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Getting recognised degrees

Posted on Monday, September 8, 2008

In the US educational accreditation is conducted by private membership associations unlike most other countries, finds Poonam Jain

Unlike other countries, in the US the educational accreditation is conducted by private membership associations. In most other countries this function is performed by government ministry of education.    
Educational accreditation is conferred by a third party after careful examination. They check if the institute is meeting certain standards with regards to its operation and the services they offer. The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions meets acceptable levels of quality. Accrediting agencies, which are private educational associations of regional or national scope, develop evaluation criteria and conduct peer evaluations to assess whether or not those criteria are met. Institutions and/or programs that request an agency's evaluation and that meet an agency's criteria are then "accredited" by that agency.
You need to take care that the college you plan to attend is properly accredited or you may find that your degree is not valued anywhere. There are two basic categories of accreditation for degree granting institutions in the United States: institutional and programmatic. The institutional accreditation reviews and accredits the whole institution. Programmatic accreditation or specialised accreditation recognises specific programmes, departments, or schools within an institution.
Below is a list of accrediting agencies:
Regional accreditors 
There are six regional accrediting organisations for universities in the USA. These regional accrediting organisations accredit all degrees, in all subject areas, for universities.
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education - MSCHE evaluates institutions, rather than specific programmes.
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges - This body accredits 1933 members for a variety of study programmes starting from pre-K to doctoral programmes.
  • The Higher Learning Commission - HLC initiated the AQIP - Academic Quality Improvement Program – in July 1999. AQIP defines a process through which an already -accredited institution can maintain its accreditation with the HLC.
  • The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities - The NWCCU accredits and pre-accredits institutions of higher education for performance, integrity, and quality. The Commission oversees regional accreditation for 160 institutions.
  • The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • The Western Association of Schools and Colleges – WASC accredits public and private schools, colleges, and universities in the United States. The WASC established Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities - looks into senior colleges and universities on the basis of attributes such as institutional mission, size, geography, funding and sponsorship, and personal characteristics such as ethnicity, gender distribution, and experience levels of students.   
National accreditors 
There are 52 recognized national accrediting bodies. Five of these bodies are listed by the Department of Education:
  • Distance Education and Training Council (DETC)
  • Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)
  • Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT)
  • Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET)
  • Council on Occupational Education (COE) 
MBA institute accreditors 
  • Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) – this body coordinates about 3000 degree granting universities and colleges and over 60 recognised accrediting organisations in the USA.
  • American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) – is the main body accrediting MBA courses in the USA. This body accredits programmes, and now accredits programmes in other countries too.
  • International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE) – this body operates internationally in Europe, Asia-Pacific, and South and Latin America.  
Medical studies accreditors 
  • The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) - is the nationally recognised accrediting authority for medical education programmes leading to the MD degree in US and Canadian medical schools. LCME is sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Medical Association.
  • The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) - is responsible for the Accreditation of post-MD medical training programmes within the United States. Accreditation is accomplished through a peer review process and is based upon established standards and guidelines.
  • Joint Commission International (JCI) - is a US based accrediting agency that establishes quality standards for international medical organisations.  
Engineering and technology accreditors 
Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) - represents most engineering professional societies in the USA, including the Association of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the Institution of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), and the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), amongst many others.


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