Are certification and college accreditation the same thing?
No. College accreditation pertains to the school. Certification means that you have passed an exam or met other requirements that certify you to practice a trade or profession. Certification is often overseen by state or regional agencies. Example: To become a licensed massage therapist in Missouri, you have to meet the requirements of the Missouri State Board of Therapeutic Massage.
Do colleges ever lose their accreditation?
Yes, they do. If that happens to your school, it can spell bad news for your work and career. That’s why it pays to check with all applicable accrediting agencies to verify the status of any school you are considering.
The Future of Accreditation
CHEA President Judith Eaton Addresses:
Podcast: CHEA President Judith Eaton Addresses Issues Related to Accreditation and Federal Policy, Including National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) Report on Accreditation and Evolving Federal Role in Quality Assurance (July 2012)
Council for Higher Education Accreditation
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to individual schools. And it gets even more complicated, because there are lots of different USDE-approved accrediting agencies. Some are regional, while others accredit specific types of schools. Here’s a partial list.
In order to be certified, an institution will have to demonstrate that it has explicit and ambitious learning outcomes for the institution as a whole and for all of its undergraduate academic and cocurricular programs. It will also have to demonstrate that program-level learning outcomes are consistent with institutional learning outcomes and that all its learning outcomes are consistent with widely acknowledged goals for higher education. It will be able to document that it routinely and systematically gathers evidence of the achievement of these outcomes using sound methodologies that allow judgments of effectiveness using external as well as internal criteria. The institution will also have to show that its leadership (including academic, student affairs, executive, and governing bodies), faculty, and administrators analyze and use the resulting evidence to improve programs and services continuously, and that learning has improved as a result of the evidence-informed changes. The institution will also have to publish on its website meaningful evidence about student learning at the institution, as well as other indicators of institutional performance....
Accreditation speaks primarily to the first of these considerations, serving as the basic indicator that an institution meets certain minimum standards...CHEA's standards for recognition function to ensure that the institutions or programs they accredit have met generally accepted minimum standards for accreditation."
Accreditation speaks primarily to the first of these considerations, serving as the basic indicator that an institution meets certain minimum standards.
Users of accreditation are urged to give careful attention to the accreditation conferred by accrediting bodies recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
CHEA has a formal process of recognition which requires that all accrediting bodies so recognized must meet the same standards. Under these standards, CHEA has recognized a number of accrediting bodies, including:
- regional accrediting commissions (which historically accredited the more traditional colleges and universities but which now accredit proprietary, vocational-technical, distance learning providers, and single-purpose institutions as well);
- national accrediting bodies that accredit various kinds of specialized institutions, including distance learning providers and freestanding professional schools; and
- professional organizations that accredit programs within multipurpose institutions.
Although accrediting agencies vary in the ways they are organized and in their statements of scope and mission, all accrediting bodies that meet
CHEA's standards for recognition function to ensure that the institutions or programs they accredit have met generally accepted minimum standards for accreditation.
Accreditation thus affords reason for confidence in an institution's or a program's purposes, in the appropriateness of its resources and plans for carrying out these purposes, and in its effectiveness in accomplishing its goals, insofar as these things can be judged. Accreditation speaks to the probability, but does not guarantee, that students have met acceptable standards of educational accomplishment.
Comparability and Applicability
Comparability of the nature, content, and level of transfer credit and the appropriateness and applicability of the credit earned to programs offered by the receiving institution are as important in the evaluation process as the accreditation status of the institution at which the transfer credit was awarded. Since accreditation does not address these questions, this information must be obtained from catalogues and other materials and from direct contact between knowledgeable and experienced faculty and staff at both the receiving and sending institutions. When such considerations as comparability and appropriateness of credit are satisfied, however, the receiving institution should have reasonable confidence that students from accredited institutions are qualified to undertake the receiving institution's educational program. In its articulation and transfer policies, the institution should judge courses, programs and other learning experiences on their learning outcomes, and the existence of valid evaluation measures, including third-party expert review, and not on modes of delivery.