Why Does Accreditation Matter in Education Master’s Programs?

For many classroom teachers, the next career step is advancing to a position in educational leadership. To prepare for this transition, most teachers return to school for additional training and expertise, particularly online programs that accommodate their existing responsibilities. When selecting the right online postgraduate institution, master’s degree candidates have a lot to consider. One of the most important concerns is whether or not the college or university is accredited. A school that is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization offers degrees in educational leadership that students, employers and other universities respect. Students who attend a school with the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) accreditation can expect a quality program and a solid education.

What Is Accreditation?

Over 100 years ago, colleges and universities created the concept of a system that would promote and monitor quality education. As opportunities in higher education expanded, the educational community realized that, without the oversight of a neutral party, students would have no way to measure the quality of classes, faculty or educational facilities. This system of peer review and outside evaluation based on critical standards became what we know as accreditation.

Colleges and universities with CAEP accreditation offer high-quality programs. During a review year, CAEP measures the school’s faculty, student support services, finances and facilities, curriculum, and student learning outcomes against rigorous standards. As a recognized accrediting organization, CAEP holds itself to the same high standards it demands of colleges and universities.

Colleges and universities do not have to be accredited. However, schools that offer undergraduate and master’s degrees in education, as well as other professional programs, understand the value of accreditation. If a school’s mission is to offer credentials, certifications and degrees that will stand the test of time and professional scrutiny, it voluntarily submits to regular and rigorous review.

Why Accreditation?

When graduate students devote their time and money to earning an advanced degree in education, they want to invest with an institution they can trust. They want assurance that other institutions and school districts respect the education they receive. By earning a degree from a CAEP-accredited school, graduates applying to educational administration leadership positions will rank highly in the candidate pool.

In addition, many students rely on federal grants and loans to further their education. However, students who apply to colleges and universities that are not accredited may quickly learn that federal aid is simply not available. The fact is that the United States Department of Education is not interested in risking federal funds to support students in unreliable programs. Schools without accreditation can offer no proof that they provide meaningful education or credentials to their students. Without proof of success, the Department of Education does not consider these institutions a worthwhile investment.

The Added Value of Accreditation

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation states that “accreditation is both a process and a status.” Accredited colleges and universities cannot sit idle between review years. In order to maintain accredited status, schools must keep pace with new and innovative ideas and public expectations. Students who enroll in an online master’s degree in education program can be sure that the faculty, classes, student support and facilities in an accredited school meet the most current standards.

Another benefit of earning a degree from a school with CAEP accreditation is the reputation and status of the program within the higher education community. When teachers and other professionals earn advanced degrees from accredited institutions, they can later apply to a Ph.D. program with confidence.

There is no substitute for a quality education. Any shortcuts to earning a Master of Arts in Educational Administration only shortchange the degree candidate and, in turn, school districts and students. An accredited school does more than just make promises. It delivers. Graduate students who attend a school with CAEP accreditation can be confident that they are investing both time and money in a degree worthy of respect.

Learn more about the CSUSM online MA in Education, Educational Administration program.


Association of American Colleges & Universities: Accreditation’s Alchemy Hour: Riding the Wave of Innovation

Council for Higher Education Accreditation: The Value of Accreditation

American Association of University Professors: Accreditation and the Federal Future of Higher Education

Council for Higher Education Accreditation: Degree Mills: An Old Problem and a New Threat

Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation

Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools

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