There are a lot of online courses out there and some come with accreditation while others do not. In this brief article, I intend to answer the question: Are non-accredited courses worth it?
If you’re interested in accredited certification, you will probably want to check out my list of free online courses with accreditation. I update that resource daily.
I’ve earned a number of unaccredited certificates that I’ve added to my LinkedIn and resume, which you can find links to on my about page
Differences Between Accredited vs Non-Accredited Courses
International, national and regional accrediting bodies are organizations that are officially recognized and sanctioned to create legally recognized certificates, awards, diplomas and/or degrees.
If you have the option to take a course that is accredited or basically the same course unaccredited, then you should always choose the accredited option… unless the unaccredited option is significantly cheaper without sacrificing too much quality. At the end of the day, accreditation is an assurance of quality, both for you, the course taker, as well as to prospective employers.
What is the Reason for Accredited Courses?
The whole problem is this: anyone can form a cheap company and start issuing certificates, awards, diplomas, and degrees. In fact, there are companies out there that will sell you any degree you want without any studying, course-work or testing involved and for barely any money. You just pay and receive your PhD or whatever you chose in the mail. The catch is that these are unaccredited degrees and any employer who scrutinizes these fake degrees will quickly conclude that you’re untrustworthy.
This is the problem with unaccredited degrees and is the reason that legally recognized accrediting bodies were formed. The accreditation process is there as a quality assurance measure to vouch for the legitimacy of the award.
Frequently Asked Questions & Answers About Online Course Accreditation
Q: Is it worth doing a non accredited course?
A: Yes, non-accredited courses are always worth it if your goal is to learn a particular skill and the course successfully teaches you that skill.
Q: How do you know if your degree is accredited?
A: If your college, university or program is in the U.S. then you should search for them on the Council for Higher Education Accreditation website
. If you’re outside of the U.S. then check this exhaustive list of international accrediting bodies
to see what applies. Generally, your school’s website should also list their accreditation. This also answers the question: how do you tell if a course is nationally Recognized?
Q: Can I get a job with an unaccredited degree or certificate?
It depends. For industries that are legally required to employ certified professionals, the answer is no, you need to be accredited by a recognized body
For other positions, even some highly technical positions, an unaccredited degree is good enough. If the person hiring only cares that you know the required skills, then an unaccredited degree or certificate is just as good as the accredited version for that job.
You should always seek accreditation in compliance with local, regional and national laws for the following industries:
- Practicing medicine (doctor, dentist, nurse, nurses assistant, etc.)
- Practicing law (lawyer, legal assistant, law enforcement, etc.)
- Practicing accounting (accountant, book-keeper, financial analyst, etc.)
- Construction (Building inspector, electrician, plumber, etc.)
- Architecture (Architect, civil drafter, etc.)
- HVACR (Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanic, Repairer or Installer, etc.)
- Industrial Engineering (_____ Engineer, etc.(
- And more! Be sure to Google whether or not accreditation is required in your jurisdiction for your chosen career path.
Q: What does it mean if my college is unaccredited?
While an unaccredited degree may still help communicate to others that you have mastered a particular skill or career path, what it does not do is allow you to get jobs that require legally sanctioned accreditation.
If you look at the last question and answer, you’ll see that I listed a bunch of industries and jobs that require recognized accreditation. These are the types of regulated jobs, such as doctors, lawyers and accountants, where getting an unaccredited degree is worthless. However, for something less regulated, like web design or interior decorating, an unaccredited degree or certificate may be all you need to get the job. Regardless, it is not ideal to have an unaccredited degree.
Q: Are unaccredited degrees recognized?
A: The answer is: no, unaccredited degrees are by definition not recognized. The very term “unaccredited” could be substituted with “unrecognized” so instead of saying “unaccredited degree” we could say “unrecognized degree” and it would mean the same thing. The entire point of “accreditation” is to recognize and validate degrees that have merit against fraudulent, low quality or dangerous degrees that have little or no value.
Q: What is a non-accredited course?
A: This is a course that does not provide college credits, a recognized certificate or award. Just because a course is presented by an accredited body, such as a college or university does not automatically mean it is an accredited course. Many non-accredited courses provide a certificate of completion, but obviously these certificates are not issued by a recognized accredited body.
Q: Is a non accredited degree good?
A: It may help in some careers that do not require strict certification, but in general it is considered inferior to an accredited degree. Also, if you want to continue your education in college but you have a non-accredited associates or bachelors degree, it is almost certain that they would not recognize your previous unaccredited degrees.
Q: What is an accredited qualification? What is a recognized qualification?
A: In most places, an accredited qualification is an accredited certificate, diploma or degree issued by an accredited institution. However, the term “qualification” in some areas has a specific meaning. For instance, in some places an Accreditation (in the form of an award or certificate) is issued after completing a short course while a Qualification (in the form of a certificate or diploma) is issued after a longer set of courses to prove your mastery of an entire skill-set. The phrase “recognized qualification” is another way of saying “accredited qualification.”
Q: Are online degrees recognized? Are online degrees accredited?
A: They can be. It depends on whether or not the school offering the degree is accredited and that the student in question is enrolled properly and on-track with the program requirements to earn their qualification. Check out the answer to the second question “How do you know if your degree is accredited?” for more information on how to determine if your online school is accredited or not.
Q: Do courses need to be accredited?
A: No. If a course teaches you want you want to learn then it has fulfilled it’s purpose. Accreditation is only useful when trying to prove you’ve learned something to another person, such as a prospective employer. This means that you only need an accredited course if you’re looking to easily prove your knowledge of particular skill to other people. If you just want to learn a new skill, accreditation has nothing to do with it.
Q: What is accredited training?
A: Accredited training means that you will receive an accredited certificate, diploma or degree issued by an accredited institution upon successful completion of the training course in question. In contrast, non-accredited training means you will not receive a recognized award for completing the training course.
Q: Is it bad to go to a non accredited school?
A: It is not ideal and in most situations should be avoided if possible. However, if you’re not in school for the certificate, diploma or degree, but rather are just trying to learn new skills and knowledge, then in that one particular scenario it is fine. However, accreditation is a quality metric, and unaccredited schools may not have the same quality of courses compared to a properly accredited school.
Q: How do I know if an online course is legitimate?
A: If you can verify the online course provider is accredited, then the course is legitimate. Next, you can search online for reviews of the course or course provider (that’s what this website specializes in.) If you can’t find any reviews of the course or course provider, then be wary. They are either extremely new or a illegitimate.
Final Thoughts On “If It’s Worth It To Take Unaccredited Courses”
Accreditation exists as a form of quality control, and in those regards it is successful. The process of getting a school or organization accredited is time consuming and expensive, which also serves to filter out lower quality learning providers. Unfortunately, some good up-and-coming schools who do meet all or most of the criteria for accreditation will have to remain unaccredited due to the burden of actually acquiring accreditation.
However, if you’re primarily interested in learning a new skill, then as long as the courses you take accurately teach you those skills, then there is no problem with those non-accredited courses. The real problem is if you were to earn degrees that basically turned out to be fake, or if you thought you could get a job but find out their are strict qualifications required by law that excludes your non-accredited award.
At the end of the day, if you’re taking a cheap online course to learn something, don’t worry about accreditation… but if you’re looking to build a strong resume or CV and to get a higher end job with your degree… well then, make sure you get an accredited degree! The extra cost is definitely worth it in those situations.
Thanks for reading. Please, let me know in the comments below if you have questions about this, or if you have any additional comments or concerns. Happy learning!