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Steps of the Accreditation Process

Steps of the Accreditation Process

As the U.S. Department of Education notes, accreditation is sought out in different ways based on the specific institution and program in question. While some institutions and programs are accredited regionally, others are offered accreditation by a national accrediting agency. Still, others are accredited by specialized accrediting agencies that focus on specific disciplines or types of educational programs.  The following list discusses the general steps of the accreditation process:

Preparation and Self-Examination

The college, university or other institution seeking accreditation status prepares materials that effectively display the institution's accomplishments. The institution often creates a written report of its accomplishments, making sure to highlight specific achievements that help it meet the standards of the accrediting agency.

  1. Peer Review
    Once formal paperwork has been submitted, administrative and faculty peers conduct an intensive review of the prepared materials, the written report and the general workings of the college, university or institution seeking accreditation status.
     
  2. Visit and Examination
    Once the peer review has been completed, most accreditation organizations also send a team of professionals to visit the college, university or institution seeking accreditation status. This team is often made up of peers and members of the public who volunteer their time to ensure high quality education standards are being met.
     
  3. A Decision is Reached
    After the previous steps are completed, the accreditation organization calls upon their commission to review the collected information and affirm or deny accreditation status for the college, university or institution under scrutiny.
     
  4. Continuous Review
    By accepting accreditation status from a recognized accreditation organization, a college, university or other institution agrees to uphold the quality standards set by the accreditation organization. The accredited college, university or institution also agrees to periodically submit to an accreditation renewal review. Because of this set-up, accreditation is often an ongoing process, and schools must continually prove that they are meeting high quality educational standards year after year.

Sources

Accreditation in the United States, U.S. Department of Education, http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg5.html#NationallyRecognized

Self-Examination/Self-study
Peer Review Examination
Visit and Examination
Decision:  Affirm or Deny Accreditation Status
Continuous Review

Sources
Accreditation in the United States, U.S. Department of Education, http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg5.html#NationallyRecognized