Institutional AccreditorsNational and Regional Institutional Accreditors
Higher education in the United States relies on accreditation to ensure quality and foster a culture of continuous improvement. It is important to understand that there are two types of educational accreditation – “institutional” and “programmatic” (also called specialized or professional – ASPA is comprised of this type of accreditor). Institutional accreditation reviews academic and organizational structures of a college or university as a whole, compared to Programmatic accreditation that conducts an in-depth assessment of specialized or professional programs at a college, university or independent institution.
And, there are two kinds of institutional accreditors: regional accreditors accredit institutions within a defined geographic region of the United States, and national accreditors accredit colleges and universities throughout the United States. Some regional accreditors also accredit institutions outside of their geographic region.
Some specialized accreditors accredit professional schools and postsecondary institutions that are free-standing in their operations and thus the specialized accreditor may also function in the capacity of an “institutional” accrediting agency.
In addition to ensuring quality in education, both types of accreditation are important – institutional accreditation can provide students with access to federal student aid, and completion of a program that is accredited by a specialized accreditor is required to become licensed or certified to work in many professions.