Understanding Accreditation for Fitness Degrees at Universities Online
When searching for universities online for the best fitness degree program for your needs, accreditation should be a major factor to consider. Accreditation shows the school maintains academic standards that ensure you receive the quality education necessary to move into your chosen field after graduation. It also makes degrees earned from the institution legitimate in the eyes of future employers. However, not all accreditation is created equal when it comes to online learning. It is important to know which accrediting agencies are respected most within the fitness industry.
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) is the gold standard for fitness and health degrees of all kinds. This accrediting agency is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and currently accredits more than 2,100 entry level education programs in 23 health science areas of study. The organization was formed in 1995 and is comprised of both an accrediting commission and a Board of Directors for an effective system of checks and balances within the agency.
The American Council on Exercise offers a Group Fitness Instructor Curriculum that institutions can use for their exercise science or recreation programs. The program allows students to graduate with both a degree and NCCA-accredited fitness certification, which is necessary for employment at many venues. This curriculum is also a feather in the cap for institutions interested in pursuing CAAHEP accreditation, according to the ACE website. The curriculum, which can be offered through brick-and-mortar schools or universities online, prepares students for a variety of jobs in the health and fitness industry.
For aspiring dieticians and nutritionists, accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics is one to look for. Formerly known as the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education, this agency is the accreditation of choice for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It is also recognized by the United States Department of Education as the gatekeeper for Title IV. This agency helps prepare students for careers as registered dietitians and dietetic technicians through universities online or other institutions of higher education.
In addition to accreditation specifically geared to the fitness and nutrition industry, there are other types of general accreditation to look for when considering universities online. Some of these most widely recognized accreditation organizations include:
· New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
· Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
· Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities
· Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
· Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
· North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
These regional accreditation agencies are all listed by the Council for Higher Education, making them legitimate accreditation sources. Some schools might claim accreditation by an organization not on the list, so it is prudent to research the accreditation agency before choosing a college to ensure it is legitimate and respected. The right accreditation makes all the difference in earning a fitness degree that is accepted, and even preferred, by employers in the industry.