This page will walk you through the difference between accreditation for a whole institution, such as regional accreditation, and accreditation for a specific degree program or department, often called programmatic accreditation. Programmatic accreditation is particularly important for certain fields of study, and some schools may lack programmatic accreditation for these fields even if the school as a whole is accredited. Read on for information on this type of accreditation and how to find the offline and online degrees that are right for your field. Earning a degree with all the necessary types of accreditation for your field will make sure employers respect your education.
Accreditation for a school as a whole tells you that all departments at a school meet at least minimum standards for general education, and that the school has the necessary support services to help students succeed. Organizations that accredit schools as a whole look at issues like class sizes, number of qualified faculty, library resources and organizational concerns. These organizations cannot say with certainty that a school offers a comprehensive education in a field like business or computer science, but instead assure potential students that, generally, the institution can meet the needs of its students.
While entire institutions can earn regional accreditation to ensure that the school as a whole meets educational standards, specific departments and degree programs also pursue specialized educational accreditation for departments or degree programs including engineering, business and clinical sociology. Offline and online accredited degree programs use this accreditation not to vouch for the quality of the school as a whole, but instead to provide assurance that the programs they offer meet the standards of excellence set by top academics and professionals in the field.