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Employment in Minnesota and College Accreditation


There are several industries in Minnesota that require licensure or certification to work. These industries include police officers, teachers, medicine and hair dressers. In order to qualify for licensure or certification, you will often be required to have a college education, but not all college programs will count. It is important to make sure that the school you plan to attend will help you meet your career goals. One factor that determines whether your school's program will count toward your future license or certification is accreditation.

Students must make sure that the school they attend has the accreditation that will permit them to obtain the license or certification they are interested in.

If you are ever concerned about your school and whether it has the "right" type of accreditation, you should always check with the appropriate licensing or certification board before enrolling.

What is Accreditation?

Accreditation means that a school's quality has been reviewed by an independent agency or association to meet quality standards. The U.S. Department of Education publishes a list of accrediting agencies that they have determined to be reliable authorities on the quality of education or training provided by schools. A school must have accreditation from one of the agencies on that list for its students to qualify for federal financial aid funding.

An accredited school will be regionally, nationally and/or programmatically accredited. For many academic programs, one type of accreditation is not necessarily better than another, but in Minnesota, not all accreditation types are accepted for licensure or certification.

Will my credits transfer?

Although all accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education must meet the same standards, regional accreditation is often called the "gold standard" of accreditation. Credits achieved from a regionally accredited school are more likely transferrable to a different school then those from a nationally accredited school. Some regionally accredited schools will not accept transfer credits from nationally accredited schools. Similarly, some graduate schools will not accept a baccalaureate degree from a nationally accredited school.

What are the names of the regional accreditors?

Regional accreditation is completed by agencies organized in six regional geographic areas in the United States. The regional accreditors are:

  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSCHE) for institutions in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) for institutions in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC) for institutions in Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCUU) for institutions in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) for institutions in Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and Texas
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) for institutions in California, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, Micronesia, Palau and Northern Marianas Islands

If you are going to work in the following careers, you should attend a regionally accredited university:

  • Chiropractic Care^
  • Dietician
  • Licensed Professional Counselor^
  • Marriage and Family
  • Therapy^
  • Nursing^
  • Nutritionist
  • Peace (Police) Officer
  • Professional Counselor
  • Psychology
  • Teacher

What are the names of the most common national accreditors?

Nationally accredited schools historically focused on career, vocational or trade schools. Nationally accredited schools generally accept credits and degrees from other national and regionally accredited schools. The most common national accreditors include:

  • Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) can accredit any institution offering certificates, diplomas, associate, bachelor, and master degrees in programs designed to educate students for professional, technical or occupational careers
  • Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) can accredit any institution offering non-degree or degree-granting programs including associate, bachelor and master degrees that are predominately designed to education students for occupational, trade, or technical careers
  • Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) can accredit any institute offering certificates, diplomas, associate, bachelor, and master degree programs designed to educate students for professional, technical or occupational careers

There are no careers that only accept national accreditation for licensing. The following careers accept regional or national accreditation:

  • Alcohol and Drug Counselor
  • Nursing Home Administrator

What industries use programmatic accreditation?

Programmatic accreditation applies to specific programs, departments or schools within a larger school. Programmatic accreditation applies to many health and medical fields, law schools, art, music, dance, theater or mortuary science. Many nationally or regionally accredited schools have programs that also have programmatic accreditation. Graduates of nationally accredited schools that also have programmatic accreditation are often, but not always able to receive licensure or certification in Minnesota. Some small schools that only have a few programs will only have programmatic accreditation and will not have national or regional accreditation.

The following careers may require programmatic accreditation:

  • Acupuncture
  • Architecture*
  • Athletic Training
  • Chiropractic Care^
  • Dentistry
  • Engineer*
  • Interior Design*
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Law
  • Licensed Professional Counselor^
  • Marriage and Family Therapy^
  • Medicine*
  • Midwifery*
  • Naturopathic Medicine*
  • Nursing^
  • Optometry
  • Oriental Medicine/Acupuncture
  • Physical Therapy*
  • Physician Assistance
  • Podiatry
  • Professional Counselor
  • Social Work*
  • Veterinary Medicine

* Licensing agency allows for evaluation of degree for equivalency if not programmatically accredited.

^ Programs with national accreditation and programmatic accreditation may meet licensure or certification requirements. Students should check with the licensing or certification agency.

Accreditation is not specified for barbers, cosmetology and emergency medical services as those career programs are approved individually by their respective licensing boards.

Accreditation is not specified for land surveyors or geoscientists.

Students can visit the U.S. Department of Education's website to find more information about accreditation.