Keep in mind that there is no centralised, authoritative ranking system of US universities.
If you have any questions about the reputation of a US university, you should, at a minimum, ensure the university is accredited by a regional accreditation body recognised by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or that it is in the US Department of Education's Database of Accredited Programs and Institutions.
If a program or university is "accredited," it means that it has been recognized as meeting acceptable levels of quality. This is a "peer-reviewed" process involving faculty members from many different accredited colleges and universities, as opposed to a centralized government agency. If the school you attend is not properly accredited, you may find that your degree is not recognized in the United States or other countries, or by other universities, professional associations, employers, and government ministries and departments.
Both programs and universities can receive accreditation, so it is possible that a university with no accreditation may offer accredited programs. US accrediting agencies only carry out accrediting activities within the US.
Non-accreditated universities are known colloquially as diploma mills. Diploma mills often have some of the following characteristics:
- the university's name is familiar to that of a more well-known university
- the university receives accreditation by being a member of an accreditation agency or paying a fee
- the university director and other faculty members have the same last name
- the university's faculty members do not have PhDs or other educational credentials
- the school's webpage contains many spelling/grammatical errors
You can view a list of English-language programs (ESL programs) accreditations at:
Finally, the Distance Education Accrediting Commission is one of the main agencies reviewing the quality of distance education institutions.
More thorough information about accreditation is available on the EducationUSA website.