Accreditation & Transfer Credits
If you plan to do part of your course work at a community college and transfer to a bachelor's degree program, or if you hope to complete a higher degree later on in your life, then college accreditation is doubly important for you. Read how accreditation can affect your transfer status or career options below.
Nearly all legitimate colleges and universities in the United States require that transfer applicants have their credits from a regionally accredited university, or from a Department of Education recognized accrediting agency.
Regional accreditation is accreditation that is given out by nonprofit agencies to schools in their geographic vicinity that meet their standards and requirements. There are six regional accrediting bodies in the United States: Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSACHE), New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACIEH), Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), and Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The Department of Education also has a listing of schools with institutional accreditation; their database lists schools with this regional accreditation and with national accreditation.
Why do schools require this accreditation for transfer credit? It's a way to ensure that transfer students are entering the institution with a recognized set of skills and a certain knowledge base. It can help place students in the correct course level in their new institution.
Besides accreditation, many transfer institutions have additional guidelines that transfer students must follow, in order to have their credits accepted. At some schools, the courses being transferred must also have an analogous course in the catalog at the transfer school; other universities only allow a certain number of transfer credits, whether they can be found in the course catalog or not.
Programmatic Accreditation Requirements
While institutional accreditation is generally always important for students considering transferring, so is programmatic accreditation in many cases. Programmatic accreditation is a credential given to schools not by a regional accrediting agency, but by a more specialized accrediting agency; the certification is given to one department or degree program within the school.
In certain careers, such as nursing or engineering, having accreditation by a state board or specialized accrediting agency is required for earning a license or continuing with your professional studies at another college. In some cases, programmatic accreditation is not required, but it can make it easier to land a job or earn a state license. If you're not sure if programmatic accreditation is important for your career, check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics page for the career you are considering. (ca.gov)