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An Overview of Accreditation

"Accreditation" is review of the quality of higher education institutions and programs. In the United States, accreditation is a major way that students, families, government officials, and the press know that an institution or program provides a quality education.

Whether a college, university, or program is accredited is important:

  • Students who want federal (and sometimes state) grants and loans need to attend a college, university, or program that is accredited.
  • Employers ask if a college, university, or program is accredited before deciding to provide tuition assistance to current employees, evaluating the credentials of new employees, or making a charitable contribution.
  • The federal government requires that a college, university, or program be accredited in order to be eligible for federal grants and loans or other federal funds.
  • State governments require that a college, university, or program be accredited when they make state funds available to students or institutions and when they allow students to sit for state licensure examinations in some professional fields.

Accreditation is a complicated subject. There are 6,421 accredited institutions in the United States1. For more complete information on accreditation please visit The Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

1. CHEA Internal Review, Summer 2002