Accreditation. If you don’t find the magical word even after scouring through the school’s information, you should immediately be on the alert. Accreditation is one of the first things you should be looking for as you research a particular art school, and for the majority of prospective students, the stamp of accreditation can make or break a school for them. We can proudly state that all of our listed schools are accredited, but you may be asking yourself what exactly this means and why accreditation is so important.
WHAT IS ACCREDITATION?
Accreditation is awarded to a school after thorough examination by an outside agency has proven that its curriculum meets certain quality standards. Not only does an art school have to pass this mark to attain the coveted status of accreditation, but it has to do so repeatedly. Regular review cycles by accreditation boards keep colleges on their toes by checking to ensure that the initials standards are more than just met; they must be improved on as advances are made in the arts. Choosing an accredited school means that, outside of any other factors, you’ve enrolled yourself into an institution that guarantees a certain standard of education–and that’s a comforting bit of knowledge when you’re paying to put yourself through art school.
WHO AWARDS ACCREDITATION?
Highest up in the accreditation hierarchy is the U.S. Department of Education. This national federal organization doesn’t do the dirty work of wading through all the examinations itself, but it is the one that determines which agencies can. There is a list of nationally recognized accrediting agencies that the Secretary of Education draws up each year, and among these are both national and regional accreditors. Both types are independent commissions and work on the basis of peer review, where members or a board with expertise in the relevant area makes the decision about the colleges in question.
WHAT DOES ACCREDITATION MEAN TO ME?
It’s more than just the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that your school gets the word “accredited” slapped on to its name; accreditation has very practical applications to art students. Accreditation’s benefits begin with the quality assurance of the classes that you enroll in, extend to the financial aid that students of many unaccredited institutions are ineligible for, and finally follow you out of your college. If you look to pursuing further studies in the arts, having the stamp of accreditation makes it that much easier for you to apply for a graduate program. Many schools will only accept credits and degrees earned from other accredited programs, and this rule applies for both transfers and continuing advanced studies. The subject gets a little more complex when considering regionally and nationally accredited art schools, because the regional ones are sometimes less eager to accept credits from a school outside their area. Still, the process is significantly easier than the other possibility-trying to move from an unaccredited program to an accredited school. It doesn’t completely bar your pathway, but most accredited schools will treat you differently and impose requirements beyond the normal level.
Accreditation is a status that gives your prospective college a significant boost in the educational world. Its usefulness is undeniable, and it can make the often-bumpy road of attending an art school that much smoother. While lack of accreditation doesn’t have to stop you if you’ve got your heart set on a certain unaccredited school, it’s still the best check to run if you’re still open to options. Worried about not being able to tell accredited art schools from the rest of the pack? All of the members of Find Your Art School’s directory or art schools are fully accredited!