Accreditation of Higher Education

When looking for degree programs, it is important to check accreditation. The following organizations are the authorities of higher education accreditation in the Untied States.  When choosing a degree program, the general rule is to make sure it is accredited by one of the "big five" regional accreditation bodies.

Council for Higher Education Accreditation


Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is a primary national voice for voluntary accreditation and quality assurance to the U.S. Congress and U.S. Department of Education. It is the absolute authority for higher education in the United States.  If you are looking for a degree program, make sure it is recognized by CHEA.

Official Website: http://www.chea.org/

The main usage is to ccrediated schools in the Database of Institutions and Programs Accredited by Recognized United States Accrediting Organizations.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) database lists more than 8,200 degree-granting and non-degree-granting institutions and more than 20,200 programs that are accredited by United States accrediting organizations that have been recognized either by CHEA or by the United States Department of Education (USDE) or both. Each accrediting organization’s list of institutions or programs is prefaced by a brief description of the accredited status of the institutions or programs on the list and the year for which the list is accurate. The information in the CHEA database was supplied by the accrediting organizations.

CHEA Directories: http://www.chea.org/Directories/
Search CHEA: http://www.chea.org/search/default.asp
CHEA At A Glance: http://www.chea.org/pdf/chea_glance_2006.pdf

New England Association of Schools and Colleges


The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) provides accreditation services for more than 2000 public and private institutions in the six state region - Pre-K through university. Emanating from high quality standards, NEASC accreditation uses self-reflection, peer review and best practices as integral components of its assessment process and monitors the follow-up endeavors leading to continuous school/program improvement.

NEASC consists of six Commissions, each of which sets the standards for a particular segment of the educational community:
  • Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
  • Commission on Technical & Career Institutions
  • Commission on Public Secondary Schools
  • Commission on Independent Schools
  • Commission on Public Elementary & Middle Schools
  • Commission on American International Schools Abroad
Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE)

The Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE) of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges is the regional accreditation agency for colleges and universities in the six New England states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Three institutions in Greece, three in Switzerland, and one in Bulgaria, Bermuda, and Lebanon, respectively, are also affiliated with CIHE.  There are currently about 240 colleges and institutions accredited by the CIHE.

The Commission is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a reliable authority on the quality of education for the institutions it accredits. The Commission is also recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), affirming that its Standards and processes are consistent with the quality, improvement, and accountability expectations that CHEA has established.

CHEA Recognized Scope of Accreditation

Recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, April 2002.  Institutions that award bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees and associate degree granting institutions that include degrees in liberal arts and general studies in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and other geographic areas in which the commission now conducts accrediting activities.


Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools


The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA) is a non-governmental, voluntary organization of educational institutions, acting through their respective Commissions, committed to excellence in all levels across the continuum of education.  There are three commissions governed by the association:

  • The Commission on Elementary Schools (CES-SMA)
  • The commission on Secondary Schools (CSS-SMA)
  • The Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is the unit of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools that accredits degree-granting colleges and universities in the Middle States region, which includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and several locations internationally.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is a voluntary, non-governmental, membership association that is dedicated to quality assurance and improvement through accreditation via peer evaluation. Middle States accreditation instills public confidence in institutional mission, goals, performance, and resources through its rigorous accreditation standards and their enforcement.

CHEA Recognized Scope of Accreditation

Recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, April 2002.  Degree-granting institutions which offer one or more postsecondary educational programs at least one academic year in length in Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and other geographic areas in which the commission now conducts accrediting activities.

MSA Official Ste: http://www.middlestates.org/
MSCHE Official Site: http://www.msche.org/

North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA)


The purpose of the Association shall be to require its Commission members to have accrediting processes that foster quality, encourage academic excellence, and improve teaching and learning.  The Association shall also encourage and support cooperative relationships among schools, and colleges and universities that hold membership in the Association.  The commission members include:
  • Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (CASI) accredits elementary, secondary and non degree-granting postsecondary schools.
  • The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accredits degree-granting colleges and universities.
The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is an independent corporation and one of two commission members of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), which is one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. The Higher Learning Commission accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the North Central region.

This commission accredits higher education institutions in the 19 north central states of Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming. Over 1000 institutions are currently accredited by this commission.

CHEA Recognized Scope of Accreditation

Recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, January 2003. Degree granting institutions incorporated in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming or federally authorized sovereign nations that are authorized (licensed) by the same state or nation to award higher degrees (associate, baccalaureate, master's, first professional and/or doctoral degrees (both research and professional)).

NCAHLC Official Site: http://www.ncahlc.org/

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)


The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states.  The Commission’s mission is the enhancement of educational quality throughout the region and it strives to improve the effectiveness of institutions by ensuring that institutions meet standards established by the higher education community that address the needs of society and students.  It serves as the common denominator of shared values and practices among the diverse institutions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Latin America and other international sites approved by the Commission on Colleges that award associate, baccalaureate, master’s, or doctoral degrees. The Commission also accepts applications from other international institutions of higher education.

Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Colleges and universities in the 11 southern states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia are accredited by this commission which was founded in 1912. There are currently about 800 institutions accredited by this commission.

CHEA Recognized Scope of Accreditation

Recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, January 2003. Regional accrediting body for degree-granting institutions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and in Latin America.

SACS Official Site: http://www.sacs.org/
SACSCOC Official Site: http://www.sacscoc.org/


Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges


Founded in 1917, the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges is a voluntary, nongovernmental organization for the improvement of educational institutions and for the development of better working relationships among schools and postsecondary institutions. Membership follows accreditation by either the Commission on Colleges or the Commission on Schools.

The Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges is one of six similar regional associations in the United States which accredits schools and colleges. The Northwest region includes Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. Control of the Association is vested in its institutional members who meet annually in convention to transact the business of the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges.

Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) is an independent, non-profit membership organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the regional authority on educational quality and institutional effectiveness of higher education institutions in the seven-state Northwest region of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. It fulfills its mission by establishing accreditation criteria and evaluation procedures by which institutions are reviewed.

The Commission oversees regional accreditation for 162 institutions. Its decision-making body consists of up to twenty-six Commissioners who represent the public and the diversity of higher education institutions within the Northwest region.

NWCCU Official Site: http://www.nwccu.org/

Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)


Founded in 1912, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) is one of the most respected and longest established national accreditor of academic institutions in the United States. It is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

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.

ACICS currently accredits more than 900 institutions throughout the United States and more than a dozen foreign countries enrolling over 800,000 students. ACICS is a not-for-profit organization incorporated in the Commonwealth of Virginia with offices maintained in the District of Columbia.

ACICS Limitations

ACICS is not authorized to accredit doctoral degrees.  Although fully reorganized by CHEA, ACICS is not considered equal to the big six regional associations.  ACICS accredited schools often are also members of Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) which is also in weaker status.

CHEA Recognized Scope of Accreditation

Recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, May 2001.  Accreditation of private postsecondary institutions offering certificates or diplomas, and post secondary institutions offering associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in programs designed to educate students for professional, technical, or occupational careers including those that offer those programs via distance education or internationally.

ACICS Official Site: http://www.acics.org/

Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)


Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), founded in 1988, was created by its members to fulfill a need for specialized accreditation by institutions of higher education with business schools and programs. ACBSP is a specialized accrediting organization that reviews the quality and integrity of business degree programs. ACBSP accredits all business programs at all degree levels such as associate degrees in accounting to doctorate degrees in management.

In September 19, 2011 the CHEA Board of Directors determined that ACBSP demonstrated that it meets these standards, that its accreditation process is consistent with the quality, improvement and accountability expectations that CHEA has established and should receive recognition for a period of up to 10 years.

CHEA Recognized Scope of Accreditation

Recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, September 2011.  ACBSP accredits business, accounting, and business-related programs at the associate, baccalaureate, master, and doctorate degree levels worldwide.

ACBSP Official Site: http://www.acbsp.org/
Member Institutions and Accredited Programs: http://www.acbsp.org/p/cm/ld/fid=14

The International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education


The International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE) was founded in 1997 by Dr. John L. Green Jr. in response to the expressed needs of presidents, chief academic officers, and heads of academic business units who wanted an accreditation process that was mission-driven and outcomes-based. At that time, the majority of the four-year colleges and universities in the United States that offered degrees in business were not recognized by the existing business accrediting bodies. Similarly, hundreds of institutions of higher education located outside of the United States were unable to obtain specialized accreditation.

The mission of the IACBE is to promote and recognize excellence in business education in institutions of higher education worldwide, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, through specialized accreditation of business programs.

At its meeting on January 24, 2011, the CHEA Board of Directors reviewed the recommendation of the CHEA Committee on Recognition regarding the recognition application submitted by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education. The Board of Directors accepted the committee's recommendation and granted recognition to the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education.


The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business


AACSB International—The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is a global, nonprofit membership organization of educational institutions, businesses, and other entities devoted to the advancement of management education. Established in 1916, AACSB International provides its members with a variety of products and services to assist them with the continuous improvement of their business programs and schools.


American Psychological Association


The American Psychological Assocation (APA) is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA is the world's largest association of psychologists, with more than 137,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students as its members.

APA Commission on Accreditation

The APA Commission on Accreditation (APA-CoA) is recognized by both the U.S. Department of Education and the Council of Higher Education Accreditation, as the national accrediting authority for professional education and training in psychology. Accordingly, the APA-CoA’s accreditation policies, procedures and guidelines are intended to be consistent with national recognized purposes and values of accreditation, as articulated by governmental and nongovernmental groups with an interest in accreditation.

CHEA Recognized Scope of Accreditation

Recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, April 2002.  Doctoral programs in clinical, counseling, school, and combined professional-scientific psychology; internship programs in professional psychology; and postdoctoral residency programs in professional psychology.

APA Official Site: http://www.apa.org/
APA Accredited Programs and Institutions: http://www.apa.org/ed/accreditation/programs/index.aspx

Distance Education and Training Council


The Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) is a voluntary, non-governmental, educational organization that operates a nationally recognized accrediting association, the DETC Accrediting Commission.  The Council was founded in 1926 to promote sound educational standards and ethical business practices within the correspondence field. The independent nine-member Accrediting Commission of the DETC was established in 1955; shortly thereafter it gained the approval of the U.S. Department of Education as the "nationally recognized accrediting agency" under terms of Public Law. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) also recognizes the DETC Accrediting Commission.

Weak Status of DETC

Although DETC is offically recoganized and fully legitimate, It is in fact not equal to the six regional accredications which are considered "more authoritive."  Regionally accredited schools don't view DETC as their equal. While credits from regionally accredited schools may transfer to other regionally accredited schools easily, credits from DETC accredited schools are often looked upon with suspicion. Even some schools with DETC accreditation view transcripts from regionally accredited schools as superior.  If you're planning on transferring schools or pursuing additional study, be aware that each school has its own transfer policy. Some schools may accept your DETC credits unconditionally. Some may not give you full credit. Some may reject your transcript completely.

CHEA Recognized Scope of Accreditation

Recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, January 2001.  The accreditation of higher learning institutions in the United States and international locations that offer programs of study that are delivered primarily by distance (51 percent or more) and award credentials at the associate, baccalaureate, master’s, first professional and professional doctoral degree level.

Official Site: http://www.detc.org/



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