Accreditation Series 2: Types of Post-Secondary Accreditation

October 9, 2021
Accreditation Series 2: Types of Post-Secondary Accreditation
We provide the licensing and accreditation needed to establish a new university and offer comprehensive guidance throughout the process.

This involves helping our clients understand all the legal and financial requirements around university establishment, as well as providing marketing and branding advice to ensure their university or college stands out from other educational institutions.

Our competitors can only offer a limited service, either licensing or accreditation, as most don't have the skills or team required to provide a turnkey service. This is why EEC stands out from the crowd – we can offer our clients everything they need to get their university off the ground easily and efficiently.
We aim to provide a complete service that will give our clients every chance of success when setting up their university. With EEC, you get a complete package of expertise and support for your university startup project.

 At EEC we're looking at building a long-term relationship with our clients, where launching a university is only the first step.

 We are confident that no other company can match our team of experts and their specialized knowledge.

In the previous post in this series, I discussed the importance of accreditation in your post-secondary school setup journey.

In this blog post, I am going to dive into the different types of accreditation in the United States.

Keep in mind that you can always reach out to me via phone call or email for a free consultation about your accreditation needs or any other questions related to the university, college, or academic program set up in the USA.

Wait...What Is Accreditation Again?

In the United States, post-secondary institutions can operate with much autonomy. There is no Ministry of Education or other federal authority that exercises control over the quality of universities and colleges and as a result, US-based academic institutions vary greatly one from another in terms of the quality of their offered programs.

For this reason, accreditation was introduced as a practice. The goal of accrediting agencies is to ensure a basic level of quality through peer evaluation of academic programs and institutions.

Some important functions of accreditation to keep in mind are:

  • Accreditation evaluates the quality of academic programs at post-secondary institutions
  • Accreditation raises standards of post-secondary education by the means of continuous improvement of the quality of academic programs offered
  • Accreditation establishes criteria for professional licensure and certification

Moving on:

Types of Accreditation

There are two distinctive types of accreditation. One is referred to as “institutional”, and the other one is “specialized” (also called “programmatic”).

Generally speaking, institutional accreditation applies to an entire academic institution, assuming that each of its parts contributes to the achievement of its objectives.

Specialized, or programmatic accreditation, on the other hand, applies to programs, schools, and departments that are parts of an institution.

Institutional accreditation is further divided into two categories: national and regional. While national accrediting agencies accredit institutions in any state in America, regional accreditation bodies only accredit those located in a specific geographic region.

There’s a lot of debate in the academic space in regards to the prestigiousness of national vs regional accreditation types. This is in part due to a common belief about regional accrediting bodies being more focused on academic standards than national ones. As a result, regional accreditation has gained a reputation of being more prestigious.

From my professional experience of working with several privately-owned post-secondary universities and colleges, national accreditation is just as rigorous and academically focused as regional, contrary to the popular belief. In addition to that, national accreditation is more affordable and faster to obtain.

In an ideal scenario, you would apply for both the regional and national accreditation simultaneously, provided you have a budget that allows for this.

Regional Accreditation

As mentioned earlier, a regional accrediting body would serve a specific geographic region within the United States. These types of agencies only accredit post-secondary institutions and primary and secondary schools.

There are exactly six regional accrediting bodies that operate in the States. These are:

National Accreditation

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the US Department of Education (DOE) acknowledges several national accreditation bodies in the US. These agencies are referred to as “national” because they aren’t limited or organized by regional geographic areas.

To determine whether any given post-secondary school is accredited by a recognized national agency, you can take a look at those accrediting bodies that are approved by either or both the CHEA and DOE.

These national accrediting agencies are further classified into the following categories:

  1. Distance Education Accrediting Commission
  2. National Faith-Related Accrediting Organizations:
  1. National Career-Related Accrediting Organizations

Programmatic Accreditation

To reiterate, program accreditation (or specialized accreditation) is focused on academic programs within post-secondary institutions. Examples can be a Nursing program, the School of Business, and so on.

In most cases, programmatic accrediting bodies will only consider programs if the institutions as a whole are already accredited. In the United States, there are a number of these types of agencies, with each focused on a specific profession or a group of professions.

For instance, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB), the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE), and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) all focus on business programs accreditation.

The Accreditation Council for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) both accredit programs within the nursing profession.

The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) focuses on applied sciences, engineering, technology, and computing.

The American Bar Association (ABA) focuses on the legal profession, while the well-known American Psychological Association (APA) accredits all types of psychology programs.

When a certain program is accredited, its curriculum and quality have been assessed to meet the standards of a specific profession. Prospective students that choose an accredited program are confident that it is taught appropriately and will provide them with relevant knowledge and skills to succeed in that profession.

For a more comprehensive list of program accrediting agencies, check this section of the CHEA’s website.


Are you dreaming of opening your university or college in the USA? My team and I can help. Reach out to us today for further details.

For personalized guidance, feel free to reach out to Expert Education Consultants via email at with any questions you may have. This service is complimentary.

To explore customized solutions tailored to your specific needs, schedule a personalized one-on-one paid consultation with Dr. Sandra Norderhaug here.

Share this  post
twitter logofacebook logolinkedin logo