To put it succinctly, accreditation is a process that evaluates colleges and programs to ensure that they meet specific standards of quality. It is a way to ensure that students are getting the best education possible. When you attend an accredited school or program, you can be sure that the institution has been thoroughly evaluated and meets established quality standards recognized by other institutions and employers across the country.
Why Is Accreditation Important?
There are several reasons why accreditation is crucial, chief among them being:
- Accreditation signifies that the school or program meets specific quality standards. This means you can be confident that you are getting a good education at an accredited institution.
- Accreditation can make it simpler and easier to transfer credits between schools. It can also help you qualify for financial aid and scholarships.
- Accreditation is required for some types of professional certification.
To know about accreditation in detail, read the Accreditation Guide.
What are the Different Types of Accreditation?
There are two types of accreditation: institutional and programmatic. Institutional accreditation is granted to colleges and universities. In contrast, programmatic accreditation is granted to specific programs within a college or university.
Institutional accreditation may be national or regional, with the latter being most popular and common for colleges offering master’s degree programs. The six regional accrediting bodies in the United States are:
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
The second sort of accreditation is national, which is found chiefly at vocational institutions. Such colleges may also be less expensive and have fewer entrance requirements than regionally approved schools. Here are six main national accrediting bodies in the United States:
- Distance Educating Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
- Council on Occupational Education (COE)
- Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
- Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET)
- Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
- Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)
Programmatic accreditation applies to a specific master’s program, not the college offering it. This type of accreditation is subject or industry-specific. For example, business programs such as a Master’s in Business Administration may be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) or the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Similarly, psychology programs may be accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA), and so on.