosen field?

Does this program’s accreditation make me eligible for federal student aid?

Accreditor Members

See a full list of accreditors who are members of ASPA and the professions and fields of study for which they set quality standards.

Quick References on Accreditation

For Students and Student Advisors