Definition of Accreditation

Accreditation is a peer process whereby a private, nongovernmental agency grants public recognition to an institution or specialized program that meets or exceeds nationally established standards of acceptable educational quality. A guiding principle of accreditation is the recognition that institutions or specialized programs have a right to expect that they will be evaluated in the light of their own stated purposes, as long as those purposes are educationally appropriate and fall within the recognized scope of the accrediting body.

 There are two fundamental reasons for accreditation:

  1. To ensure quality assessment.
  2. To assist in quality improvement. 

Value of Accreditation

Accreditation provides services that are of value to several constituencies:

 Public receives:

  1. Reasonable assurance of the external evaluation of a program and its conformity with general expectations in the professional field;
  2. Identification of programs that have voluntarily undertaken explicit activities directed at improving their quality and their successful execution;
  3. Improvement in the professional services available to the public, resulting from the modification of program requirements to reflect changes in knowledge and practice that are generally accepted in the field;
  4. Less need for intervention by public agencies in the operations of educational programs, because of the availability of private accreditation for the maintenance and enhancement of educational quality. 

 Students receive:  

  1. Reasonable assurance that the educational activities of an accredited program have been found to be satisfactory and meet the needs of students;
  2. Assistance in transferring credits among programs and institutions;
  3. A uniform prerequisite for entering the profession.

 Programs receive:

  1.  The stimulus needed for self-directed improvement;
  2. Peer review and counsel provided by the accrediting agency;
  3. Enhancement of their reputation, because of the public’s regard for accreditation;
  4. Eligibility for selected governmental funding programs and private foundation grants.  

 Profession receives:

  1.  A means for participation of practitioners in establishing the requirements for preparation to enter the profession 
  2. A contribution to the unity of the profession by bringing together practitioners, educators, students, and the communities of interest in an activity directed toward improving professional preparation and practice.