I’ve concluded that few understand the meaning or importance of accreditation, but they are happier if they receive an affirmative response. Car buyers will ask about the engine size or the miles per gallon rating of the car they are looking at, but have little means of objectively quantifying the importance of the answer.
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.
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
There are many different accreditation boards for colleges. Secular and government-run institutions of higher learning (United States) typically fall under the following structure (per Wikipedia):
There are various regional accreditors involved in higher education accreditation in the United States.
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- (NEASC-CIHE) Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
- (NEASC-CTCI) Commission on Technical and Career Institutions
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC) (formerly, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA))
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges
- (WASC-ACCJC) Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
- (WASC-ACSCU) Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities
Non-government regulated schools, colleges and theological seminaries are under a different accreditation structure. Accreditors include:
Is accreditation important? You have to know what accreditation means and if it is important for your field of study? Will it be important for your planned employment/career path? Basically, it means that the institution has maintained a minimum standard of quality for it’s students, as determined by the particular accreditation board.