Learn How Does College Accreditation Work?

Accreditation is a type of accreditation in which a third party verifies that a school or academic program satisfies minimal academic criteria.


Determine if your online school is accredited and learn how to spot a forgery. It assures that the academic certification is meaningful and will be accepted as such by businesses and other post-secondary institutions.

Given college education’s time and financial costs, prospective students must ensure that the school and program they choose is accredited. Learn more about accreditation and how to identify if a school or program is accredited.

What exactly is accreditation?

Accrediting agencies are private organizations that aim to ensure that academic institutions under their jurisdiction satisfy acceptable educational quality standards. These organizations can accredit institutions on a national or international scale or specialize in a particular location.

A regional body accredits most colleges and universities in the United States; this is known as institutional accreditation. Accrediting agencies can also accredit specific programs, which is referred to as programmatic accreditation. Remember that just because a program is accredited does not imply that the school is, and vice versa. Check to determine if any specific accreditations are available.


Six key regional accrediting agencies in the United States are recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education accreditation.

What exactly is CHEA?

Accrediting agencies inspect schools to guarantee they are up to standard, but who verifies that the accrediting agencies themselves are up to standard? The CHEA, or Council for Higher Education, is responsible for this. It is one of the two major organizations in the United States that recognizes other accrediting bodies (the US Department of Education). The CHEA ensures that the organizations certifying schools and academic programs meet certain minimum accreditation standards. The CHEA comprises over 3,000 post-secondary member institutions and recognizes approximately 60 organizations that accredit post-secondary programs or institutions.

What role does the Department of Education play?

When returning Korean War troops wanted to use the GI Bill to attend college, the US Department of School became involved in education accreditation. Unfortunately, because so many people want a college degree, unscrupulous degree mills have sprung up to take advantage of unwary potential students. To prevent taxpayer monies from being wasted on worthless degrees, Congress enacted legislation requiring any post-secondary institution receiving federal financial aid students to fulfill and maintain certain minimum academic quality standards.

While the DOE does not certify schools and has no direct influence over accreditation, it recognizes accrediting organizations. If an accrediting agency isn’t recognized by the DOE (or the CHEA), its accreditation-granting powers aren’t much weight or respect in academic or professional circles.

Accreditation of Colleges and Universities

Despite the necessity of accreditation, it is entirely voluntary. Any institution that is concerned about sustaining a student body and providing quality education, on the other hand, will endeavor to obtain and maintain accreditation. The particular procedure will vary depending on which accrediting agency the school seeks accreditation from, but the overall process normally takes one to two years to complete.