There are many questions to answer before enrolling in a new degree program. Can I afford it? Will there be enough time to get the assignments done? Will I like my professors? One question that doesn't get enough attention, however, might be: Is the program accredited?
What does accreditation have to do with your future? Learn more about this term and how it influences the quality of your education.
What Is CAEP Accreditation?
Accreditation looks a bit different from industry to industry. For those seeking an education-related degree, it ensures that the educator preparation is of good quality and gives teachers what they need to effectively lead classrooms and instructional environments. Not only is accreditation of benefit to the student, but it also challenges higher learning institutions to assess their programs and make adjustments as needed. Continuous improvement is a key component of accreditation, since schools need to stay compliant to keep their accreditation status.
What Is CAEP?
CAEP stands for Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. CAEP's mission is to "advance equity and excellence in educator preparation through evidence-based accreditation that assures quality and supports continuous improvement to strengthen P-12 student learning."
Offering this service since 1954, CAEP exists to provide accreditation to bachelor's, master's or doctoral programs that train teachers and offer education credits for education professionals. Accreditation can also apply to any certificates or licenses that educators may seek from post-secondary institutions. CAEP's stamp of approval deems the programs or courses offered by any given school as legitimate.
How Do Accredited Schools Benefit Graduates?
The internet is full of companies and organizations that claim to offer a high-quality education. While there may be some unaccredited schools that provide some knowledge or skills training, there are also many disreputable providers that offer little in the way of an education or a recognized degree. Rather than risk time and money on unproven schools, it is prudent for prospective students to seek out accredited programs. Not only will your degree or certificate from an accredited institution be accepted and recognized by the education industry at large, you'll also avoid supporting the causes of "degree mills" and the companies that run them.
What is a degree mill? Degree mills, like diploma mills, exist to make money without offering a quality education in return. Because they operate without oversight of accreditation standards, their degrees and certifications are considered worthless or even fraudulent. The only way to protect yourself against these misleading organizations is to research and choose an accredited school.
CAEP accreditation offers peace of mind when making the major decision to further your education. When you finish an accredited program, you have the assurance that your degree will be recognized and taken seriously by:
- Educational institutions
- Professional organizations and societies
- Licensing boards
- Government agencies
Putting an accredited school on your resume, for example, leaves no question that you did indeed earn the degree or certificate you paid for.
How Do I Know My School Is Accredited?
The school you are researching should be able to cite CAEP accreditation in its qualifications for teaching, but you can also verify this on your own. Both the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) offer lists of accredited programs. If you can't find your institution on either list, it may no longer have accreditation, even if it did in the past.
The Master of Arts in Education programs at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) are all CAEP-accredited and offer a quality education in as few as 18 months. If you're considering the next step in your career journey, EMU's programs have earned the seal of approval from those who know what a quality education looks like.
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