What you should know about accreditation and online schools
Online colleges have gained more popularity as an increasing number of students turn to online
education to reach their goals. However, along with legitimate online colleges, the abundance of diploma
mills has also increased. In order to save yourself some precious time and thousands of dollars, we’ll
discuss the importance of accreditation and what to keep an eye out for.
Keep an eye out for Diploma mills
Diploma mills are unaccredited, money-making businesses that hand out fake degrees to students for a
certain amount of money. These agencies are only concerned with making money and the degrees they
hand out hold no value. Diploma mills essentially:
● Award professional degrees in exchange for money
● Require very little or no coursework to secure the degree
● Are unaccredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education
How can you tell if an online school is genuine?
A genuine, reputable online college will hold either a national or regional accreditation of an accrediting
agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and/or the Council for Higher Education
Accreditation (CHEA). You can also refer to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if a college has
met its accrediting standards and is operating legally in a state. An example of one such accredited
online college is Independence University. Independence University is accredited by the Accrediting
Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), recognized by the USDE and offers degree
programs in healthcare and business.
Read up on your college’s accreditation and try to find out if it is regional or national. This is important
if you wish to transfer your credits to another college. Additionally, if you plan on opting for a specialty
program such as respiratory therapy or nursing, it would help if your program has been accredited by
a professional organization. So for instance, it would be beneficial if a respiratory therapy program has
been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).
How can you identify a diploma mill?
It will be easy to identify a diploma mill while doing your research if you pay attention to the following
● Degrees that can be earned within a matter of days. For instance, if a college promises to provide
you with an associate’s degree in a month or 2 months. If the duration of the program looks
suspicious to you, dig deeper and try to look for anything else that might point to the fact that it is
in fact, a diploma mill.
● If the college has no mailing address on their website.
● If the college holds an accreditation from an accrediting agency that is not recognized by the
USDE. In all likelihood, the accrediting agency is fake and its accreditation holds no value.
You need to be careful and thorough with your research when applying to an online college. If you want to
have your degree accepted by future employers, and most of all wish to receive quality education, make
sure you apply to a college that is rightfully accredited.