How Can I Find an Accredited Health Science Degree?

Aspiring health care professionals can build a solid foundation by pursuing an accredited health science degree. The accreditation status of the degree and the institution granting the degree will have a big impact on your career track and your future.

Understanding Accreditation

You invest time, money and resources in post-secondary education to earn credentials that will help you get a job, qualify for post-graduate degrees or both. It is important to make sure that degree-granting college you are considering has credible accreditation.

Accreditation is a voluntary process, but it is a way to ensure that the school’s quality of instruction and curriculum content meet standards. It is like a stamp of approval that assures students and their families that the education they will receive is actually valuable. However, the college’s accreditation must come from a reliable accrediting body that is vetted by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

The USDE and the CHEA recognize regional, national and program-based accrediting bodies. USDE accreditation is required for schools to offer federal aid to enrollees. Additionally, credits earned at schools that are not USDE-accredited may not be accepted for transfer credits at other schools. This means that if you started working on a health science degree in a private school that is not properly accredited, you may have to start over should you wish to transfer to a state university for instance.

Types of Accreditation

Pay attention to the accreditation of the college as a whole. Regional accreditation is the gold standard. There are seven regional accreditation bodies, six of which are recognized by both USDE and CHEA.

Some colleges may seek national accreditation that are more specific to the programs offered. The USDE and the CHEA recognizes accreditation by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools, Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools and the Distance Education Accrediting Commission. Note that credits earned at at schools carrying these accreditation may not transfer seamlessly to regionally accredited schools. If you plan on pursuing a post-graduate degree, your options may be limited to a nationally accredited school. Additionally, employers may not value degrees earned from regionally accredited and nationally accredited schools equally.

Some health science degrees may be so specialized that the industry values programmatic accreditation more than any other type. For instance, accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine is more meaningful for degrees in this field.

How to Verify Accreditation

The quickest way to find out if you are signing up for an accredited health science degree is by verifying the school’s accreditation status. This information is usually included in the brochures or on the website. Verify that the accrediting body is one of the USDE- and CHEA-recognized organizations.

For nationally-accredited schools, it may be helpful to find out how the industry values degrees from these institutions. Some employers treat all degrees equally, but others may devalue non-accredited degrees. You can direct your queries to human resources, professional organizations or individuals working in this field.

Completing a health science degree is the right step to establish a lifelong career. This field is expected to be one of the fastest growing job sectors according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. However, make sure to verify accreditation of the health science degree before making a commitment to the college.