About Accreditation

Accreditation is a voluntary activity initiated by the institution that requires a rigorous self-evaluation and an independent, objective appraisal of the overall educational quality by peers. Accreditation emphasizes quality assurance and a commitment to continuous quality enhancement. To achieve accreditation by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), an institution must: 
      • Comply with rigorous standards; 
      • Develop and implement an Institutional Effectiveness Plan; 
      • Undergo an annual review of its financial stability, retention and placement rates; and 
      • Undergo announced and unannounced site visits.

If judged to be in compliance with established standards, an accreditation status may be granted for a specific period, ranging from three to six years.

Accrediting Agencies
Accrediting agencies assure that institutions meet quality standards in educational practices and processes. Read more...

The Scope of ACICS Accreditation
The Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) is a national accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Read more...

State Authority to Operate
State licensing agencies, higher education commissions, and other bureaus for private postsecondary education grant institutions the authority to operate in their states.  ACICS cooperates with the states by considering for accreditation only those institutions which are licensed by the states.  ACICS also keeps the states informed of accreditation activities affecting the institutions in their states. 

Federal Eligibility for Student Financial Aid
The US Department of Education determines institutional eligibility to participate in federal financial aid offered to students and enforces regulations governing the adherence to federal student financial aid programs. The Department relies on the accreditation of the institutions to determine institutional eligibility.

To view the minimum eligibility requirements, visit the Department's website on Federal Student Aid.

Information About Diploma Mills and Accreditation Mills
While there are numerous types of schools and educational organizations, without recognition from the United States Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the claims made by some organizations hold no value. Read more...

History of Accreditation
The process of accreditation gradually evolved along three parallel paths, commonly referred to as the Triad, forged by the development of peer-evaluation amongst institutions and accrediting agencies, and the development of regulation, legislation and oversight by state governments, and the federal government. Read more...

Other Resources
Learn more about accreditation and higher education...