Accreditation is a voluntary, non-governmental process of self-regulation of higher education that serves two purposes: assuring the public of quality and fostering institutional improvement. The Commission’s Standards for Accreditation establish criteria for institutional quality. The Standards are essentially qualitative criteria that measure the institution’s current state of educational effectiveness. They allow the Commission to appraise a wide variety of collegiate institutions, differing in purpose, size, organization, scope of program, clientele served, support, and control. The non-prescriptive nature of the Standards is meant to encourage innovation aimed at increasing the effectiveness of higher education.
Accredited colleges and universities demonstrate their integrity through their continued voluntary compliance with the Standards for Accreditation. This system of accreditation is based on institutions agreeing to participate in and to accept and profit by an honest and forthright assessment of institutional strengths and weaknesses. Further information about the Role and Value of Accreditation (63) is available here:
Accreditation is an activity long accepted in the United States but unknown in many other countries that rely on governmental supervision and control of educational institutions.
The record of accomplishment and outstanding success in the education of Americans can be traced in large part to the reluctance of the United States to impose governmental restrictions on institutions of postsecondary education, and to the success of the voluntary American system of accreditation in promoting quality without inhibiting innovation.
The high proportion of Americans benefiting from higher education, the reputation of universities in the United States for both fundamental and applied research, and the wide-spread availability of professional services in the United States all testify to postsecondary education of high quality, and to the success of the accreditation system which the institutions and professions of the United States have devised to promote that quality.
The Value of Accreditation, developed by regional, national and programmatic accrediting organizations and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, is available here.