What You Need to Know About Accredited Correspondence Schools

Accredited correspondence schools are learning institutions that have been evaluated by an accrediting organization for standards, guidelines and policies relating to academic quality.

Looking to make sure a school is accredited is extremely important before enrolling in any of its distance learning programs. There are some “Diploma mills” that provide degrees not even worth the paper they’re printed on, and these are generally correspondence schools, sometimes with only a PO Box as an address.

In other words, the primary concern with diploma mills is that the degree, certification or credential that they provide to the student for a sometimes large fee will not be accepted by employers, state licensing agencies or even by other schools if transfer of credit is attempted. By attending accredited correspondence schools, you avoid the risk of paying for a worthless diploma.

If you are attempting to obtain federal grants or loans for tuition expenses, it is essential to look for accredited correspondence schools. This is true for some state financial aid programs as well. Employer tuition reimbursement programs usually require that the school be accredited. In order to obtain a state license in some professional fields, school accreditation is required. It is always safest to enroll in accredited correspondence schools or educational programs.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) provides accreditation information on colleges and universities and on accrediting organizations. Seventeen of these accrediting organizations review distance learning schools. The CHEA recommends that you contact the administrators of the facility you are considering and ask for their accreditation credentials; date accreditation received, date of last review, name of accrediting organization, etc.

If it is not one of the accredited correspondence schools, the CHEA recommends that you ask about the transferability of credits and courses to other colleges or universities and the acceptance of credits and courses by licensing bodies and employers.

There are sometimes explanations for a lack of accreditation, since the accreditation process is a lengthy one, so it may not be necessary to rule out a school that is not one of the accredited correspondence schools listed by the CHEA or another accrediting organization, but be certain to obtain references from previous students, faculty, employers in your field or state licensing boards.