What is Accreditation?
Accreditation is a system for recognizing sponsoring institutions and educational programs for a level of performance, integrity, and quality that entitles them to the confidence of the educational community and the public they serve. In the United States, this recognition is extended primarily through non-governmental accreditation organizations. Accreditation performs many important functions, including encouragement of optimal institutional/program effectiveness and innovation in education. The accreditation process requires institutions and programs to examine their goals, activities, and achievements; to maintain compliance with the Standards and Guidelines of an accredited program, and to determine internal procedures for action on recommendations from the accreditation agency. Accreditation of educational programs is considered in state statutory and regulatory determinations, as a baseline for entry-level employment, in funding opportunities for student loans, as an eligibility requirement for certification examinations, and by potential students and the healthcare consumer.
Types of Accreditation
Institutional accreditation is granted by regional and national accrediting commissions to schools and colleges. These commissions and associations accredit the educational institution as a whole, not specific educational programs within the institution.
Specialized accreditation of educational programs is granted by national programmatic accreditation organizations. Each accreditation organization has distinctive criteria for accreditation that have been developed to provide quality assurances concerning the educational preparation of program graduates.