Laypersons and professional alike have been brainwashed to think that to have a legitimate college or university degree, it must be accredited. The average person and most professionals have no idea what accreditation is, they believe or have been told through out the years, that accreditation equals a legitimate degree. This is not true! In fact it takes four years for a college to become accredited, making it technically impossible to disallow unaccredited schools. With this mindset, no new college or university could ever open.
Myth 2: The degree must be a US Department of Education Recognized degree.
This falsehood is where people believe a degree must be recognized by the US Department of Education. The US Department of Education does not, and has never had a responsibility to recognize college or university degrees. There are Regional, National and Professional accrediting agencies, which are non-governmental, non-profit, peer review, third party organizations that the US Department of Education recognizes for the purpose of federal tuition loans. This has nothing to do with making the college or university legitimate. Again, not true!
Myth 3: Foreign degrees are not valid in the US and are inferior in quality to US degrees.
This falsehood is actually funny, that degrees earned outside of the United States are not as good, or not as legitimate as a regionally, national or professional ''accredited'' US degrees. Not true! Most foreign countries require that all colleges and universities be licensed, registered and/or accredited by the country's Federal Ministry of Education (a government agency), which in most cases, is much more stringent that our non-governmental accrediting process. Foreign university administrators laugh at our regional accreditation process.
Myth 4: If the college of university is not listed in my guidebook, itís not legitimate.
Myth 5: A state licensed college or university is not legitimate without accreditation.
Not true. Many colleges and universities throughout the US receive state license or authority to grant degrees. Some are schools are exempt from licensing based on offering only religious degrees. Others decide that the regional, national or professional accreditation (peer review from a non-governmental, non-profit, peer review agency) is not needed. Each state has their own requirements for degree granting institutes.
Myth 6: An accredited college or university is just as inexpensive as non-accredited or foreign programs.
The average for regional, national or professional accreditation can cost from as little as $4,000.00 to as much as $100,000 a year. Who do you think pays for that great privilege of having a degree from an accredited college or university? You do! The cost of being accredited is hidden in your tuition fees. One school I used to list in my book went from a $5,000.00 total tuition to a whopping $27,000.00 for the same four-year program after obtaining their accreditation.
Myth 7: If an education evaluation firm says the degree is not equal to a US accredited degree, it is not.
Educational evaluation firms or agencies are private companies. The opinion that they provide in a written report is just that, an opinion. These firms or agencies are not the US Department of Education and are not governmental agencies. You could send your degree to three or four of these agencies and get two to three different opinion reports.
There is also an educational evaluation membership organization that several of these private companies belong to (pays membership dues). They attempt to give the impression that only their members are qualified to conduct educational evaluations.
Again, not true.
Myth 8: Accreditation is the only true mark of obtaining a quality education.
Well, letís think about that for a minute. All of the US public schools are accredited. Yet we are graduating 18 year olds who canít make change without a calculator and canít spell.
One man, who worked for me while I was in hospital administration, had a four-year degree from Bowling Green State University on an athletic scholarship. He asked me his first day on the job how to spell the word hospital. I pointed to the top of the report form he was filling out.
Myth 9: If my college or university belongs to several professional organizations, it makes my degree legitimate.
Any college or university can join professional and educational organizations simply by paying the necessary membership fees. It has absolutely nothing to do with legitimizing your degree. A perfect example my membership in the American Bar Association, yet I am not a practicing attorney.
Myth 10: State Professional Licensing Boards and Professional Registrations Will Only Accept Regionally Accredited Degrees.
In many states this is true, however, there are exemptions from this requirement in some cases, and those with foreign and non-accredited degrees may only be required to obtain an educational evaluation from organizations like NAHED in Washington DC to satisfy the state requirements. Contact your state licensing board to get their exact requirements before enrolling in any degree program.
Myth 11: Any accreditation not recognized by the US Department of Education is useless.
Actually any third party review of a college or university is a good thing. But just remember, it is an opinion not a requirement and based on the peer review of self-established standards of a non-governmental, non-profit agency. It should not be confused with making that college or university legitimate. Reputation speaks volumes for the quality of a college or university. Many foreign Ministers of Education I have spoken to actually laugh about the US non-governmental accreditation process. The foreign accreditation requirements are much more stringent than the regional accreditation process.
Accreditation in the United States began in the early 1960's as a means for educational institutions (colleges and universities) to demonstrate to the Federal government a basic level of quality in their institution and programs for the purpose of certifying eligibility to receive Federal funds, which include Stafford loans, grants, and research monies.
A non-governmental peer process of evaluation of post-secondary educational institutions and programs was established, developed and administered by private educational associations and commissions of regional or national scope.
The purpose for this short writing is to provide human resource managers and various other professionals with the cold hard facts about the accreditation myth that has been prevalent in our society. The findings from my research are not intended to belittle the importance of any third party quality review of a college or university program by any means. In fact, I am an accreditation evaluator for three such organizations. My only intention is to educate the general public.
Richard J. Hoyer, Ph.D., M.D., Ed.D., has a B.S. (in Applied Psychology); a B.A. (Criminal Justice Administration); Master of Public Administration; M.S. (Environmental Safety and Health); Ph.D. (Public Safety Education); a Doctor of Education (Education Administration and Psychology); Doctor of Medicine in Psychiatry and Immunology. (Russian, not licensed to practice medicine in the USA).
Since 1972, he has been working in such diverse areas as law enforcement supervision; safety, health, industrial hygiene and environmental management; security management; and chief of an industrial fire department and hazardous materials emergency response team. He developed, trained and managed a proprietary police force consisting of 48 employees. He has worked in the area of criminal justice client behavioral health management of persons on probation, parole and work release programs and worked with county, state, and federal inmates at community based correctional facilities.
Dr. Hoyer is the former Chair of the Environmental and Safety Engineering Department at Kennedy-Western University; an Adjunct Professor for the MBA program at Newport University; an instructor at Corning Community College, for their safety (OSHA) and environmental (EPA) compliance programs; and he has taught the Educational Methodology course as an Adjunct Instructor at the New York State Academy of Fire Science. He is the former Associate Dean of Rochester Business Institute, a private business college in New York, where he taught psychology and several business related course.
He designed, developed and managed the undergraduate and graduate programs in Occupational Safety and Health; Industrial Hygiene; Safety Engineering; Environmental Engineering; and Health Science for Columbia Southern University.
He is the North American Educational Accreditation Commissioner for the Educational Quality Accreditation Commission (www.accreditation.info) and Chief Educational Accreditation Commissioner for the Accreditation Governing Commission of the United States (www.agc-usa.org). He is an internationally known author with his book titled: ''A College Degree in Your Spare Time Through Distance Learning'' now in its eleventh edition.
His community involvement includes being a volunteer Director of Safety and Health Education and an Instructor/Trainer for an American Red Cross chapter for five years. He has taught medical students, nursing students, and hundreds of emergency room medical personnel. He has conducted courses in New York State Penal Law, justifiable use of physical force, laws of citizen’s arrest, and defensive tactics. He is a former volunteer technical consultant for a multi-county ''Chemical Hazard Information Team'' and responded to HazMat (Hazardous Materials) incidents to advise emergency personnel the proper and safe chemical handling techniques during and after HazMat emergencies.
Dr. Hoyer holds national and state credentials as a Certified Clinical Psychopathologist; Diplomat in Environmental Sciences; Certified Law Enforcement Firearms and Defensive Tactics Instructor through the Bureau of Criminal Investigation; New York State Certified Fire Instructor; New York State Certified Fire Investigator; State Certified Concealed Firearms Instructor; New York State, Certified Search and Rescue Volunteer; and a Fellow of the Business Management Association (London).