Enhancing quality in higher education through specialized and professional accreditation

What is Accreditation

Accreditation is the public recognition awarded to colleges, universities and programs that meet established educational standards.  Accreditation assures that teaching, student achievement, curricula, academic support and other criteria meet certain levels of excellence and quality.

Why is accreditation important?

There are two major reasons that students should determine the accreditation status for the program of study they are considering:

  • quality education - accreditation agencies review and evaluate an institution or program, and provide a "a stamp of approval" that standards of quality are being met; and

  • getting a job -  for professions that require licensure or cerification, it can be necessary to pass an exam in order to get a license to practice.  States may require that students complete an accredited program in order to sit the exam. Employers often prefer that students have graduated from an accredited as opposed to non-accredited program.

The type of accreditation is important!

There are different types of accreditation that can impact students' decisions about where to study:

  • institutional accreditation - refers to the status given to the entire school or university.  While an institution may be accredited, a particular program offered by that institution may not be.

  • specialized or professional accreditation - refers to the status of a program offered within a university. Specialized accrediting bodies focus on measures of student learning or competence that are fundamental to the discipline or profession. If the profession requires completion of an accredited program, students should go directly to the accrediting organization’s website to verify that the program they are considering is listed as being accredited.

Questions students should ask the institution or program

  1. Is the school/ institution/ program accredited? If so, by which agency (ies)?
  2. If it does not have accreditation, will I be able to work in my chosen profession in this state or any other after I graduate?
  3. Does completion of the program allow me to sit for a required exam or get certified in my chosen field?
  4. How important is accreditation to the employers in my chosen field?

    5.  Does the program's accreditation make me eligible for federal student aid?

See video

For Student Advisors

Tips for Explaining Accreditation to Students.pdf

Briefing Papers on Accreditation

Standards, Outcomes and Quality

Basic Elements of Accreditation Explained

Peer Review

A comparison of Accreditation

The Triad

Foundational Principles in Federal Law on Accreditation and Higher Education