The goal of accreditation is to ensure that institutions of higher education meet acceptable levels of quality.
Some Important Functions of Accreditation
- Assess the quality of academic programs at institutions of higher education
- Create a culture of continuous improvement of academic quality at colleges and universities
- Involve faculty and staff comprehensively in institutional evaluation and planning
- Establish criteria for professional certification and licensure and for upgrading courses offering such preparation
(From the U.S. Department of Education)
Accreditation is not only valuable because it signals quality assurance; it also matters in other important ways:
- The federal government requires that a college, university, or program be accredited in order to be eligible to award students federal grants and loans of 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 also aids students as they move between colleges and universities by easing the transfer of academic credits.
- Employers may ask if a college, university, or program is accredited before decided to provide tuition assistance to current employees, when evaluating the credentials of new employees, or when making a charitable contribution.
There are two types of accreditation: institutional and specialized.
Institutional accreditation is granted by a regional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Utah Tech University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities is not partial, but applies to the institution as a whole.
Specialized or programmatic accreditation normally applies to professional schools and individual programs or departments within an institution. Specialized accreditation is typically granted by a number of national organizations, overseen through the U.S. Department of Education. Most of the specialized or programmatic agencies review units within an institution of higher education that is accredited by an institutional accrediting agency. Not all academic programs have an affiliated specialized accrediting body.