Do Employers Care About College Accreditation? Yes — Here’s Why

Kim-Ling Sun
Updated September 19, 2023
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Graduating from an accredited college assures potential employers you received a quality education.

An accredited degree also saves employers the time and expense of administering a test to determine whether you have the requisite knowledge and skills for the role.

In many fields requiring licensure, a firm may hire you before you take your required certification exam. In nursing, for example, graduates often get hired under a temporary order due to the current nursing shortage while waiting to take their licensing exam.

By graduating from an accredited college or program, you can instill confidence in future employers that you’ll do your job — and do it well.

Why Is College Accreditation So Important?

Attending an accredited institution ensures you’re getting a quality education. It also means other colleges are more likely to recognize your coursework if you decide to transfer or apply to graduate school.

Programmatic accreditation is especially important for professional fields like nursing and teaching. Graduating from an accredited program ensures that your degree, as well as any certifications or licenses you get afterward, holds value in the competitive job market.

Employers often prioritize applicants who attended an accredited school or program. Accreditation is one easy way companies can quickly verify that you have the necessary skills and credentials for a certain position.

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Why Do Employers Care About Accreditation?

Most companies prefer graduates from accredited institutions because they feel more confident you’ll have the skills and knowledge needed for the role.

Employers also benefit from hiring graduates of accredited schools because they won’t have to spend money training new hires on entry-level skills. Instead, they can focus on company-specific training, helping you advance more quickly in your career.

Employers also pay close attention to accreditation if you earned your degree online. Attending an accredited school assures the employer you can handle the duties of the position you applied for.

Most employers place the same value on an online degree as they do on an on-campus one, so long as you earned it from an accredited institution and not a diploma mill.

What Careers Require You to Have an Accredited Degree?

A professional program that lacks accreditation can make it extremely challenging to find a job in your field, if not impossible. Hiring managers often verify candidates’ programmatic accreditation. Without it, you’d be unable to sit for most licensing exams.

Here are some popular careers that require licensure and an accredited college degree.


You must graduate from an accredited ADN or BSN program to sit for the NCLEX-RN. Passing this exam, along with applying for state licensure, clears you to begin working as a registered nurse.


Public school educators must graduate from an accredited program or accredited alternative certification program. Educators must also pass their state’s certification exams. Some states participate in teacher certification reciprocity agreements.


To become a certified public accountant, you must graduate from an accredited college and pass the Uniform CPA Examination.


Aspiring lawyers must attend a law school accredited by the American Bar Association. You must also sit for the Bar Exam in the state you wish to practice.


To work as an architect, most states require you to earn a bachelor’s in architecture from a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. In addition, you must be licensed in the jurisdiction you wish to practice in.


To become a licensed therapist, you’ll need to meet state requirements for supervised hours and graduate from an accredited program. Several organizations accredit therapist programs, including:

  • Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education
  • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
  • Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council

What Should You Do if You Attended an Unaccredited School or Program?

If you spent years earning an unaccredited degree, what can you do? Though your options may be limited, don’t lose hope! Here are some tips to help you navigate the path to employment.

  1. 1

    Disclose Your Unaccredited Degree

    The U.S. Department of Education warns that applying for certain jobs with an unaccredited degree is illegal in some states.

    For careers requiring licensure, you must disclose that you earned your degree from an unaccredited institution. You can do this by simply including a brief note after the school’s name on your resume.

  2. 2

    Apply for Positions That Don’t Require a Degree

    If you’re required to disclose your school’s accreditation status in your state, the worst thing you can do is knowingly lie on your resume.

    One alternative is to apply for positions in the same field that do not require a degree. An entry-level job can help you get your foot in the door. And noting the completion of the unaccredited degree will highlight to your employer your ability to complete what you started.

  3. 3

    Provide Strong References

    Another way to mitigate an unaccredited degree is to provide your future employer with stellar recommendations.

    Completing internships in your field provides you with invaluable work experience and gives you the opportunity to ask for a letter of recommendation from a supervisor. Strong references may help employers overlook the fact you got your degree from an unaccredited school.

  4. 4

    Highlight Your Qualifications

    When crafting your cover letter and resume, highlight your strongest skills.

    In your cover letter, you can illustrate your unique skill set by including a quick work-related anecdote. On your resume, you can include a list of your strongest skills and detail how each skill applies directly to the position you’re seeking.

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