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General Information                                                  ACCREDITATION

                     Accreditation is the primary means of assuring and improving the quality of higher education institutions and programs in the
                     United States. It is a process of external quality review used by higher education to scrutinize colleges, universities and higher
                     education programs for quality assurance and quality improvement. Accreditation in the United States is more than 100 years old,
                     emerging from concerns to protect public health and safety and to serve the public interest. In the U.S., accreditation is carried
                     out by private, nonprofit organizations designed for this specific purpose. External quality review of higher education is a non-
                     governmental enterprise.

                     There are three types of accreditors:
                     •  Regional accreditors:  Accredit public and private, nonprofit and for-profit, two- and four-year institutions. This is a comprehen-

                       sive review of all institutional functions.
                     •  National accreditors:  Accredit public and private, nonprofit and for-profit institutions, frequently single-purpose institutions,

                       including distance learning colleges and universities, private career institutions and faith-based colleges and universities.
                     •  Specialized and professional accreditors:  Accredit specific programs or schools including law schools, medical schools, engi-

                       neering schools and programs, and health profession programs.

                     The Purposes of Accreditation
                     Accreditation serves the following purposes:
                     •  Assuring quality. Accreditation is the primary means by which colleges, universities and programs assure quality to students

                       and the public. Accredited status is a signal to students and the public that an institution or program meets at least minimal
                       standards for its faculty, curriculum, student services and libraries. Accredited status is conveyed only if institutions and pro-
                       grams provide evidence of fiscal stability.
                     •  Access to federal funds. Accreditation is required for access to federal funds such as student aid and other federal programs.
                       The federal government and accreditors sustain a cooperative relationship whereby government relies on accreditors to confirm
                       the quality of institutions and programs in which students enroll using federal student aid funds. Federal student aid funds are
                       available to students only if the institution they are attending is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization.
                     •  Easing transfer. Accreditation is important to students for a smooth transfer of courses and programs among colleges, universi-
                       ties and programs. Receiving institutions take note of whether or not the credits a student wishes to transfer have been earned
                       at an accredited institution. Although accreditation is but one among several factors taken into account by receiving institutions,
                       it is viewed carefully and is considered an important indicator of quality.
                     •  Engendering employer confidence. Accreditation status of an institution or program is important to employers when evaluating
                       credentials of job applicants and when deciding whether to provide tuition support for current employees seeking additional edu-
                       cation.

                     Recognized Accrediting Organizations
                     This chart lists regional, national faith-related, national career-related and programmatic accreditors that are or have been
                     recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) or both.
                     Organizations identified by (•) are recognized; (–) indicates those not currently recognized. A (*) identifies accrediting organiza-
                     tions that were formerly recognized.

                     CHEA-recognized organizations must meet CHEA eligibility standards (www.chea.org). Accreditors exercise independent judg-
                     ment about whether to seek CHEA recognition. For USDE recognition, accreditation from the organization is used by an institution
                     or program to establish eligibility to participate in federal student aid or other federal programs (www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/
                     index.html). Some accreditors cannot be considered for USDE recognition because they do not provide access to federal funds.
                     Other accreditors have chosen not to pursue USDE recognition.

                     Because CHEA affiliation and USDE recognition depend on a range of factors, readers are strongly cautioned against making

                     judgments about the quality of an accrediting organization and its institutions and programs based solely on CHEA or USDE

                     status. Additional inquiry is essential. If you have questions about the CHEA or USDE recognition status of an accreditor, please

                     contact the accrediting organization. Please visit the CHEA Website at: www.chea.org

                     	 CHEA	USDE

                     	 Recognized	Recognized

                     ACCREDITOR	                                                                                     Organization	Organization

                     REGIONAL ACCREDITING ORGANIZATIONS                                                              •	 •
                     Accrediting Commission for Community & Junior Colleges WASC	

                     Higher Learning Commission	                                                                     •	 •	

                     Middle States Commission on Higher Education 	                                                  •	 •

                     New England Association of Schools & Colleges Commission on Institutions of Higher Education 	  •	 •

                     Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities 	                                             *	 •

                     Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges 	                           •	 •

                     WASC Senior College & University Commission 	                                                   •	 •

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