Accreditation is a stamp of approval by an approved governing body such as the Counsel on Occupational Accreditation (among many others). Accreditation shows that a school or program meets a prescribed academic standard.
It is very important to know whether or not a college or university is accredited. If you attend a college or university that is not accredited, you will not be able to transfer your credits to an accredited college or university. Degrees may not be recognized and you may not be able to get the job you want.
There is no national government authority or Ministry of Education for setting higher education standards in the U.S. but some states authorize or approve schools. Instead, colleges and universities have formed associations that set the standards themselves. These associations, called “accrediting bodies,” evaluate each U.S. college and university.
If the college or university meets minimum standards, it then receives an acceptable rating and is therefore designated “accredited.” This means it earns the right to be listed on the accrediting body’s list of acceptable schools. A school must maintain these high standards in order to remain accredited.
Types of Accreditation
There are two different types of accrediting bodies: institutional and professional.
1. Institutional Accreditation is based upon the entire school.
2. Professional Accreditation is based upon the standards kept by a particular school of law, medicine, engineering, or business for example, and is determined by judges within those professions.
You can find out whether a college or university is accredited by contacting the Council on Higher Education Accreditation at http://www.chea.org and the U.S. Network for Education Information at http://www.ed.gov/NLE/USNEI.
You can also find out about a school’s accreditation by looking up the school’s website in the School Directory and by requesting complimentary information from each school.
Accreditation for schools or programs that do not grant degrees varies, depending on its professional affiliation.