How Will I Know If a Online Degree Program I am Considering Includes Relevant Certifications, Or Prepares Me for Licensure?

Pursuing a degree or online college certifications is a convenient way to get the education you need for the job you want. However, it is vital that you research the educational organization in which you want to enroll thoroughly before you commit time and money to your online education. You risk wasting scholarship money or savings and ending up with a degree that is worthless and unrecognized in your chosen field. 

Check with Professional Associations

First, check with the relevant professional organization for your job. By enrolling in online college certifications provided by the organization, you can be reasonably sure that it is a recognized credential in your field. If the organization does not offer online training, check the education page on its website to see which organizations it endorses. In addition, it is important to check job advertisements for the position you want to be sure that the professional organization is one whose credentials are widely accepted.

Talk to Employers

Another way to find out if your online college certifications will be recognized is to talk to employers. Ask what kind of credentials they like to see and which organizations provide the best training. Also, ask them what they have heard about the different online training opportunities you have found. The good or bad reputation of an educational program spreads quickly by word of mouth. Your state’s licensing board or office should also have information about the reputation of training programs.

Accreditation Bodies

Also, check with the education accreditation body that services institutions providing online college certifications in your field. If an online training program you are considering does not have current accreditation from the accreditation association, find one that does. Also, ask about the history of the institutions to see whether former students have made complaints against them.

Institutional Websites

Finally, research the organization’s website thoroughly. The Federal Trade Commission  and the Better Business Bureau  suggest that if the website says that you can earn your degree in less time than you could at a typical, accredited post-secondary school, it is probably a scam. If the website says that the organization has a long list of accrediting agencies that seem a bit over the top, they probably are. Ensure that the U.S. Department of Education recognizes these accreditation agencies.

Furthermore, if the organization gives you credit for several courses just through work or life experience, it is probably not legitimate. If students pay tuition based on an entire degree program or if the school offers discounts if students enroll in more than one degree program, don’t enroll in that school. Students should be charged by the semester, course, or credit hour. Finally, check whether the institution’s address is a legitimate physical address and not a P.O. box.

Search for the institutions you are considering for your online education in the Database of Postsecondary Institutions and Programs on the Office of Post Secondary Education’s page within the U.S. Department of Education’s website. You can also search the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s website for legitimate programs.

Conducting online in-depth research and talking with employers and other students in online forums can help you identify the best online college certifications for you. In many cases, legitimate institutions of higher learning offer well-respected online degrees, certificates and licensure preparation programs. However, you must carefully research each program to avoid falling prey to an online education scam.