Accreditation is the process that a university, school or business goes through to verify competency, credibility and standing in their field of expertise or profession.
Within an academic setting, accreditation means that the future graduates will have met the educational requirements for their field or profession. Both beyond and within an academic setting, accreditation instills comfort and confidence in the consumer, as the accrediting body will help hold the accredited businesses accountable for their actions, or lack of action. It follows that students studying at accredited universities gain confidence in the quality of their education. It also follows that should students need to transfer educational institutions, most of their credits will transfer and they will be properly prepared for the transfer educationally.
More often than not, an educational institution is required to achieve accreditation in order for its students to qualify for federal financial and sometimes state aid. The overarching accrediting body for schools is either the US Department of Education for public institutions, or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) for private institutions. Additional accreditation programs, agencies, and organizations exist for individual programs which ensure students get the best education for their field. To help you understand more about accredited programs and to familiarize yourself with the different accrediting organizations for most major academic programs, check out our Accreditation List:
The American Psychological Association accredits doctoral programs in clinical, counseling and school psychology. The APA can also accredit internship programs at the doctoral level in professional psychology, as well as postdoctoral residency programs that are in traditional and specialty areas of psychology. The APA does not accredit specific institutions overall, or bachelor and master level programs.
The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accredits programs at the bachelor, master’s or doctorate level in business or accounting. The AACSB is the longest standing, most well recognized business accreditation worldwide. Currently, among the more than 13,000 business programs worldwide, less than 5% have earned the AACSB accreditation.
The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology accredits universities and institutions that have programs in applied science, computing, engineering and engineering technology. ABET can accredit a program or an entire institution. Within the ABET there are four divisions that accredit individual programs. The Applied Science Accreditation Commission (ASAC) accredits applied science programs at the associate, bachelor or masters level. The Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC) evaluates and accredits programs at the bachelor level. The Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) accredits bachelor and masters level engineering programs and the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission (ETAC) evaluates and accredits associate and bachelor level programs.
The Accrediting Counsel for Independent Colleges and Schools accredits independent, non-public career schools and colleges in the US and throughout the world. The ACICS accredits schools that offer certificate programs, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The ACICS has strict guidelines regarding enrollment, state certifications and number of graduates that each institution must meet in order to achieve accreditation standards.
The North Central Association accredits post-secondary schools that provide quality education to their students. They accredit schools that are always looking to improve in areas of technology, content and process of education. There are three regional sub divisions of NCA and NCA accredits schools worldwide through their AdvancED program. NCA also has a division that accredits k-12 schools.
The Western Association of Schools and Colleges accredits public, private, religious and independent schools as well as K-12 and adult schools that are non-degree granting schools. WASC accreditation promotes continued improvement in the education process and works with 16 other organizations in the accreditation process.
Better Business Bureau Accreditation
A Better Business Bureau Accreditation means that a business has sound advertising practices, and selling policies and customer service that meets high standards and evoke trust and confidence in the business. Among the eight Standards of Trust are the following guidelines for accreditation: build trust, advertise honestly, tell the truth, be transparent, honor promises, be responsive, safeguard privacy and embody integrity.
The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education accredits bachelors, masters and doctorate level nursing programs. The CCNE is a national accreditation agency, recognized by the US Department of Education. The CCNE accredits institutions that foster an environment that encourages continual self assessment and promotes overall program growth.
The Council on Social Work Education accredits works to identify standards for accreditation of competent social work programs in the university setting. The CSWE works closely with the Office of Social Work Accreditation (OSWA), and the process involves on site visits and self studies.
Accredited Chiropractic Schools
Chiropractic schools receive accreditation from the CCE, Council on Chiropractic Education. The CCE is able to accredit Doctor of Chiropractic programs that are within a larger school or university setting, or will accredit schools that are just Chiropractic schools. There are currently 15 accredited chiropractic schools in 18 locations in the US.
The American Council on Educationis the most influential and well known higher education association in the United States. The ACE represents their members, which can be colleges and universities with two or four year degree programs, as well as graduate level programs. The ACE advocates for their members to congress and the supreme court. The deal with issues such as student financial aid, research funding and tax proposals.
NLN Accredited Schools
The National League for Nursing’s mission is to “promote excellence in nursing education to build a strong and diverse workforce to advance the nation’s health.” The NLN offers the CNE, or Certified Nurse Educators exam that individual nurses in education can take to earn their CNE certification.
The Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities is a non profit dedicated to the health and human services profession. CARF accredits all kinds of rehabilitation facilities, from substance abuse to home and community services and retirement living. A CARF accreditation means that an organization is committed to improving services, encourages client feedback and serves the community.
The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine accredits practices through a voluntary peer review process. The accreditation process allows providers to assess their own strengths and weaknesses and make voluntary changes to improve their practices. The areas of competency demonstrated by the AIUM accredited practices are personnel education, training and experience, record keeping, policies and procedures regarding patient safeguards, personnel and equipment, instrumentation, quality assurance and case studies.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design accreditation means that the specific building or project that earned the certification has met rigorous environmental and sustainability standards. LEED certified projects have earned points for their projects regarding sustainable site practices, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere credits that audit the type of energy and whether is it renewable or low impact, materials and resources being sustainable or renewable, and indoor environmental, which assesses air quality and access to natural light and views.
CAHIIM Accredited Programs
The Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education’s mission is to set accreditation standards for health information and management educational programs. The CAHIIM accredits associate and bachelor programs at universities throughout the US.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools works with universities in the Southern US by promoting educational growth and improvement in their accredited institutions. The states served by the SACS are Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina as well as Latin America. Colleges that offer Associates, Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate degrees are all eligible for accreditation through the SACS.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children focuses on raising the quality of education for children ages birth to eight years of age. The accreditation process recognizes excellent early education programs. NAEYC partners with ECADA, the Early Childhood Associate Degree Accreditation and NCATE, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education to accredit associates and bachelor and graduate programs that train early childhood educators.
The Distance Education and Training Council sets standards for distance learning and correspondence courses. Any institution that has a distance learning option can apply, including high schools, colleges and vocational training institutions. The DETC’s main values are volunteerism, self regulation, institutional self improvement, respect for the uniqueness of institutions, excellence in student services, fairness and transparency in decision making, and responsiveness to the dynamic, global distance education community.
The Association for Biblical Higher Education is the governing body for Bible based higher education. The ABHE is recognized by CHEA as a national accrediting body for all post secondary degrees, including graduate degree programs. The goal of all institutions accredited by ABHE is to prepare students for Christian ministry through Biblical, church vocational and general studies.
Accredited Medical Schools
The Association of American Medical Colleges, AAMC, is responsible for the accreditation of medical schools in the US and Canada. The AAMC represents all 141 accredited medical schools in the US and the 17 that are in Canada in addition to 400 teaching hospitals and health systems. The AAMC also oversees 51 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers. The AAMC does not rank medical schools.
Another accrediting body is the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). Medical students who graduate from a LCME school are able to apply for residency at an ACGME (Accreditation Council Graduate Medical Studies) for residency program and apply to take the US Medical Licensing Exam (USMLC).
Accredited Paralegal Programs
Paralegal programs are accredited through the ABA, the American Bar Association. The ABA sets the standard for required education and ABA accredited schools use the most up to date and relevant curriculum.
The National Association of Legal Assistants does not offer accreditation, but does offer a certification for legal assistants or paralegals, which is a voluntary process.
Accredited Pharmacy Schools
The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) is the national accreditation board for all graduate level pharmacy programs. ACPE also is responsible for many continuing education opportunities for pharmacists and assistants. ACPE works closely with the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), and the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). The NABP is a professional organization that works with the state boards of pharmacy to ensure quality standards and protect public health. The NABP accomplishes their task primarily through competence assessment programs, licensure transfers and various accreditation programs that are available to individual pharmacists.
Nursing School Accreditation
Nursing schools in the US are accredited through either the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN); or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), as described above. ACEN accredits nursing programs that offer postsecondary degrees or higher, and offer a certificate, diploma or advanced degree.
Accredited Business Schools
Business schools are most likely to be accredited through the AACSB, as described above. Currently nearly 700 institutions worldwide have achieved this accreditation. The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) is another accreditation that a business school may obtain. ACBSP accredits accounting, business, and business related programs at an associate, bachelors, masters or doctorate degree level worldwide.
Middle States Accreditation
The Middle States Accreditation accredits individual schools, school districts, and colleges across the world. Accreditation is granted through the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, and the accreditation is based upon peer review that evaluates school effectiveness and improvement.
Accredited Nutrition Programs
Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics which was previously known as the Commission on Accreditation Dietetics Education, is responsible for accrediting education programs that graduate students who desire a profession as a registered dietician (RD), or registered dietetics technicians (DTR). The ACEND assures that the education programs are continually improving and meeting the health needs of the public.
Another accrediting board in the nutrition field is the ACBN American Clinical Board of Nutrition is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). The NCCA offers the status of Diplomate to all professionals in the healthcare field that is beyond the doctorate level both in the United States and Internationally