In order to take advantage of the accounting profession’s stable growth and excellent salaries, students must make sure that they’re planning to attend an accredited accounting school. Accredited schools offer students the ability to secure federal financial aid, like Pell Grants and Stafford Loans, and the accounting program legitimacy in the eyes of employers, colleagues, and graduate schools. There are two types of accreditation that accounting schools typically benefit from. The first of these is a regional accreditation, which is certainly the most important. A second type of accreditation, known as programmatic accreditation, is optional. This type of accreditation can hint at the prestige of the curriculum and faculty overall.
Start By Researching a School’s Regional Accreditation
The most important credential any accounting school has to offer is its regional accreditation. A regional seal of approval means that the school’s academic programs stand up to the federal government’s standards for rigor, prestige, and successful outcomes. This accreditation also takes into account the level of education obtained by professors and assures applicants that they’ll be attending a recognized degree program that is eligible for financial aid and transferable among all other regionally accredited colleges and universities.
One important note about regional accreditation is that it exists alongside national accreditation for some programs. Many for-profit online accounting programs, for instance, are accredited by a national body for distance learning. Though this is a national body rather than a regional one, it holds the same weight and has the same implications as a regional seal of approval. As long as the national or regional accrediting body is recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation, the program will qualify for federal aid, transfer recognition, and employer recognition. Regional accreditation can be found on the school’s website or on the CHEA’s directory website of all accredited institutions.
Programmatic Accreditation is a Secondary Concern
Programmatic accreditation is a secondary type of accreditation that has no bearing on a school’s qualification for federal student aid or the degree’s recognition by employers and other colleges. Instead, this type of accreditation notes the prestige and rigor of an individual program. Programmatic accreditations are offered by bodies like NCATE, for teacher education programs and the AACSB, for accounting and business programs. AACSB accreditation stands out as the most prestigious programmatic accreditation for accounting students.
To check for programmatic accreditation, which is an added bonus for any accounting program, simply peruse the accounting department’s website or the business school’s website. According to the US Department of Education, typically, an accreditation seal will be displayed on the website along with key information about the type of accreditation the school has and how it factors into the classroom experience.
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Accreditation is a Key Part of Selecting a Good Accounting School
No matter what a school’s representatives might say to the contrary, accreditation is a key part of any accounting program. Indeed, it’s a key part of any degree program at any institution of higher education. Before applying to a school or accepting its offer of admission, research its regional accreditation and verify that information with the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Think of programmatic accreditation, like the AACSB’s seal of approval, as a bonus that will help in the marketplace for entry-level positions or graduate degree programs. By choosing a properly accredited accounting school, students will be given access to doctoral professors, a rigorous program, and excellent career opportunities over the long-term.