Accreditation is essential to consider when finding the right college or program. But what is accreditation, and why should you care? This guide examines accreditation and lists the programs and schools offering accredited master’s degree programs while looking at different accrediting bodies and explaining why choosing an accredited school or program is essential. 

What is Accreditation: A Quick Look

To put it succinctly, accreditation is a process that evaluates colleges and programs to ensure that they meet specific standards of quality. It is a way to ensure that students are getting the best education possible. When you attend an accredited school or program, you can be sure that the institution has been thoroughly evaluated and meets established quality standards recognized by other institutions and employers across the country. 

Why Is Accreditation Important? 

There are several reasons why accreditation is crucial, chief among them being: 

  • Accreditation signifies that the school or program meets specific quality standards. This means you can be confident that you are getting a good education at an accredited institution. 
  • Accreditation can make it simpler and easier to transfer credits between schools. It can also help you qualify for financial aid and scholarships. 
  • Accreditation is required for some types of professional certification. 

To know about accreditation in detail, read the Accreditation Guide

What are the Different Types of Accreditation?

There are two types of accreditation: institutional and programmatic. Institutional accreditation is granted to colleges and universities. In contrast, programmatic accreditation is granted to specific programs within a college or university.  

Institutional accreditation may be national or regional, with the latter being most popular and common for colleges offering master’s degree programs. The six regional accrediting bodies in the United States are: 

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) 
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) 
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) 

The second sort of accreditation is national, which is found chiefly at vocational institutions. Such colleges may also be less expensive and have fewer entrance requirements than regionally approved schools. Here are six main national accrediting bodies in the United States: 

  • Distance Educating Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
  • Council on Occupational Education (COE
  • Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) 
  • Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET
  • Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) 
  • Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) 

Programmatic accreditation applies to a specific master’s program, not the college offering it. This type of accreditation is subject or industry-specific. For example, business programs such as a Master’s in Business Administration may be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSPor the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Similarly, psychology programs may be accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA), and so on. 

What are the Accredited Online Master’s Programs Available?

Accreditation can be applied to the educational institution as a whole or a specific degree program. Either way, choosing an accredited college or program is vital to ensure that one’s awarded degree is recognized. Here are some of the top accredited online master’s programs across various disciplines: 

  • Public Health 
  • Criminal Justice 
  • MBAs 
  • Software Engineering 
  • Education 
  • Communication 
  • Cyber Security 
  • Accounting 
  • Digital Marketing 
  • Nursing 
  • Public Administration 
  • Engineering Management 
  • Organizational Leadership 
  • Healthcare Administration 
  • Game Design 

Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online Masters Degrees

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.

SNHU has earned the Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

Which Schools Offer Accredited Online Master’s Programs?

Several significant elements play a role in an institution being accredited. The criteria used by accrediting agencies to decide whether an institution deserves accreditation or reaffirmation of accreditation are known as the Criteria for Accreditation. Instead of defining minimal requirements, the Criteria have been created to look for evidence of ongoing development by member institutions. Some of the standard Criteria for Accreditation include: 

  1. Mission
  2. Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct 
  3. Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support
  4. Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement 
  5. Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness 

Extracted from a list of the top universities in the U.S. offering accredited online master’s programs are the following: 

  • University of Florida 
  • Indiana University, Bloomington 
  • Central Michigan University 
  • University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign 
  • Fort Hays State University 
  • University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa 
  • Northeastern University 
  • Southern New Hampshire University 
  • Liberty University 
  • Oklahoma State University, Stillwater 
  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 
  • University of Maryland, Global Campus 
  • University of Texas, El Paso 
  • Penn State, Worldcampus 
  • Johns Hopkins University 

FAQs About Accredited Online Master’s Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I choose an accredited college? 

Accreditation is an essential factor to consider when choosing a college or program. It is a sign that the school or program meets specific standards of quality, and it can make it easier to transfer credits and qualify for financial aid. Therefore, it is critical to choose a school or program that a reputable organization has accredited. 

Are accredited online master’s degree programs valued by employers? 

Are accredited online master’s degree programs affordable? 

How do I pay for accredited online master’s degree programs? 

Do universities that offer accredited online master’s programs maintain a high standard? 

What are the admission requirements for accredited online master’s degree programs? 

How do I know if a master’s program is accredited or a school is accredited? 

Additional Resources Related to Accredited Online Master’s Programs

Here are some additional resources prospective master’s students can tap into to location accredited online master’s programs in a field and location of their choice: 

  1. OMC’s Accreditation Guide – OMC’s Accreditation Guide provides in-depth information on accreditation, its benefits, and much more to help students make informed decisions. 
  2. U.S. Department of Education (USDE) – The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) keeps track of recognized educational institutions. Graduate students can check up on a particular institution and the recognized accrediting organization, as well as pertinent education statistics, by browsing the list or using the search tool. The USDE also keeps track of which accrediting bodies are allowed to issue accreditation. 
  3. Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) – The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is another excellent source of information for people interested in the accreditation process and accrediting agencies and to look up the accreditation status of a college. 
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