Accreditation is the review of the quality of education offered by an institution or program. In the United States, accreditation is the primary way that students, families, the public, and government officials know that an institution provides a quality education. Accreditors, such as the DETC Accrediting Commission, are private, non-governmental organizations created for the purpose of establishing standards of accreditation and reviewing institutions and programs against these standards. Each accrediting organization has bylaws or a constitution that describes the legal framework for its activities and operations.
The accreditation process entails
the preparation of a self-evaluation report – a detailed examination of how the institution meets accreditation standards and policies
a team visit and report prepared by a team of education administrators, faculty, and practitioners with specialized expertise who determine whether or not accreditation standards are being met
a final review and accreditation decision made by the accreditor’s decision-making council or commission. The Commission members typically include education administrators, faculty, members of the public and other experts in the education field.
Accreditation Standards – requirements accreditors establish in areas that include academic quality, curriculum requirements, faculty, student services, ethical business practice, academic support services, learning and research resources, administrative capacity and financial capacity. These standards are developed by the accreditor in consultation with the institutions, faculty, students, administrators and members of the public.
Accreditation Policies – set forth descriptions of the functions and activities of the accrediting organization. Policies typically describe the process of accreditation, substantive changes, due process, appeals, information sharing and conflict of interest. Policies are also developed in consultation with institutions and the public.
More information on the DETC accreditation process is located in the DETC Accreditation Handbook.