Accreditation is an important consideration for students who are pursuing a degree at a college, university, or vocational school. Accredited institutions have to meet or exceed the number of standards that ensures their students will receive a quality education.
Is the school that you are considering among the internationally accredited universities that employers or graduate programs will look favorably on?
Let’s take a look at what accreditation means and why it matters.
What is Accreditation?
The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) defines accreditation as the process of reviewing the quality of the education that a college or university is offering. In the United States, 19 organizations can offer accreditation to a college or vocational school. Programs can also be accredited by one of 60 programmatic bodies.
While accrediting bodies are private organizations, their legitimacy rests in whether they have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education of CHEA. The process of accreditation involves several steps. It can take as long as two years for a college or university to receive a stamp of approval.
Most accreditations are regional, but there are national, specialized, and international accreditation organizations. National bodies will focus on schools that offer programs that aren’t typically found in colleges. The Association of Institutions of Jewish studies is a good example of an organization that offers national accreditation. They will accredit academic institutions that offer a minimum of one program focused on Jewish studies or degrees.
International accreditation becomes a bit more complicated because the U.S. Dept. of Education does not recognize foreign accrediting bodies. However, this doesn’t mean that American students aren’t able to access financial aid for foreign study. There are over 750 international schools that participate in the federal loan program.
Internationally accredited universities undergo the same rigorous evaluations that American schools do. They undertake a months-long self-assessment study, submit a detailed application which is reviewed by the accrediting organization, host evaluators who visit their campus and then wait for either full accreditation, conditional accreditation, or rejection
The most important question students should be asking is, “Is a degree from another country valid in the U.S.?”
Why Is Accreditation Important?
Accreditation is key for several reasons. The most important is being able to feel confident that you will be receiving a quality education. It is a serious legal status that assures students that the Dept. of Education or CHEA has approved these accrediting organizations to evaluate schools against a set of standards
Accredited schools, including internationally accredited universities, have shown that their students enjoy positive outcomes from their education. They tend to have high retention and graduation rates, and employment outcomes are positive.
If you’re seeking federal financial aid like grants and loans, the school you choose to attend has to be accredited. The Dept. of Education Federal Student Aid website has information about internationally accredited universities that are eligible for funding. And if you’re considering a program where you will be transferring credits, it’s critical that you are informed about the school’s accreditation status. Knowledge is power!
How Is an Institution Accredited Internationally?
As a student, you likely have a clear mission. You want to receive a great education, have a positive and engaging college experience, graduate, and work at your dream job. By now, you will grasp that a college’s accreditation will influence reaching your goals as much as the hard work you put into realizing them. It can’t be stressed enough that a prospective student should aim for one of the many internationally accredited universities or colleges.
There are many international accrediting bodies, but not all are legitimate, so thoughtful and concise research is wise when considering studying at a foreign school. There has been a surge of diploma mills and illegitimate accrediting agencies that have popped up in recent years – be sure to do your homework. Once again, the Federal Student Aid website is a reliable source of information and maintains a list of international schools that meet the high standards of accreditation.
Online learning has become increasingly popular because of the flexibility it offers students. If you’re considering pursuing a degree online, it’s advantageous to confirm that your school is accredited.
The University of the People is a great example of an accredited school that is 100% online. They offer several degrees and certifications, all tuition-free. Their global student body can pursue an education without needing to negotiate many of the traditional hurdles facing college students.
UoPeople is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) which is recognized by the U.S. Dept. of Education and the CHEA. Admission requirements include having a high school diploma or equivalent and proof of English language proficiency.
Are Foreign Degrees Valid?
The students who graduate from Internationally accredited universities will not need to ask themselves, “Is a degree from another country valid in the U.S.?” Because no one body or organization recognizes foreign degrees or qualifications, it’s up to schools and employers to navigate a few systems.
Transferring credits from a foreign school to one in the U.S. is generally painless if your origin college or university is one of the institutions recognized by Student Federal Aid. If it isn’t, you will need to pay for an evaluation service.
Most U.S. employers will recognize the hard work you put into getting an education, and they will accept your international degree. However, they may need to be assured that the courses you took to graduate are equivalent to those that would have been required for the same degree in the U.S.
You will be asked to have your foreign degree evaluated by an approved agency that will do the comparison and provide a third-party report to your employer. It is important to also understand that some jobs, like nursing, will require you to take the applicable state licensing exams
The Bottom Line
There are so many decisions to be made when applying for college or university, transferring schools, or seeking employment after graduation. It can be a challenge to determine whether you have received or will be receiving a degree from one of the internationally accredited universities.
With careful planning and methodical research, you will be well on your way to not only receiving a top-notch education but if you graduate from an accredited school, you will have the answer to “Is a degree from another country valid in the U.S.?”