Accreditation in Higher Education and Why It Matters
Earning your college degree takes a lot of time, dedication, and commitment. You know you’ll work hard to graduate, but you also know that earning your diploma will bring you unmatchable pride. This is because your efforts and sacrifices will have paid off—and you’ll be one step closer to your career goals!
Attending an accredited school means that when other schools and employers see your degree, they will recognize your achievement too. If you’re thinking about applying to a few different degree programs, here’s what you should know.
Why Does Accreditation Matter?
Accreditation in higher education is not required for any college or university, but it is highly beneficial. Colleges that pursue voluntary accreditation are able to demonstrate that they’re dedicated to offering students the best academic experience possible.
“Selecting a school that has received regional accreditation ensures that the college or university has been recognized for high academic quality and effectiveness,” said Vicky Bowden, DNSc, vice provost and accreditation liaison officer at Azusa Pacific University.
Accreditation ensures that all students, staff, and curricula are held to the same high standards on a national level. Taking classes from an accredited school makes it more likely that your credits will transfer to other accredited universities without issue. More importantly, graduating with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university can increase your chances of getting accepted into graduate school.
What You Should Look for in an Accredited School
It’s a good idea to invest in a college or university that is nationally accredited because the designation means the school has more access to federal educational funds, including scholarships, loans, and military benefits. Choosing an unaccredited school means you could potentially have to make do without financial assistance.
National accreditation is crucial, but students should also look for a university that has professional accreditations. Bowden explained that professional accreditation is provided by associations that develop standards, policies, and best practices. She noted that these elements are meant to validate the quality and integrity of specific types of programs, like nursing, social work, music, and business.
Professional accreditation is important because if you earn a social work degree, for example, future employers or clients likely won’t question the validity of your degree; the institution’s accreditation speaks for itself.
Accreditation at APU
Azusa Pacific University is dedicated to being a top-ranked accredited institution. In fact, the university received its accreditation by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
Along with its national accreditation, APU holds myriad professional accreditations, including the following:
- The School of Business and Management is accredited by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education.
- The School of Music programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music.
- The School of Nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Board of Registered Nursing.
- The Doctor of Physical Therapy program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.
Accreditation in higher education is not a simple process that all colleges easily accomplish, Bowden noted. “Accrediting bodies set high, achievable standards that institutions are expected to meet or exceed,” she said. “The evaluators are trained academic peers, familiar with the accrediting standards and committed to ensuring the outcomes of the accrediting process remain trustworthy.”
While APU meets the academic excellence requirements of accreditation, it also continues to uphold its faith.”We are unapologetic about our faith-based mission,” Bowden explained. “And, in fact, are expected to ensure our focuses on Christ, Scholarship, Community, and Service are integrated throughout our academic and co-curricular programs.”
Posted: February 25, 2020