Regional and national accreditation agencies provide an unbiased stamp of approval. Regional accreditation applies to more broad-based programs or schools; nationally accredited institutions typically focus on a specific trade. The six regional accrediting bodies in the United States are: the New England Association of Schools and Colleges; the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges; the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges; the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges; the Western Association of Schools and Colleges; and the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges. These six organizations work cooperatively with each other and are recognized by CHEA and the USDE.

At both the regional and national accreditation level, agencies ensure that the education you receive meets certain quality standards and passes judgment through a stringent evaluation process.

Many times, graduate programs require that a certain number of credits be taken at the school where your degree will be issued. The graduate school or specific department where you are looking to enroll determines whether credits can transfer, so this is one of the first questions you should ask if you are concerned.

As a general rule, transferring earned credits from non-accredited schools to accredited schools is nearly impossible, although exceptions exist when transferring from a school outside the United States. Transferring credits from national accredited schools to regionally accredited schools can also be difficult.

Keep reading: Find Out if Your School or Program is Accredited