In this post of the Accreditation series, I will be touching upon the process of seeking accreditation through the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, more commonly referred to as DEAC.
I’ll first dive into DEAC’s brief history and objectives, followed by eligibility requirements for institutions, and finally the process of DEAC accreditation from A to Z.
I’ll do my best to cover as much as I can, however, if you feel like you still have DEAC or accreditation-specific questions after reading this post, do reach out to me via email or phone call by all means.
DEAC’s History & Objective
DEAC was initially founded as National Home Study Council in 1926 to promote ethical business practices and education quality. The name of the organization was changed to Distance Education Accrediting Commission or DEAC in 2015.
As of today, DEAC is formally recognized by CHEA and the U.S Secretary of Education as an accrediting body for post-secondary distance education institutions that primarily offer distance-learning programs.
Consequently, DEAC’s main objective is to ensure a high standard in the academic quality of institutions that provide distance education.
Institution Eligibility for DEAC
Before submitting your Application for Accreditation to DEAC, your institution should be able to demonstrate the following criteria for eligibility:
- Each program offered should be predominantly distance or correspondence education (51 percent or more);
- Your institution must be authorized, licensed, and approved or exempted by an applicable state authority in education either in the U.S or overseas;
- At the time of your application, your institution must have been enrolling students for at least two consecutive years under the current ownership;
- There should be evidence via reviewed or audited financial statements that your college or university is indeed financially sound;
- The name of your institution should not contain associations with activities that could potentially damage DEAC’s reputation;
- Your institution as a whole, its board members, administrators, officials, and owners must have a record of sound reputation, ethical conduct, and integrity;
- Your institution must agree that as part of the application process, officers, managers, and owners may undergo a background check by DEAC
The Process of DEAC Accreditation
The whole process occurs in 4 distinctive steps:
- Preparation for accreditation
- Eligibility demonstration
- Self-evaluation assessment
- Full evaluation for accreditation
It’s important to note that you need to complete each step before moving on to the next one. In other words, you can’t start a self-evaluation assessment without first having met and demonstrated the eligibility of your institution.
1. Preparation for accreditation
During your first step, you will have to appoint a key person at your institution who will be leading your accreditation application process. This individual will enroll and complete the “Preparing for DEAC Accreditation” tutorial to qualify as a compliance officer.
This tutorial must be completed within a year before applying. Your application won’t be accepted unless a copy of the Certificate of Completion of the tutorial by your key appointed person has been provided.
2. Eligibility Demonstration
After the DEAC tutorial has been completed, your institution will apply for accreditation and pay a nonrefundable fee.
The application will require you to establish your eligibility as an institution. The burden of proof is fully on you as an applicant. Moving on, DEAC’s determination of your eligibility will be mailed to you within 20 days of the receipt of your application.
This letter will also mark the start of a formal evaluation for accreditation if your institution passed the eligibility requirements. If not, DEAC will provide the basis for its decision. You can always reapply after you have resolved the issues specified.
3. Self-evaluation Assessment
The next step, after receiving your acceptance letter from DEAC, is a readiness assessment. This will be conducted by an independent evaluator appointed by DEAC.
This assessment is a preliminary evaluation of your institution. It’s not comprehensive, which is why the outcome doesn’t grant or guarantee accreditation unless the next and final assessment is also completed.
Your preparation for the self-evaluation assessment will be performed by your institution’s compliance officer and staff. DEAC provides guidance on how to prepare in its “Guide to Self-Evaluation” which can be downloaded from the DEAC’s website.
4. Full evaluation for Accreditation
The final step is your on-site evaluation. This process allows DEAC to independently evaluate the information submitted in your self-evaluation report, and is conducted by an on-site team.
The members of the evaluation team are subject to DEAC’s Conflict of Interest Policy (you can find this in DEAC’s Accreditation Handbook Appendix).
Sometimes these visits are conducted virtually, depending on the Commission’s discretion.
The information provided within these four steps to DEAC accreditation is far from being comprehensive, however, it should be able to provide you with a basic understanding of this process.
Any type of post-secondary accreditation is an overwhelming journey, but you don’t have to do it alone. As a seasoned expert in education consultancy, I am here to help you.
When I work with my clients on their accreditation processes, I first ask them to select one or two key staff members who will meet with my team and me every week. Over time, we increase the number of meetings to twice per week.
During the meetings, we discuss various accreditation standards and the exhibits required to support each.
My team and I review all paperwork and suggest amendments before submitting applications. Once everything is ready for writing the SER, we either write the SER for clients to review or my clients write the SER and we review it. Whichever way clients are more comfortable with.
So if you’re looking for help with your accreditation as you open your university, don’t hesitate to contact me for a free, no-commitment consultation call.