Types of Accreditation
Regional Accreditation is a form of institutional accreditation that involves a comprehensive review of all institutional functions. Regional accrediting organizations do not accredit individual programs, although new programs are actively reviewed through the substantive change process.
Voluntary, non-governmental, institutional accreditation, as practiced by WASC and other regional commissions, is a unique characteristic of American education. 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.
No institution in the United States is required to seek accreditation. However, because of the recognized benefits, most of the eligible institutions in this and other regions have sought to become accredited. Regional accreditation is granted to public and private, nonprofit and for-profit, two- and four-year institutions.
Two other agencies share the WASC acronym:
Accredits more than 4500 K-12 and non-degree-granting schools in California, Hawaii, the Pacific Islands, and East Asia, with offices in Burlingame and Temecula, CA
Accredits 150 associate degree-granting institutions in California, Hawaii, and the Pacific Basin, with offices in Novato, CA
Each Commission has standards, policies, institutional review procedures, and staff that are specific to that Commission.
Other Regional Accrediting Agencies
- Middle States Association Commission on Higher Education
- New England Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
A second type of institutional accreditation focuses on institutions in special areas of study. For example:
- Theology (Association of Theological Schools - ATS),
- Art and Design (the National Association of Schools of Art and Design - NASAD)
- Music (the National Association of Schools of Music - NASM).
Specialized or Professional Accreditation
A third type of accreditation is specialized or professional accreditation, which focuses on programs in a specific discipline within an institution, but does not evaluate the entire institution. Specialized accreditation exists in the fields of education, law, medicine, chiropractic, computer science, and more than 90 other disciplines. Most specialized accreditors require regional accreditation as a foundation for their reviews and as assurance of the fiscal integrity and health of the institution.
Links to Other Agencies
- American Council on Education (ACE)
- Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U)
- California Department of Education
- Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
- Hawaii Department of Education
- National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges
- United States Department of Education
- Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE)
- Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU)