Accreditation and Accreditors
What is Accreditation?
Accreditation is a formal status granted to an institution meeting or exceeding stated educational quality criteria.
The purposes of accreditation are to assess and enhance the educational quality of an institution, assure consistency in institutional operations, promote institutional improvement and provide for public accountability.
Accreditation in the U.S.
“The United States has no Federal Ministry of Education or other centralized authority exercising single national control over postsecondary educational institutions in this country. The States assume varying degrees of control over education, but, in general, institutions of higher education are permitted to operate with considerable independence and autonomy. As a consequence, American educational institutions can vary widely in the character and quality of their programs.” *
What are Recognized Accrediting Organizations?
"Recognized" accreditors are those organizations that have successfully undergone an external review (or "recognition review") for quality -- based on the standards of one of two entities:
- United States Department of Education - For the purpose of determining their eligibility to participate in federal financial aid programs, The U.S. Secretary of Education authorizes certain accrediting agencies to serve as reliable authorities as to the quality of educational institutions.
- The Council for Higher Education Accreditation -- CHEA is a national, private, nonprofit organization that coordinates accreditation activity in the United States. CHEA is the only non-governmental higher education organization that exists primarily for this purpose. Read more at http://www.chea.org.
Lists of Recognized Accreditors
The US Department of Education’s List :
Council on Higher Education Accreditation's List (available as a PDF file):
The following regional accrediting bodies are recognized by the US Secretary of Education or the Council for Higher Education (CHEA).
- The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA)- Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands
- New England Association of Schools & Colleges, Inc. (NEASC) - Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) - Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Note: Regional accreditation in the north central region is done by two Commissions
- Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (CASI): CASI accredits elementary and secondary schools as well as non-degree-granting postsecondary schools
- The Higher Learning Commission (HLC): HLC accredits degree-granting colleges and universities.
- Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (NASCU) - Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) - Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiano, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) - California, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Commonwealthof the Northern Marianas, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of Palau
- WASC Accrediting Commission for Community & Junior Colleges
- WASC Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges & Universities
About International Accreditation
Institutional and programmatic accreditation is largely an American phenomenon. However, the governments of some nations approve institutions for the delivery of higher learning opportunities and choose not to approve others.
For example, the Ministry of Education for the United Kingdom approves higher education institutions. Such approvals are important to prospective students in the United States since the Internet offers many degree study opportunities that originate from the United Kingdom. Click on the following link to check the approval status of a United Kingdom institution: http://www.scit.wlv.ac.uk/ukinfo/alpha. The same web site also offers an inter-active map of UK academic sites: http://www.scit.wlv.ac.uk/ukinfo/.
- Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) - Database of Institutions and Programs Accredited by Recognized United States Accrediting Organizations.
The CHEA database may be more reliable the ed.gov list. Please note that you must agree to the terms of CHEA’s User Agreement before you can access the data. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page.) http://www.chea.org/search/
- The Council on Higher Education Accreditation See the excellent article Informing the Public About Accreditation. http://www.chea.org/public_info/index.asp
* United States Department of Education - FINANCIAL AID FOR POSTSECONDARY STUDENTS:Accreditation in the United States, Page 2. http://www.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg2.html