Accreditation is a voluntary peer review process by the higher education community that aims to assure academic quality and accountability and to encourage improvement.
The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided meets acceptable levels of quality. Accrediting agencies develop evaluation criteria and conduct peer evaluations to assess whether or not those criteria are met.
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 that each of an institution’s parts is contributing to the achievement of the institution’s objectives, although not necessarily all at the same level of quality.
Institutional accreditation involves a comprehensive review of all institutional functions. Accreditation is granted at the completion of a peer review process, and assures the educational community, the general public, and other organizations that an accredited institution has met high standards of quality and effectiveness
Specialized accreditation normally applies to the evaluation of programs, departments, or colleges which usually are parts of an institution. The unit accredited may be as large as a college within a university or as small as a curriculum within a discipline.
The results of accreditation and quality of education surveys demonstrated that accreditation has had a profound and enduring impact on institutions’ quality of education, regardless of the size, resources, or enrollment.
The primary benefits of accreditation are to: