Is Capella University Accredited?

Learn about Capella's accreditation status and the difference between national and regional accreditation.
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Bennett Leckrone
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Bennett Leckrone is a news writer for BestColleges. Before joining BestColleges, Leckrone reported on state politics with the nonprofit news outlet Maryland Matters as a Report for America fellow. He previously interned for The Chronicle of Higher Ed...
Updated on January 26, 2024
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Editor & Writer

Lorraine Edwards is an editor for BestColleges who focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion. She is passionate about equipping students with the tools to succeed and have meaningful, equitable educational experiences. Lorraine has a bachelor's deg...
Learn more about our editorial process is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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You’ve probably heard that accreditation matters, but maybe you’re not sure why.

Attending an accredited online university ensures the school or program has met the rigorous standards to provide a quality education to students.

If you attend a school that isn’t accredited, not only may you not receive a quality education, but your degree may not hold much value to employers.

So, ensure you attend an accredited online university. Below, we’ll discuss whether Capella University is accredited.

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Overview of Capella University

Originally established as The Graduate School of America, Capella University changed its name in 1999, according to the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The school is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and earned regional accreditation in 1997.

A for-profit online university, Capella promises flexibility and aims to drive professional growth within its students. The school offers two online learning formats that fit into students’ lives. In GuidedPath, students follow the university’s schedule; FlexPath students learn at their own pace.

Capella University has 47 degree programs and over 1,670 online courses, according to the school’s fact sheet published May 2023. The school has a total enrollment of nearly 42,000 learners across four schools:

  • Social and Behavioral Science
  • Public Service and Education
  • Nursing and Health Sciences
  • Business, Technology, and Health Care Administration

Accreditation Status

According to the school's website, Capella University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Regional accreditation is the most prestigious accreditation.

Capella has earned specialized and program-specific accreditations as well. The university is registered as a private institution with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, according to the Capella website.

Capella University is also an approved institutional participant in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). This means that Capella University is allowed to operate in all SARA-member states.

Understanding Accreditation

The type of accreditation your school has earned influences your tuition rates, how many credits you can transfer between schools, and even how easily you can find employment. Schools with regional accreditation have higher standards than those with national accreditation.

Regional Accreditation

  • These schools are the most selective, as regional accreditation is the most rigorous, prestigious type of accreditation.
  • Students typically pay more in tuition at these schools.
  • These schools may not accept credits from nationally accredited schools.

National Accreditation

  • These schools may have more relaxed admission standards, as this type of accreditation is typically for vocational and technical schools.
  • Students typically pay less in tuition at these schools.
  • These schools tend to accept credits from regionally and nationally accredited schools.

Accreditation Process and Standards

Accreditation is a voluntary process. While the U.S. Department of Education does not provide accreditation, this government body oversees the accreditation process to ensure colleges, universities, and degree programs meet universal quality standards.

The online accreditation process is based on a peer review system. According to the HLC, around 2,000 college and university educators serve as peer reviewers, evaluating the accreditation process for colleges and universities.

To earn accreditation, Capella University had to meet certain key standards and criteria that include engaging in continuous improvement. This process is a rigorous evaluation. Capella University earned regional accreditation from the HLC by meeting certain criteria that include:

  • Mission and ethics
  • Student learning and support services
  • Continuous improvement

Capella University also holds specialized programmatic accreditation in business, nursing, counseling, and IT. It also has MBA accreditation. The school’s accreditations provide students with the knowledge that the school upholds high standards for educational excellence.

Common Misconceptions About Capella University

Below are a few misconceptions about Capella University. The following responses offer a different perspective, debunking false information and misunderstandings related to Capella University's accreditation.

Misconception: Capella University is not accredited.

Explanation: Although Capella University is a for-profit institution, it holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. A respected accrediting agency, the Higher Learning Commission provides a rigorous evaluation process that ensures students receive quality education. Students should always verify accreditation. Capella has earned this recognition.

Misconception: Capella University is expensive.

Explanation: With tuition rates between $350 and $415 per credit for undergraduates and between $450 and $830 per credit for graduate students, Capella University’s costs are on par with many online institutions. Capella also offers resources for students. The school helps them create funding plans, consults on funding options, and provides tips on how they can pay for their tuition before they enroll.

Misconception: Capella University's online and for-profit status means its degrees are worthless in the job market.

Explanation: There’s a common misconception that all for-profit schools like Capella University are diploma mills. Many people think a degree from Capella holds no value to employers. But as long as the school is accredited, the degree will have value in an employer’s eyes. Accreditation means a school has met all the rigorous standards to provide a quality education. Capella's mission is to drive professional growth within its students through exceptional learning outcomes.

BestColleges' Accreditation Check: Capella University

Although Capella University is a for-profit institution, it has met the requirements for regional accreditation. Regional accreditation is the most rigorous, prestigious type of accreditation that extends to online schools like Capella.

Whether you pursue a for-profit, private, or public college, check the accreditation status of the schools that interest you. Accreditation guarantees that the school meets rigorous standards and provides a quality education that will help you access more opportunities. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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