How to Determine a School’s Legitimacy

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How to Determine a School's Legitimacy

There are many unauthorized schools and programs in operation! This article teaches prospective students how to determine a school’s legitimacy. 

How to Determine a School’s Legitimacy

First, it’s important to know the difference between accreditation and authorization.

Authorization by state higher education boards is mandatory, by law, for non-exempt institutions to operate. Academy of Make Up Arts was first officially authorized by the TN Higher Education Commission on November 10, 2011. This authorization must be renewed each year and is based on an evaluation, conducted by the Division of Postsecondary State Authorization, of minimum standards concerning quality of education, ethical business practices, health, safety, and fiscal responsibility.

Accreditation, however, is a non-governmental, peer evaluation of educational institutions and programs. Additionally, accreditation is voluntary and is not required by State law. Only institutions accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education are eligible to participate in Title IV programs. AMUA is a candidate for accreditation with National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences (NACCAS), and isn’t currently participating in Title IV programs.

How can you tell if a school is authorized or accredited?


Schools have to tell you when they are authorized or accredited, and if they don’t post it then they probably aren’t. State agencies require schools to post on their websites, in their catalogs, and on any print materials when they are authorized. Also, some authorized schools operate unauthorized programs. This means they got approval for at least one program, but could be operating additional programs under the radar. They could disappear and your hard-earned certificate would be worthless. It’s important to do your research. You can search for authorized Tennessee schools here.

Similarly, accrediting agencies require schools to post their accreditation status if they’re accredited. WHEW! Say that 3x fast! So if it’s not posted on their website or literature, they’re no accredited. It’s that simple.

You can search for NACCAS accredited schools here.

You can also search a state’s website to see whether a school is approved or not. Beware, there are many schools and programs operating without any kind of authorization.

Now that you know the difference between authorization and accreditation, you’ll be able to make the best decision in your school selection. Good luck in your school search!

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