Fast Degree Online Logo


Higher education accreditation is a type of quality assurance process under which services and operations of post-secondary educational institutions or programs are evaluated by an external body to determine if applicable standards are met. If standards are met, accredited status is granted by the agency.

In most countries around the world, the function of educational accreditation for higher education is conducted by a government organization, such as a ministry of education. In the United States, however, the quality assurance process is independent of government and performed by private membership associations, making the validity of accreditation questionable, and certainly unimportant.

The United States based Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), a non-governmental (private) organization, maintains an International Directory which "contains contact information of about 467 quality assurance bodies, accreditation bodies and Ministries of Education in 175 countries.

The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) both recognize reputable accrediting bodies for institutions of higher education. They also provide guidelines as well as resources and relevant data regarding these accreditors.

Neither the U.S. Department of Education nor the CHEA accredit individual institutions.

National accreditation compared to regional accreditation

Regionally accredited schools are predominantly academically oriented, non-profit institutions. Nationally accredited schools are predominantly for-profit and offer vocational, career or technical programs. Within the American higher education system, critics note that national accrediting bodies (though not necessarily all nationally-accredited schools) have much lower standards than regional bodies, and consider them disreputable for this reason.

There are six regional accreditors involved in higher education accreditation in the United States.

- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC-CIHE) Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (NEASC-CTCI) Commission on Technical and Career Institutions
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) (HLC Higher Learning Commission)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC-ACCJC) Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (WASC-ACSCU) Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities

Additionally, the Board of Regents of the State of New York is recognized as an accreditor for degree-granting institutions of higher education in the state that designate the agency as their sole or primary accrediting agency. New York is the only state that is eligible to be federally recognized as an accreditor under a grandfather clause in federal law that allows recognition for state agencies if they were recognized as accreditors before October 1, 1991.

National Accreditors

The national accreditors get their name from their common (but not universal) practice of accrediting schools nationwide or even worldwide.

- Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
- Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
- Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET)
- Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)
- Distance Education and Training Council (DETC)

Programmatic Accreditation

These accreditors typically cover a specific program of professional education or training, but in some cases they cover the whole institution.

- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly American Dietetic Association Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE-ADA))
- Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
- Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM)
- Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE)
- Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
- Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
- Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools
- Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC)
- American Academy for Liberal Education (AALE)
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT/COAMFTE) Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education
- American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) Council for Accreditation (CFA)
- American Association of Nurse Anesthetists Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (CoA-NA)
- American Bar Association (ABA) Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar
- American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE) Committee on Accreditation
- American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) Division of Accreditation
- American Council for Construction Education (ACCE) Board of Trustees
- American Culinary Federation (ACF) Accrediting Commission
- American Dental Association (ADA) Commission on Dental Accreditation
- American Institute of Certified Planners/Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Planning Accreditation Board (PAB)
- American Library Association (ALA) Committee on Accreditation (CoA)
- American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE)
- American Optometric Association (AOA) Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE)
- American Osteopathic Association Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation
- American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE)
- American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Council on Podiatric Medical Education (CPME)
- American Psychological Association (APA) Committee on Accreditation (CoA)
- American Society for Microbiology American College of Microbiology
- American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB)
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology
- American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Division of Education and Research
- Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE)
- Association for Computing Machinery Accreditation Committee
- Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
- Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
- Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)
- Council on Accreditation for Recreation, Park Resources and Leisure Services]], sponsored by National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA)
- Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
- Commission on English Language Program Accreditation
- Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation
- Commission on Opticianry Accreditation
- Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
- Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA)
- Council on Aviation Accreditation (CAA)
- Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) Commission on Accreditation
- Council on Education for Public Health
- Council on Naturopathic Medical Education
- Council on Occupational Education
- Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) Commission on Standards and Accreditation
- Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Office of Social Work Accreditation and Educational Excellence
- International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE)
- Joint Review Committee on Education Programs in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT)
- Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology (JRCNMT)
- Liaison Committee on Medical Education
- Midwifery Education Accreditation Council
- Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education
- National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)
- National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences (NACCAS)
- National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB)
- National Association of Industrial Technology (NAIT)
- National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health Council on Accreditation
- National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) Commission on Accreditation
- National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD) Commission on Accreditation
- National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) Commission on Accreditation and Commission on Community/Junior College Accreditation
- National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation (COPRA)
- National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST) Commission on Accreditation
- National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
- National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council(EHAC)
- National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC)
- Planning Accreditation Board
- Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS)
- Society of American Foresters (SAF)
- State Bar of California Committee of Bar Examiners[16]
- Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC)

National Faith-based Accreditors

There are four recognized nationwide faith-based accrediting bodies in the United States.

- Association of Advanced Rabbinical and Talmudic Schools (AARTS)
- Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS) Commission on Accrediting
- Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) Commission on Accreditation
- Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) Accreditation Commission