Programmatic Accreditation

Accreditation is hugely important when it comes to setting up your post-secondary education institution and one that will have an impact on both your short and long-term success.

Below is everything you need to know about programmatic accreditation in one simple-to-understand guide.

What Does Accreditation Mean? 

Accreditation is a process that is carried out to evaluate higher education institutions and the programs they offer, ensuring that they are at an acceptable standard. 

Accreditation is a mark of authenticity which gives an assurance of the quality of education your institution provides to both prospective students and governing bodies alike. 

Do I Need To Get Accredited?

It is not a requirement but by not doing so, you are putting yourself at a massive disadvantage. Accreditation is not just a way of demonstrating that your institution is offering a high standard of education, it can help in many other ways. 

1. To qualify for certain licensing or certification exams, it may require candidates to complete a program that is overseen by a specific accrediting agency. More info on what types of programs require accreditation can be found here.

2. It helps to set your students up for post-graduation success as employers will often judge their abilities based on whether they studied at an accredited institution or not. This in turn makes your institution a much more enticing prospect for students when selecting where they wish to study. 

3. If your institution is online-focused with distance learning at its heart, then you must be accredited to prove that you are providing the same level of education on offer from more traditional institutions. This will have a large impact on persuading students who are unsure about distance learning to study at your institution. 

4. If a student is wishing to switch from another institution to yours and you are both accredited, it is possible that they can transfer their credits over. This ease of transferring the credits over may be the difference between them joining your institution or staying at their current one. 

5. Your students will be unable to fund their education with federal and state loans if your institution is not fully accredited.  

What Is Programmatic Accreditation?

There are two main types of accreditation that higher education institutions can qualify for. 

Institutional accreditation
This is awarded to institutions as a whole, recognizing that they have met the accreditation agency's criteria.

Programmatic accreditation (AKA Specialized accreditation)
Programmatic accreditation (or specialized accreditation as it is sometimes known) is instead given to specific professional or specialized programs and schools within your institution. Because programmatic agencies focus on more specific programs rather than institutions as a whole, there is a common misconception that these are superior accreditations. 

This is not true however and to qualify for programmatic accreditation, these schools must be housed in an already accredited institution. If your budget allows for it, it is recommended that you apply for both institutional and programmatic accreditation simultaneously. 

There are some specific schools and programs where programmatic accreditation is absolutely necessary for the success of your students once they graduate. 

These include: 

  1. Nursing 
  2. Counseling 
  3. Engineering
  4. Business
  5. Law

For more information about the various types of university accreditation read one of our previous posts here.

What Is A Programmatic Accrediting Agency?

An accreting agency is a private, non-governmental organization whose purpose is to assess and give credibility to educational institutions and programs. 

A programmatic accrediting agency is an accrediting agency that accredits specific programs and schools as opposed to the entire institution. Programmatic accrediting agencies will typically focus on one particular field of study, for example,  the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Council for Education in Nursing (ACEN) will accredit schools and programs involved in nursing. 

Whereas the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) will assess and accredit programs and schools that teach engineering, computing, technology, and applied sciences. There are however specific agencies that can provide both institutional and programmatic accreditation for single-purpose freestanding institutions, such as trade schools.

A full list of programmatic accrediting agencies can be found below this guide. 

How Do I Know If An Accrediting Agency Is Recognized? 

All accrediting agencies are regulated by both The Council for Higher Education Acceleration (CHEA) and the US Department of Education (DOE). However, they can sometimes have different requirements for them to recognize programmatic accrediting agencies. For example, DOE-approved agencies require your programs/schools to participate in federal, student, or governmental programs whereas CHEA-approved agencies do not. Because of this, some accrediting agencies may be recognized by one but not the other, such as the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education which is recognized by DOE but not CHEA.

These agencies are reviewed every couple of years and if they fail, they lose their approved status.

If they accredit your institution or program/school, then you will also lose your accredited status and will have to begin the process of accreditation again with an approved agency. If you are concerned about the validity of the agency you are wishing to obtain accreditation from, more information can be found here.

CHEA-Approved Accrediting Agencies 

Accreditation Commission for Audiology Education (ACAE)

Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)

Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA)

Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)

Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE)

Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE)

American Optometric Association

Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA)

Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC)

American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS)

Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC)

American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE)

Committee on Accreditation

American Council for Construction Education (ACCE)

American Culinary Federation Education Foundation, Inc. (ACFEF-AC)

Accrediting Commission

American Library Association (ALA-CoA)

Committee on Accreditation

American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA-ACOTE)

Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education

American Physical Therapy Association (APTA-CAPTE)

Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education

American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA-CPME)

Council on Podiatric Medical Education

American Psychological Association (APA-CoA)

Commission on Accreditation

American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)

Council on Education (COE)

Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP)

Association for Behavior Analysis International Accreditation Board (ABAI)

Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering (ATMAE)

Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI)

Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM)

Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE-AAMFT)

American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC)

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)

Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE)

Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)

Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Education Programs, Inc. (CAMPEP)

Commission on Opticianry Accreditation (COA)

Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA)

Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)

Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA)

Council for Standards in Human Service Education (CSHSE)

Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)

Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology


American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA-NAEP)

Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related Professions (COAPRT)

Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE)

Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE)

Commission on Standards and Accreditation

Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)

Commission on Accreditation (COA)

International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE)

Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT)

Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology (JRCNMT)

Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB-ASLA)

American Society of Landscape Architects

Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC)

National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)

Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA)

Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation (COPRA)

Planning Accreditation Board (PAB)

Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS)

DOE-Approved Accrediting Agencies

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics

Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools

Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine

Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc. – May 6, 2018

Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges

Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training

American Bar Association, Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar

American Board of Funeral Service Education, Committee on Accreditation

American Osteopathic Association, Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation

American Podiatric Medical Association, Council on Podiatric Medical Education

The Association for Biblical Higher Education, Commission on Accreditation

Association of Advanced Rabbinical and Talmudic Schools, Accreditation Commission

Association of Institutions of Jewish Studies

Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools

Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation

Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs

The Council on Chiropractic Education, Commission on Accreditation

Council on Occupational Education

Distance Education Accrediting Commission

Higher Learning Commission

Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools

Midwifery Education Accreditation Council

Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education

National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences, Inc.

National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation

National Association of Schools of Dance, Commission on Accreditation

National Association of Schools of Music, Commission on Accreditation

National Association of Schools of Theatre, Commission on Accreditation

New England Commission of Higher Education

New York State Board of Regents, and the Commissioner of Education

Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Accreditation Commission

WASC Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges

WASC Senior College and University Commission

How can I obtain accreditation for my college or university?

For a bespoke look at how your college or university can obtain accreditation, book your free consultation now.
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