How to Become an Accredited University or College in the USA

September 5, 2021
How to Become an Accredited University or College in the USA
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.

If you are a foreign university that wants to set up on US soil or a professional or an investor who wants to establish a post-secondary educational institution, it will be important to understand the steps to legitimize your university or college.

After all, if your degree-granting institution is not accredited, students will be less likely to enroll.

Accreditation means that you have been recognized by an accrediting agency to have academically sound programs, financial sustainability, and qualified faculty and administrative staff to fulfill the needs of your potential students.

Consequently, you will be able to collaborate in the transfer of credits with other universities and be eligible for state funding and student loans.

Accreditation may seem like a daunting task bringing along with it a whirlwind of confusion. But what if I told you there are three clear steps to becoming accredited?

The Three Steps to Accreditation

The three steps to accreditation involve three categories of tasks. From my professional experience, these can be broken down into a timeline. This way, you complete one step and then move on to the next.

So what are these steps?

  1. Get a Business License
  2. Approval from the State
  3. Accreditation Application

It’s important to understand that you will have to complete these steps strictly in the above order, meaning you can’t simply jump from one step to another.  In other words, the completion of each is a prerequisite for being able to start the next task.

Step 1: Business License

Starting a private university, or a postsecondary educational institution is very much like starting a business. So Step 1 should have you focused on applying for a business license.

I’ve discussed this process in more depth in this blog post.

You will have to choose a business structure, i.e. sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, Corporation, etc., and apply for a license in the state that you are starting your institution in.

Learn more about which structure suits your goals best by checking this post.

The business license application can take place online by visiting the Secretary of State site. The process of receiving the license can take anywhere between a day to six months. This depends on the complexity of the application.

Since it is an educational institution, be prepared to wait between 3 to 4 weeks. You cannot recruit students just yet. But you are on the way to start the process for approvals.

Step 2: Getting Approved

The whole process now becomes more rigorous and robust. Before you apply to obtain your approvals, you will need to get documents in place to prove your university or college has what it takes to become a full-scale educational institution.

Here are the things you will need to prepare to better your chances of approval:

  • Program Curriculum: what are you going to teach?

This document needs to be ready to go with the application. This should also include the list of faculty members and other stakeholders. The State or the organization that will be providing the approval will want to know who is responsible for educating the students and whether they are qualified for it or not.

  • Proof of Campus Acquisition: where are you going to teach?

A document proving that you have rented, leased, or purchased a place where you will be operating your classes is required. For this part of the application, make sure you have the floor plans, the entire campus map, proof of lease, rent or purchase of location, zoning information, and the list of facilities available on site.

  • Financial Statements and a Business Plan

A business plan is a must-have. This blueprint of what the institution will do, its vision and mission, and its plans give a clear picture of how well you have planned for university. The financial statements and projections will also give an insight into the sustainability of your organization.

These documents need to be submitted to the Department of Education or Consumer Affairs Department in the State your institution will be based in.

The department will then review your documents and let you know if anything is missing. This process will take six to 18 months, depending on the programs you have submitted, and the state your university is set in.

You’ll find more information about the specific process of some States in the following links:




If you wish to get licensed in a state that is not mentioned on our website, contact me at

Step 3: Accreditation

With the approval and the license, you can now start recruiting students and teaching. Once that starts, you can begin applying for your accreditation.

You will have to identify an accreditation body, which can be national, or regional.

There are also program accreditations available, which provide accreditations for each program that you’re offering separately. Most accreditors won’t accept your application until your university or college has been operating for at least one full year.

Others won’t provide full accreditation until your school graduates a class of students from its longest program.

Something to keep in mind is that if your university or college only offers shorter programs such as Associates’s Degree (2 years), you will be able to obtain your accreditation sooner than if you were to offer longer programs such as an Undergraduate Degree (4 years).

Read more about WASC and DEAC, and other accreditors under the ‘More’ section of our website. And for any accreditation providers that are not mentioned, feel free to contact me for more information.

Closing Words

Starting a university or college is indeed a complex journey that’s full of roadblocks and challenges. But as you navigate this process, it’s crucial to start with the end goal in mind. What this means is that you need to clearly understand your objectives, and carefully plan for the steps that you’ll take towards them.

For instance, if your goal is to get your school accredited in the shortest time frame so that your student body can obtain loans and funding, you will want to offer shorter programs like Masters’s Degree and an Associate's Degree so that you can get accredited faster.

Whatever route you chose, having a dedicated expert education consultant as a partner in your journey can make a big difference.

Here at Expert Education Consultants, we provide you with comprehensive, turnkey consulting services to help you open your post-secondary institution from the ground up. We fully support you throughout your licensing, approval, and accreditation processes, to ensure your university or college is up and running in the shortest time frames.

Book your consultation with Dr. Sandra Norderhaug or email to get started.

Should you find yourself with questions or in need of personalized assistance, I encourage you to reach out. 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.

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