Frequently Asked Questions
Who does the evaluative work of accreditation?
Rather than the federal government directly overseeing institutional quality, regional accreditation is a peer-review process led by those closest to the action.
What is the peer review process?
Regional accreditation is built around a rigorous peer-review process that helps ensure fiscal and educational integrity. We rely on experts in higher education, business, and management to analyze institutional performance using sophisticated tools and reliable data. Members of the public serve on every decision-making body. Regional accreditors employ roughly 170 staff and manage the work of an additional 4,000 highly trained professional volunteers to assess the quality of all aspects of institutions, from teaching and learning to governance, management, and finance.
What does regional accreditation do?
Regional accreditation helps ensure that students attending roughly 3,000 accredited colleges and universities in the United States get the best education possible. The public can feel confident that the colleges and universities we accredit are stable and deliver high quality student outcomes.
We challenge institutions to improve and to take action should they fail to meet our standards. Our first priority, however, is to help institutions that fail to meet standards produce better results for their students and thus avoid the need for a sanction.
How are institutions held accountable?
We believe America is best served by a higher education system that supports all types of students at all types of institutions. Careful judgment, along with the right mix of applied metrics that focus on multiple measures, is required to truly assess the quality of any institution. Ultimately, a thorough job of accreditation requires us to evaluate institutions in keeping with their distinctive missions and their current status of development; often this means some will require more attention than others during the accreditation process.
How does accreditation account for such diverse institutions?
Why is the current model of accreditation effective?
The current model of quality assurance is low cost, efficient, and effective. Significant changes to accreditation—such as putting government in charge of quality control or eliminating peer-review—could raise more problems than they would solve, remove protections against government intrusion, and add additional costs that would be passed on to students and taxpayers.