One of the first steps any prospective student should take before enrolling in a college or university, is to verify whether or not the school is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency. ACICS is a national accrediting agency recognized by both the US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
What is Accreditation?
Accreditation is a voluntary activity initiated by the institution that requires a rigorous self-evaluation and an independent, objective appraisal of the overall educational quality by peers. Accreditation emphasizes quality assurance and a commitment to continuous quality enhancement. To achieve accreditation by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), an institution must:
• Comply with rigorous standards;
• Develop and implement an Institutional Effectiveness Plan;
• Undergo an annual review of its financial stability, retention and placement rates; and
• Undergo announced and unannounced site visits.
If judged to be in compliance with established standards, an accreditation status may be granted for a specific period, ranging from three to eight years.
Why is Accreditation Important?
Accreditation is important because it:
- Helps determine if an institution meets or exceeds minimum standards of quality.
- Helps students determine acceptable institutions for enrollment.
- Assist institutions in determining acceptability of transfer credits. Read more about the transfer of credits.
- Helps employers determine the validity of programs of study and whether a graduate is qualified. Employers often require evidence that applicants have received a degree from an accredited school or program.
- Helps employers determine eligibility for employee tuition reimbursement programs.
- Enables graduates to sit for certification examinations.
- Involves staff, faculty, students, graduates, and advisory boards in institutional evaluation and planning.
- Creates goals for institutional self-improvement.
- Provides a self-regulatory alternative for state oversight functions.
- Provides a basis for determining eligibility for federal student assistance. Students must attend an accredited institution to apply for federal grants or loans.
The Scope of ACICS Accreditation
The scope of ACICS recognition by the Secretary of Education is defined as accreditation of private postsecondary institutions offering certificates or diplomas, and postsecondary institutions offering associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degrees in programs designed to educate students for professional, technical, or occupational careers, including those that offer those programs via distance education.
Recognition by CHEA affirms that standards and processes of accrediting organizations are consistent with quality, improvement, and accountability expectations that CHEA has established. In accordance with CHEA policies and procedures, more than half of ACICS’ accredited institutions are degree-granting.
State Authority to Operate
State licensing agencies, higher education commissions, and other bureaus for private postsecondary education grant institutions authorization to operate in their states. ACICS cooperates with the states by considering for accreditation only those institutions which are licensed by the state. ACICS also keeps the states informed of accreditation activities affecting the institutions in their states.