This material is taken directly from the ACCJC-WASC website
What is accreditation?
Accreditation is a status granted to an educational institution that has
been found to meet or exceed stated criteria of educational quality.
Institutions voluntarily seek accreditation and it is conferred by
Accreditation has two fundamental purposes:
-to assure the quality of the institution and to assist in the
improvement of the institution.
Accreditation of an institution by an institutional accrediting body
certifies to the general public that the institution:
-has appropriate purposes.
-has the resources needed to accomplish its purposes.
-can demonstrate that it is accomplishing its purposes.
-gives reason to believe it will continue to accomplish its purposes.
How does the Commission determine if an institution meets accreditation
An institution seeking initial accreditation prepares an extensive report
on itself based on the criteria set forth in the document on Eligibility
requirements for Accreditation. This period of extensive self study is
followed by an on site visit by a team of peers selected by the
Commission. Based on its findings, the team makes a recommendation to the
Commission regarding the accreditation status of the institution. The team
will recommend denial, candidacy, or initial accreditation. The Commission
then acts to determine accreditation status, communicating its decision to
the institution. Once accredited, an institution is expected to comply
with the eligibility requirements and accreditation criteria continuously
and must be evaluated periodically.
How often are colleges evaluated?
Colleges maintain accreditation through continuous adherence to
accreditation criteria as set forth by the Commission. Colleges follow a
six year cycle during which institutional review is continuous. These
reviews includes an Annual Report, a Midterm Report, completion of a
comprehensive institutional self study, and an evaluation team peer
review. The Commission frequently requests for any other reports.
Do colleges ever lose accreditation?
Loss of accreditation occurs very infrequently because one of the
fundamental purposes of the Commission is to foster educational
excellence. The Commission, therefore, offers an array of services to
institutions in need of support in modifying practices that are
interfering with institutional mission. This support is intended to assist
institutions in avoiding loss of accreditation. However, if in the
judgment of the Commission, an institution has not satisfactorily
explained or corrected matters of which it has been given notice, its
accreditation may be terminated. Termination of accreditation is subject
to a request for review and appeal, with the accredited status of the
institution continuing pending completion of the appeal process.
What are the benefits of accreditation?
Accreditation provides both tangible and intangible benefits.
Accreditation certifies to the public that an institution meets or exceeds
specific standards of quality. Accreditation facilitates institutional
eligibility to participate in Title IV student financial aid programs.
Accreditation provides for a process of periodic self and peer review.
These activities are a positive force in improving institutional
effectiveness. Many institutions rely on regional accreditation in their
decisions to recognize transfer credit.
Does accreditation mean that credits and degrees can transfer to another
While it is typically true that many institutions recognize transfer
credits only from regionally accredited institutions, the basic principle
underlying issues of transfer is that each institution is responsible for
determining its own policies and practices in regard to transfer and award
of credit. The Commission requires that institutions have a policy on
transfer of credit by which the institution certifies that credits
accepted achieve educational objectives comparable to its own courses.
Does the Commission rank colleges?
Since each college is unique and has its own mission, the Commission does
not rank colleges. The responsibility of the Commission is to accredit
colleges based on standards of good practice in higher education.
Can the Commission recommend a college to a student?
The Commission does not recommend colleges. Specific information about
colleges can be located in the many reference books found in libraries.
Other valuable sources of information are high school or college
counselors and advisors, or college admissions officers.
What happens to a student's records when a college closes?
Commission policy states that when a college is closing, all academic,
financial aid information, and other records should be prepared for
permanent filing. The college should arrange with the state department of
higher education, another appropriate agency, or another college or
university for the filing of student records. Notification regarding the
location of records and their accessibility should be sent to all
students, including where possible, a copy of the student's record.
Who evaluates the Commission?
The Commission is authorized by the U.S. Department of Education as a
reliable agency of accreditation and must go through a periodic review
process. Previously ACCJC was recognized by the Commission on Recognition
of Postsecondary Accreditation (CORPA) through a review process. The
Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), a non profit
organization of colleges and universities, assumed the recognition process
from CORPA on January 1, 1997. CHEA recognizes, coordinates, and
periodically reviews the work of its recognized accrediting bodies and the
appropriateness of existing or proposed accrediting bodies and their