What is University Accreditation in the U.S. and Why is it Important?

Thursday, November 2, 2023


When enrolling with a U.S. university, online or on-campus, it is essential that you confirm the institution's accreditation status. Read on to learn what accreditation is and why it is critical. 

As you evaluate which university is right for you, there are several factors you’ll need to consider to ensure you’re getting a high-quality, legitimate degree. Especially as an Indian student looking to earn a U.S. degree from home, you’ll want to feel confident in your choice of higher education.A U.S. university’s accreditation status is a key factor to look for when choosing a university to study with. 

Keep reading to learn more about what accreditation means, why it matters for a U.S. university and how to confirm if an institution is actually accredited. 

What Does University Accreditation Mean in the U.S.? 

In the U.S., universities undergo voluntary, rigorous evaluation processes to demonstrate their high standards of academic quality by independent agencies recognized by the U.S. government in order to be awarded accreditation. Institutions that offer online, on-campus or hybrid courses are all eligible for accreditation. 

An institution can hold either national accreditation or regional accreditation. 

National accreditation: This type of accreditation is generally given to vocational centers, trade schools and for-profit institutions. 
Regional accreditation: This level of accreditation is considered the most prestigious type of accreditation as the quality of academic standards and admissions criteria are generally the most rigorous. Regional accreditation is generally awarded to private nonprofit institutions and public, state-owned institutions. 

The University of San Diego is regionally accredited. 

How Does a U.S. University Become Regionally Accredited? 

Six regional accrediting agencies are recognized and overseen by two U.S. government agencies - the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) and the Nonprofit Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). These six agencies work to accredit universities and colleges based in the following regions of the U.S.: 
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC): California, Hawaii, and related territories New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE): Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont 
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC): Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming 
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE): Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands 
  • Northwest Commission on College and Universities (NWCCU): Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington 
  • Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC): Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia 
Note: USD's degree programs are validated by the U.S. Regional Accrediting body (WASC) and recognized in the U.S. by the U.S. Department of Education. These degree programs do not have official recognition by Ministries of Education outside the United States.  

How Does USD’s Accreditation Benefit Me? 
For students from the U.S., their financial aid from the U.S. Department of Education is dependent on their university’s accreditation status. Though, as an Indian student studying at a U.S. university, accreditation is critical for you for the following reasons: 
  • Quality and oversight: If an institution is accredited, that demonstrates that they meet high academic quality and student experience standards. Universities are regularly re-evaluated to ensure these standards are maintained and accreditation can be revoked if they fail to meet the standards of the accreditation body. 
  • Credit transfer: It is much simpler to transfer academic credits from a regionally accredited university, should you choose to transfer to another U.S. institution. This is because the quality of the education can be guaranteed. 
  • Employment: Employers will often look into your credentials when you go through the hiring process. With a degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution, your employer will know that you have undergone a rigorous education that is respected and recognized by U.S. accrediting bodies.

How Can I Ensure my University is Accredited? 
Before you enroll with a university, it is essential that you confirm for yourself that the institution is accredited. The U.S. Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs (DAPIP) enables you to search for your institution in order to confirm if it is accredited. 

Earn a Degree from a Regionally Accredited U.S. University Online from India with USD 

Since USD is regionally accredited by WASC, you can be sure that we meet the high standards of education and the holistic student experience expected of a top-tier institution. To learn more about why we are offering a suite of our online programs to Indian students, check out our blog post on our U.S. website. You can take the first step towards your master’s degree today, by starting your application or by connecting with an advisor via WhatsApp, phone, or email.