USA Accreditation

Education Quality Accreditation Commission





Most American students believe that if a college is not accredited by an approved private agency of the US Department of Education, regardless of where it is located in the world, it will not be recognized as credible or meeting minimum education quality standards. This is not correct. Read more...


In the United States of America, higher education institutions may comply with this voluntary quality assurance process reviewed by accreditation agencies. Some of these agencies are overseen by the U.S. Department of Education, and others act as independent bodies. Read more…


USA Accreditation is a complicated subject.



Accreditation in the U.S.


The United States has no Federal Ministry of Education or other centralized authority exercising single national control over postsecondary educational institutions. Each State assume varying degrees of control over education, but, in general, institutions of higher education are permitted to operate with considerable independence and autonomy. As a consequence, American educational institutions can vary widely in the character and quality of their programs. Read more...


In order to ensure a basic level of quality, the practice of accreditation arose in the United States as a means of conducting non-governmental, peer evaluation of educational institutions and programs. Private educational associations of professional, institutional, regional or national scope adopted criteria reflecting the qualities of a sound educational program and have developed procedures for evaluating institutions or programs to determine whether or not they are operating at certain levels of quality


Some Functions of Accreditation:

  1.  Verifying that an institution or program meets established standards; 
  2. Assisting prospective students in identifying acceptable institutions; 
  3. Assisting institutions in determining the acceptability of transfer credits; 
  4. Helping to identify institutions and programs for the investment of public and private funds; 
  5. Protecting an institution against harmful internal and external pressure; 
  6. Creating goals for self-improvement of weaker programs and stimulating a general raising of standards among educational institutions; 
  7. Involving the faculty and staff comprehensively in institutional evaluation and planning; 
  8. Establishing criteria for professional certification and licensure and for upgrading courses offering such preparation; and 
  9. Providing one of several considerations used as a basis for determining eligibility for Federal assistance. 


The Accrediting Procedure

  1. Standards: The accrediting agency, in collaboration with educational institutions, establishes standards. 
  2. Self-study: The institution or program seeking accreditation prepares an in-depth self-evaluation study that measures its performance against the standards established by the accrediting agency. 
  3. On-site Evaluation: A team selected by the accrediting agency visits the institution or program to determine first-hand if the applicant meets the established standards. 
  4. Publication: Upon being satisfied that the applicant meets its standards, the accrediting agency grants accreditation or pre-accreditation status and lists the institution or program in an official publication with other similarly accredited or pre-accredited institutions or programs. 
  5. Monitoring: The accrediting agency monitors each accredited institution or program throughout the period of accreditation granted to verify that it continues to meet the agency's standards. 
  6. Reevaluation: The accrediting agency periodically reevaluates each institution or program that it lists to ascertain whether continuation of its accredited or preaccredited status is warranted. 


Types of Accreditation 

There are two basic types of educational accreditation, one identified as "institutional" and one referred to as "specialized" or "programmatic." 


Institutional accreditation normally applies to an entire institution, indicating how each part of an institution is contributing to the achievement of academic, administrative and institutional quality. The Education Quality Accreditation Commission standards are designed to assess Institutional accreditation. Read more…


Specialized or programmatic accreditation normally applies to specific programs, departments, or schools that are parts of an institution. The accredited unit may be as large as a college or school within a university, or as small as a curriculum within a discipline. Certain accrediting agencies also accredit professional schools and other specialized or vocational institutions of higher education that are free-standing in their operations. Thus, a "specialized " or "programmatic " accrediting agency may also function in the capacity of an "institutional" accrediting agency. In addition, a number of specialized accrediting agencies accredit educational programs within non-educational settings, such as hospitals.


Accreditation does not provide automatic acceptance by an institution of credit earned at another institution, nor does it give assurance of acceptance of graduates by employers. Acceptance of students or graduates is always the prerogative of the receiving institution or employer. For these reasons, besides ascertaining the accredited status of a school or program, students should take additional measures to determine, prior to enrollment, whether or not their educational goals will be met through attendance at a particular institution. These measures should include inquiries to institutions to which transfer might be desired or to prospective employers and, if possible, personal inspection of the institution at which enrollment is contemplated. 



CHEA - Council on Higher Education Accreditation


CHEA, The Council on Higher Education Accreditation is the non-governmental Coordinating Agency in terms of accreditation.


For more than 50 years, The United States had some type of nongovernmental coordinating agency for accreditation. This body, whatever its form, has existed primarily for the purpose of coordinating and improving the practice of accreditation. For example, the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation (COPA), which was established in 1974 and existed until December 1993, served as a nongovernmental organization whose purpose was to foster and facilitate the role of accrediting agencies in promoting and ensuring the quality and diversity of American postsecondary education. Through its Committee on Recognition, COPA recognized, coordinated, and periodically reviewed the work of its member accrediting agencies and the appropriateness of existing or proposed accrediting agencies and their activities, through its granting of recognition and performance of other related functions. COPA itself was created through the merger of two organizations: the National Commission on Accreditation, founded in 1949 as the first national organization to develop criteria and recognize accrediting agencies; and the Federation of Regional Accrediting Commission of Higher Education. After COPA voted to dissolve in December 1993, a new entity, the Commission on Recognition of Postsecondary Accreditation (CORPA) was established in January 1994 to continue the recognition of accrediting agencies previously carried out by COPA until such time as a new national organization for accreditation could be established. CORPA was dissolved in April 1997 after the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) was created.


CHEA is currently the entity that carries out a recognition function in the private, nongovernmental sector. Read more…



Regional and national accreditation


Prior to 2020, there were regional and national accrediting agencies, both of which were accountable to the Department of Education. Regional bodies historically accredited institutions in a particular region of the country. National bodies were established to accredit institutions across the country, and sometimes beyond it. Within American higher education, regional bodies were considered more prestigious.


In February 2020, the Department of Education eliminated the distinction between regional and national accrediting agencies, creating one unified set of institutional accreditors. The department claimed that the change was intended to encourage cooperation between accredited schools to improve student experiences, uphold quality standards, and reduce the cost of higher education by encouraging transparent transfer of credits and mutual recognition of degrees between schools with common standards. It also claimed that the change was intended to allow students to be able to access the best school for their needs no matter what region they reside in.


Historically, educational accreditation activities in the United States were overseen by seven regional accrediting agencies established in the late 19th and early 20th century to foster articulation between secondary schools and higher education institutions, particularly evaluation of prospective students by colleges and universities. These seven agencies were membership organizations of educational institutions within their geographic regions. Initially, the main focus of the organizations was to accredit secondary schools and to establish uniform college entrance requirements. Accreditation of colleges and universities followed later, with each of the accrediting agencies splitting into separate organizations with one or more of those organizations focused exclusively on accrediting colleges and universities.


Regionally accredited schools were usually academically oriented and most were non-profit. Nationally accredited schools, a large number of which are for-profit, typically offered specific vocational, career, or technical programs.



Key Concepts about USA Accreditation


In order for you to become a smart consumer, you'll need to have a basic understanding of accreditation in the United States and how it works, and the difference between accredited or unaccredited institutions. Read more…


The following concepts may provide some criteria for the evaluation of the education quality offered by an institution of education with an accreditation in the United States of America.


  • The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of education quality.
  • The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is the most important USA advocate and institutional voice for self-regulation of academic quality through accreditation. It is an association of 3,000 degree-granting colleges and universities and recognizes 60 institutional and programmatic accrediting organizations.
  • One of the reasons that institutions seek accreditation in the USA is so that their students are eligible to receive federal student aid or other federal benefits.
  • Accrediting agencies, which are private educational associations, develop evaluation criteria and conduct peer evaluations to assess whether or not those education quality criteria are met. Institutions and/or programs that request an agency's evaluation and that meet an agency's criteria are then "accredited" by that agency.
  • The U.S. Department of Education does not accredit educational institutions and/or programs. However, the Secretary of Education is required by law to publish a list of recognized accrediting agencies whose accreditation enables the institutions they accredit to establish eligibility to participate in the Federal student financial assistance programs administered by the Department under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 as amended.
  • Accrediting activities outside the United States are not within the legal authority of the Department of Education to recognize, are not reviewed by the Department, and the Department does not exercise any oversight over them or the assessment of their education quality.
  • The U.S. Department of Education does not recognize foreign accrediting agencies, however, accrediting agencies that have been recognized by the Secretary of Education may accredit foreign institutions.
  • Private credential evaluation services will evaluate a foreign degree for comparability to a U.S. degree. The U.S. Federal Government does not recommend or endorse any individual credential evaluation service or group of services, and does not conduct evaluations of education quality or accreditation.
  • The accreditors are private, nongovernmental organizations created for the specific purpose of reviewing higher education institutions and programs for quality.
  • Accreditation is one mean and references to assess the quality of an educational institution.
  • Despite the widely recognized benefits and accountability of accreditation, some institutions choose, for various reasons, not to participate in an accreditation process. According to the United States Department of Education, it is possible for postsecondary educational institutions and programs to elect not to seek accreditation but nevertheless provide a quality postsecondary education. Yet, other unaccredited schools simply award degrees and diploma without merit for a price.



The EQAC Accreditation for Colleges & Universities

The Education Quality Accreditation Commission is ready and willing to assist in providing accreditation to any college or university willing to expend the effort to prepare a Self Study Report. Accreditation is a competitive issue among US based colleges and universities to ensure education quality. Once outside the boarders of the USA, American accreditation is taken as no better / no worse than any other accrediting standards for higher education quality. What institutions of higher learning should be considering is not adding more local accreditations in their home nation, but a truly international accreditation standard that may serve in the global market arenaSee more...


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