What is accreditation?
Accreditation is an educational institution’s stamp of approval, designating that it has met standards set to ensure that schools provide a quality education. Accreditation serves an important role in quality control, providing students with the assurance that they will be adequately prepared for either the job force or continued education.
Who grants accreditation?
Accreditation is granted by accrediting agencies, private associations that establish the educational standards for schools and determine how well schools meet those standards.
What are the different types of accreditation?
Educational accreditation typically falls into one of two categories:
- Institutional: Accreditation applies to the entire college or university.
- Specialized or programmatic: Accreditation applies to an individual curriculum, program, department or school within the college or university, or occasionally to a professional college that specializes in a particular field. Specialized accrediting agencies are typically separate from institutional accrediting agencies.
How can you find out if a school is accredited?
There are two major resources to find out if a school is accredited:
- U.S. Department of Education: The USDE lists about 6,900 post-secondary institutions and programs accredited by organizations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
- Council for Higher Education Association: The CHEA lists about 7,600 schools and 18,700 programs accredited by organizations recognized by either the CHEA or the USDE, or both.
How can you find out if a school is accredited by a reputable organization?
Here is a list of all accrediting organizations recognized by CHEA or USDE. However, an accreditor being recognized doesn’t ensure that other schools will accept transfer credits from an institution accredited by that organization. Such is the case with the Distance Education Training Council (DETC), an accreditor that specializes in distance education. While many online schools are accredited by the DETC, and although the DETC is recognized by both the CHEA and the USDE, many colleges and universities don’t accept transfer credits from DETC-accredited schools.
- Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSA): Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other international locations.
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC): Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and many international locations.
- North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA): Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Navajo Nation, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
- Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (NWCCU): Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.
- Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (SACS): Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and several international locations.
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC): California and Hawaii, the territories of Guam, American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, the Pacific Basin and East Asia, plus areas of the Pacific and East Asia.
Students are advised to plan out their educational course of action before enrolling and to check with schools to which they might transfer to determine their credit acceptance policies.