Accreditation ensures that higher education institutions as well as academic and professional programs achieve and maintain a level of performance, integrity, and quality that entitles them to the confidence of the educational community and public they serve. In the United States, this recognition is extended primarily through non-governmental, voluntary, institutional, or professional associations. These groups establish criteria for accreditation, arrange site visits, evaluate those institutions and professional programs seeking accreditation, and publicly designate those programs that meet the criteria.
Although accreditation is basically a private, voluntary process, accrediting decisions are used as a consideration in many formal actions by governmental funding agencies, scholarship commissions, foundations, employers, counselors, and potential students. Accrediting bodies have come to be viewed as quasi-public entities with important responsibilities to the many groups who interact with the educational community. Nevertheless, all institutions or programs have undertaken accreditation activities primarily to ensure that the institution or the members of the profession have received the highest level of educational preparation possible.
There are two types of accreditation; each of these types has its own distinct definition of eligibility, criteria for accreditation, and operating procedures. For more information choose the type of accreditation listed below.