Schools undergo a quality assessment conducted by outside observers who are not connected with the college or university itself in order to obtain regional accreditation. Students benefit from regional accreditation as it ensures that they receive a high-quality education, as well as eligibility for government loans and grants. Taxpayers, meanwhile, can view accreditation as an assurance that their tax dollars are sent to reputable institutions. Teachers can consider working at an accredited college or university a mark of professional excellence, ensuring that their work and employer are viewed positively by other academics. The college itself, finally, can benefit from accreditation processes as they provide an outside check on the quality of their educational policies and institutional goals.
Regional accreditation is the primary form of accreditation for traditional colleges and universities in the U.S. Six major regional accrediting agencies exist, each covering a different region of the country, ensuring that schools in that region meet high standards for student opportunities and achievement.
National accreditation, on the other hand, is designed for schools that do not provide traditional degree programs. Organizations that exclusively offer distance learning courses, or which function primarily as career and technology schools, often seek this kind of accreditation instead. This ensures that their programs are compared to other online and distance-learning schools, rather than to traditional universities, which offer very different educational opportunities.
Accrediting agencies consider legal and organizational concerns, faculty qualifications, educational programs, the student body and operating procedures when evaluating a school for accreditation. An institution that can meet all of the following requirements is eligible for regional accreditation.
The following is a directory of state accrediting agencies which you can use to learn more about the accreditation process in your state.