Information for US Students

This page contains information for prospective students from the USA and is based on questions we have received over the years. If you have another question you'd like to see answered on this FAQ, please let us know. (Be sure to also see our standard SAO FAQ as your questions might already be answered there.)

  • Are the SAO degree programs accredited in the USA?
    • SAO is a fully accredited degree program within Swinburne, and Swinburne University is in turn fully accredited by the Australian Government. For more details, see the SAO accreditation page. To our understanding, that puts us on an equal standing with any foreign university, from the US accreditation point of view. However, the US accreditation system is rather complex, as there is no single accrediting body. We believe that the US accreditation system works something like this:
      • there are many universities and colleges running many courses;
      • the universities/colleges are accredited with the government and the courses are accredited with the university/college;
      • there are also many accreditation agencies -- these are generally private companies;
      • there is no national accreditation agency that accredits all the universities and colleges;
      • there are national accrediting bodies, but not all accrediting agencies belong to them;
      • the universities/colleges do not recognise all of the accreditation agencies (you can probably see the looming problem...!)

      The easiest thing for SAO to do would be to get ourselves accredited with one of these agencies, then all prospective students could be given a letter of accreditation by this agency. But the problem is that not all universities/colleges in the US accept all accreditation agencies, so we might need to get this done many times! Therefore we have to leave it to prospective students to seek accreditation by their local accrediting bodies. For more information, see the American Council on Education (ACE) and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) websites.

      We can confirm that SAO students have successfully had their SAO degrees accredited in California by the Educational Records Evaluation Service (ERES), in Kentucky by the Kentucky Department of Education, and in Iowa by the Iowa Department of Education.

  • Can I take SAO units to count towards my astronomy classes for continuing education credits?
    • That depends on the Dean of your college. SAO allows students to enrol in single units on an 'individual unit enrolment' basis (i.e. so you don't have to enrol in one of our degree programs). Whether your college then allows this unit to be counted towards your continuing education credits depends on approval from your Dean.

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