Most American students have been "sold" on the concept
that if a college is not accredited, regardless of where
it is located in the world, by an approved private
agency of the US Department of Education, it will, to
put it kindly, not be recognized as credible or meeting
minimum education quality standards.
USA Accreditation is a complicated subject.
In order for you to become a smart consumer, you'll need to have a basic understanding of accreditation in the United States and how it works, and the difference between accredited or unaccredited institutions.
The following concepts may provide some criteria for the evaluation of the education quality offered by an institution of education with an accreditation in the United States of America.
KEY CONCEPTS ABOUT EDUCATION ACCREDITATION IN THE USA
- The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of education quality.
- The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is the most important USA advocate and institutional voice for self-regulation of academic quality through accreditation. It is an association of 3,000 degree-granting colleges and universities and recognizes 60 institutional and programmatic accrediting organizations.
- One of the reasons that institutions seek accreditation in the USA is so that their students are eligible to receive federal student aid or other federal benefits.
- Accrediting agencies, which are private educational associations, develop evaluation criteria and conduct peer evaluations to assess whether or not those education quality criteria are met. Institutions and/or programs that request an agency's evaluation and that meet an agency's criteria are then "accredited" by that agency.
- The U.S. Department of Education does not accredit educational institutions and/or programs.
- Accrediting activities outside the United States are not within the legal authority of the Department of Education to recognize, are not reviewed by the Department, and the Department does not exercise any oversight over them or the assessment of their education quality.
- The U.S. Department of Education does not recognize foreign accrediting agencies, however, accrediting agencies that have been recognized by the Secretary of Education may accredit foreign institutions.
- Private credential evaluation services will evaluate a foreign degree for comparability to a U.S. degree. The U.S. Federal Government does not recommend or endorse any individual credential evaluation service or group of services, and does not conduct evaluations of education quality or accreditation.
- The accreditation are private, nongovernmental organizations created for the specific purpose of reviewing higher education institutions and programs for quality.
- Accreditation is one mean and references to assess the quality of an educational institution.
- Despite the widely recognized benefits and accountability of accreditation, some institutions choose, for various reasons, not to participate in an accreditation process. According to the United States Department of Education, it is possible for postsecondary educational institutions and programs to elect not to seek accreditation but nevertheless provide a quality postsecondary education. Yet, other unaccredited schools simply award degrees and diploma without merit for a price.
The World Association for Distance Education is ready and willing to assist in providing accreditation to any college or university willing to expend the effort to prepare a Self Study Report. Accreditation is a competitive issue among US based colleges and universities to ensure education quality. Once outside the boarders of the USA, American accreditation is taken as no better / no worse than any other accrediting standards for higher education quality. What institutions of higher learning should be considering is not adding more local accreditations in their home nation, but a truly international accreditation standard that may serve in the global market arena.