College and university accreditation helps to make sure that universities initially provide and maintain quality educational offerings for its students, and the different accreditation bodies in the agencies are categorized as either regional or national. The designated accreditation status is so important to higher education schools that nearly all of them are accredited through a United States (U.S.) Secretary of Education recognized accreditation agency, and most schools have program specific accreditation credentials as well, according to the Department of Education. Students are encouraged to find out if their chosen universities and colleges are accredited, and some employers check to see if potential hires are graduates of accredited universities before sending out offer letters. Here are some popular accreditation agencies that provide quality assurance for today's U.S. colleges and universities.
New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
There are six regional accreditation agencies that cover all U.S. higher education institutions. For example, New England is known for its outstanding colleges and universities like Harvard University, Brown University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University. The regional agency that grants accreditation to these schools is the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). NEASC establishes standards and policies that hold member schools accountable for setting academic program goals, confirming resources needed to achieve those goals and measuring goal achievement. The organization excels at keeping track of changing trends in education, and its standards are updated to help schools to continuously improve.
Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools Accreditation Commission
The Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools Accreditation Commission (TRACS) is an example of a national institutional accreditation organization, and it sets standards and monitors member institutions like Christian universities, colleges and seminaries. TRACS helps to make sure that these schools keep pace with the national standards in areas like curricula development, faculty qualifications, finances and governance. The organization's membership status with the American Council on Education helps to make sure that it keeps current with legislative changes related to education.
Distance Education Accrediting Commission
Online degree programs have been steadily gaining ground, and most employers do not distinguish between distance learning degrees and those earned in traditional classrooms. The success gained by online degree graduates is only part of the reason for the widespread change in attitude toward distance learning educational programs. The Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) was started in 1926 to help home study educational programs maintain accountability for quality, and the commission expanded its standards and policies to include the evaluation of online education activities within member institutions. Arguably, schools' online offerings have improved and gained acceptance by industry employers with the help of DEAC.
Council on Occupational Education
The Council on Occupational Education (COE) is a national accreditation agency for post secondary technical and trade schools which often grant diplomas, non degree certificates and associate degrees. Member institutions must be licensed by their associated states and operate for at least a year to be eligible for accreditation. They also must only provide vocational training. COE used to be a part of a regional accreditation body, but it became a national accreditation agency in 1995.
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The rigorous accreditation requirements that the above mentioned agencies require of colleges and universities are partially responsible for the great reputation that many U.S. universities enjoy at home and abroad. As colleges and universities expand their educational offerings different accreditation bodies in the agencies are also needed to help them to clarify program outcomes and maintain their quality standards.