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Accreditation is a process of validation in which colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher learning are evaluated. The standards for accreditation are set by a peer review board whose members include faculty from various accredited colleges and universities. The board aids in the evaluation of each potential new school accreditation or the renewals of previously accredited colleges/schools.
In order for potential colleges to proceed with the accreditation process smoothly, they must meet the general standards set by the peer review accreditation boards. Each college is typically assessed using the following criteria:
Overall Mission of the College
Objectives and Goals
Student Requirements for Admissions
Services Available to Students
Quality of Education
Reputation of Faculty
Why is accreditation important?
An important factor in realizing a successful career is choosing a reputable college. Colleges that have been through the accreditation process are more likely to offer degrees that employers and recruiters recognize. Companies want to know that you have quality education and that you will have something to bring to the table when you join their team. For this purpose, accreditation enables companies to filter those individuals who have obtained a degree from an accredited institution from those who have not. The accreditation process also offers students a better chance of having their credits transferred to other reputable institutions should they decide to obtain a graduate or doctoral level education.
Do all schools need accreditation?
Not all schools need accreditation. Some schools offer specialty training programs in technical and art fields that don’t fall under the traditional process of accreditation. One way to tell if your school is qualified or not is to do the research and be sure that it is recognized in the community as providing the valuable skills necessary to do the job.
Do online learning institutions offer the same accreditation as “brick and mortar” institutions?
All national and regional agencies of accreditation hold online educational institutions and distance learning programs to the same high standards that are held by the traditional “brick and mortar” institutions.
How do I know if my school has accreditation from a reputable agency?
Whether you are interested in being a student of an online university, traditional “brick and mortar” college, or an online training program, it is important to be directed to a credible source to obtain the right degree. Knowledge of the accreditation process will help you avoid “diploma mills” or other institutions that grant degrees without providing students with a quality education. To avoid these issues, be sure to conduct your due diligence and read up on the body responsible for accreditation at your college/school before you sign up. You can also find a wealth of information on accrediting bodies at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s website, www.chea.org. CHEA is recognized as an advocate and institutional voice for self-regulation of academic quality through accreditation.
In general, universities and colleges are accredited by one of six regional agencies of accreditation. For more information regarding each accreditation body and the regions they govern, click on the links provided below.
Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
New England Association of Schools and Colleges
North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
Northwest Commission of Schools and Colleges
Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools