Accreditation Process

accreditation

Accreditation is a voluntary, nongovernmental process that includes a rigorous external review of a college or university’s ability to provide the highest quality programs. The accreditation process is a comprehensive review of a school’s mission, faculty qualifications, and curricula, and the process includes self-evaluations, peer-reviews, committee reviews, and the development of in-depth strategic plans. Accreditation ensures that students are learning material most relevant to their field of study, preparing them to be effective leaders upon graduation.

The purpose of accreditation is to create a set of standards for all institutions of higher education to be held to while also encouraging colleges and universities  to be the best they can be. Consequently,  accreditation aims to ensure accountability of higher education institutions and degree programs in order to build public trust and confidence. When an institution or degree program is properly accredited, students are able to gauge the institution’s overall quality without conducting a detailed analysis on their own.

Accreditation ProcesS Steps

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

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

Documentation

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