What is accreditation?
Accreditation is the public recognition awarded to colleges, universities and programs that meet established educational standards. Accreditation assures that teaching, student achievement, curricula, academic support and other criteria meet certain levels of excellence and quality.
Types of Accreditors:
- Institutional accreditors – regional, national faith-based and national career-related accrediting organizations that review entire institutions; and
- Programmatic accreditors – professional and specialized accrediting organizations that review specific programs or subject area offerings.
Regional accrediting commissions are among the oldest accrediting organizations in the country. The United States is divided into six accreditation regions. Regional accrediting commissions review entire institutions, as opposed to programs or schools/colleges within the institutions:
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (www.msche.org) DE, DC, MD, NJ, NY, PA, PR, VI
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges (www.neasc.org) CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (www.ncahigherlearningcommission.org) AZ, AR, CO, IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MO, NE, NM, ND, OH, OK, SD, WV, WI, WY
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (www.nwccu.org) AK, ID, MT, OR, UT, WA
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (www.sacscoc.org) AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX, VA
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges (www.wascweb.org) CA, HI, AS, GU, FM, MH, MP
Faith-Based and Career:
The authority of these accrediting councils and commissions is not confined to a particular region, but rather extends to institutions of a particular type across the entire country. Career accreditors generally review vocational and professional institutions, many of which are proprietary. Faith-based accreditors accredit institutions that have a religious affiliation or are spiritually oriented. Both types accredit whole institutions rather than programs or schools/colleges within an institution.
Professional and Specialized:
Specialized and professional accreditors, like the Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI), accredit degree-granting programs in particular disciplines or program areas. Specialized accreditors review programs or schools/colleges within institutions.
Who Accredits the Accreditors?
The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is a private organization that recognizes all accreditors that accredit degree-granting institutions or programs.
The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) recognizes institutions and schools that seek federal aid for students and/or foreign student visas. Regional and faith-based institutions must be CHEA recognized prior to USDE recognition. USDE does not recognize specialized or programmatic accreditors, rather the institutions where such programs reside.
- Increases the attractiveness of the program to prospective students and their parents by ensuring that the program meets accepted standards of quality.
- Ensures employers that graduates possess a broad background in the aviation industry as well as skills needed for aviation specializations.
- Assures institutions that their aviation programs will periodically perform a comprehensive self-analysis to achieve their objectives.
- Keeps aviation educators in contact with other faculty, industry advisors, and practicing aviation professionals.