Accreditation is a status granted to an institution that meets or exceeds the stated criteria of educational quality. The purposes of accreditation are to assess and enhance the educational quality of an institution, to assure consistency in institutional operations, to promote institutional improvement, and to provide for public accountability.
Accreditation functions to:
- Evaluate whether an institution meets or exceeds minimum standards of quality.
- Assist students in determining acceptable institutions for enrollment.
- Assist institutions in determining acceptability of transfer credits.
- Assist employers in determining validity of programs of study and the acceptability of graduate
- Assist employers in determining eligibility for employee tuition reimbursement programs.
- Enable graduates to sit for certification examinations.
- Involve staff, faculty, students, graduates, and advisory boards in institutional evaluation and planning.
- Create goals for institutional self-improvement.
- Provide a self-regulatory alternative for state oversight functions.
- Provide a basis for determining eligibility for federal student assistance.
Accreditation is a deliberate and thorough process and is entered into voluntarily for purposes of quality assurance and institutional enhancement.
Learn about the different types of accreditors.
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).
State licensing agencies, higher education commissions, and other bureaus for private postsecondary education grant institutions 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.
The U.S. Department of Education determines institutional eligibilty to participate in federal financial aid offered to students. The Department relies on the accreditation status of the institutional eligibility.
Accrediting agencies assure that institutions meet quality standards in educational practices and processes. ACICS assures educational quality and depends upon the state and the U.S. Department of Education to fulfill their oversight responsibilities.
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.