The Role of Accrediting Agencies

Accreditation is a deliberate and thorough process and is entered into voluntarily for purposes of quality assurance and institutional enhancement. Accrediting agencies assess compliance with published administrative and academic standards and seek a continuous striving for excellence on the part of the institutions they accredit. As such the accrediting agencies serve students, society, higher education, as well as their accredited institutions and entities by striving to ensure academic excellence and ethical standards.  

Accreditation Services
Providing appropriate accrediting criteria and enhancement services to its membership, promoting quality standards, and promoting ethical business practices are key accreditation services provided by ACICS.

Responsibilities for Institutional Effectiveness
Within the higher education community, accrediting agencies, state regulatory agencies, and the U.S. Department of Education are all involved in institutional oversight. Accrediting agencies are responsible for determining educational quality. State regulatory agencies are responsible for granting the legal authority for institutions to operate in their states and for consumer protection matters. The U.S. Department of Education is responsible for determining the eligibility of institutions to participate in federal assistance programs and for enforcement of the regulations governing the administration of federal student assistance programs. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education, using Congressionally-mandated criteria, recognizes accrediting agencies to ensure that these agencies are, for the purposes of the Higher Education Act, “reliable authorities regarding the quality of education or training offered by the institutions or programs they accredit.”  

Types of Accreditation
Accreditation is either institutional or programmatic in nature, and it is intended to assess and enhance the educational quality of either an entire institution or a specific program of study within an institution. Programmatic accreditation is an assessment of a particular program of study such as law, music, or library science offered at an institution. Institutional accreditation means the entire institution has been assessed, from the governance and financial stability to the programs of study and student services of that institution.