Accredited Courses Explained 

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What Is an Accredited Course?

In the UK, an accredited course means that a professional body or organisation has assessed and approved the learning outcomes and objectives of a course. In effect, it is a stamp of approval and recognition that the course is valuable.

Professional Bodies recognise and accredit a wide range of courses and levels.

  • Short Courses
  • Professional Qualifications
  • Accredited Degrees
  • Postgraduate Courses


CPD Accredited vs. Professional Body Accredited Courses

CPD, Continual Professional development, is the ongoing professional development required by certain professions to practice. CPD can cover a broader range of activities such as Workshops & seminars or conferences & events in addition to structured course learning.

CPD accreditation is slightly different to accreditation by a professional body. CPD-accredited courses are accredited by the continual professional accreditation service, an organisation designed especially to accredit training and professional development across multiple sectors.

Professional Body Accreditation tends to be for education and training with structured learning and is focused on a subject directly related to the profession it represents. For some roles, taking a professional body-accredited degree or Master’s is a requirement to practice. For example, taking a BPS-accredited degree and becoming a clinical psychologist is an example of where professional body accreditation is required to practice.

Benefits of Course Accreditation for Students and Education Providers

Benefits For Learners:

  • Clear that the course meets current industry standards/ best practice
  • Confidence in course materials and learning outcomes
  • Adds value to a CV and benefits career progress
  • Aids professional body membership


Benefits For Education Provides:

  • Validates the course content and education
  • External stamp of quality
  • Shows industry and career value to prospective students


How Does a Course Get Accredited?

An education provider works with a professional body or accreditation service to review and assess the course against specific benchmarks and quality requirements. It involves thoroughly reviewing the learning materials, outcomes, assessments, overall content and course quality.

The process can take several iterations when additional learning needs to be added to a course to meet the criteria. Once the accreditation has been given, the course and content are reviewed on a set timetable on an ongoing basis by the professional body to ensure the content is updated to meet the latest industry best practices to maintain the accreditation.

When Is It Important That a Course Is Accredited?

Taking a course that a professional body has accredited can help your CV stand out, for example, holding a CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) accredited master’s degree in marketing. The CIM accreditation can increase an individual’s professional competitiveness and worth. However, it is not a must to hold a CIM qualification to work in marketing, unlike some professions.

In regulated professionals, having specific qualifications accredited by the professional bodies overseeing standards is a must to practice. An example would be holding a BPS (The British Psychological Society) accredited degree or a conversion master’s to become a chartered psychologist.

Professional Licensing: Many professions in the UK require individuals to hold accredited qualifications to obtain a license to practice. For example, doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, and accountants typically need accredited degrees or professional qualifications accredited by a chartered professional body. 

Government Regulations: In certain roles, government regulations mandate that employees have accredited qualifications to ensure safety and compliance. For example, in the construction industry, workers may need CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) cards that require taking accredited training courses. 

The Difference Between Accredited and Regulated Courses

This can cause some confusion, especially for international students, as the US and UK use the term accredited differently.

In the UK, regulated qualifications are overseen by the government and include formal qualifications from school to university, such as GCSEs and A-levels to undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. 

In the US, degrees are accredited in a peer-reviewed process. Universities as a group accredit universities and degrees to show they meet set standards. In the UK, the university is given degree-awarding power and accredited means a course has an additional professional accreditation attached to the degree.

In the UK education system, accredited has a specific meaning when used to describe a course. It means the learning that has been validated by an independent third party, typically a professional body.

How to Check If a Qualification Is Accredited?

Most professional Bodies have an area on their website where they maintain a list of courses they accredited. If you are unsure, contact the professional body directly and ask them about the course and institution you are interested in studying with.

Accreditation FAQ

In a way, yes, in the UK, the government awards universities with degree-awarding powers. This is a slightly different process compared to the US, where the degree is accredited. We keep an up-to-date list of all education providers with degree-awarding powers here.

Not in the same way as US degrees. In the UK, it is the university that is given the “accreditation” to award degrees. Only degrees provided by recognised bodies are valid in the UK.

No, while accreditation has benefits, depending on your goals and reason for study, taking a course accredited by a professional body may not be necessary.

The main reason for taking an accredited course is a must in the UK-

  • Gain professional body membership and licence to practice
  • Show CPD hours for a licence to practice in certain professions.

No, in the UK, accredited means that the course has been assessed and meets the requirements of a professional body.

In the UK, only education providers with degree-awarding powers can award degrees. You can check if your chosen institution has degree-awarding powers here and on the UK Government website.

In the UK, accreditation is awarded by professional bodies. Professional bodies can accredit undergraduate degrees and postgraduate qualifications, short courses, and professional training.

No, in the UK, accreditation is separate from the actual qualification. For example, both the courses below are qualifications, but the second one has an additional accreditation from the Chartered Management Institute, a professional body.

BA (Hons) International Business

BA (Hons) Business (CMI Accredited)

Not necessarily. It depends on your goals and professional plans. For some careers, it is essential to take an accredited course, while for others, it is not a requirement but a nice to have. 

For example,

If you want to become a clinical psychologist in the UK, the standard route is to take a BPS-accredited undergraduate degree or Master’s. 

However, if you want to develop a career in management, taking a management degree accredited by the CMI can help your CV stand out, but it is not an industry requirement for a professional role.

In the UK, accreditation is an additional stamp of approval given by a professional body to a course or training programme.

In the UK, accredited qualification means that a professional body has assessed and approved the course’s learning outcomes.

Certified qualification means that the certificate and transcripts have been assessed to be genuine and at the current level. For UK qualifications, The British Council offer this service.

Find regulated, accredited 100% Online programmes. 

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