What is accreditation?
Accreditation is a voluntary process an institution enters into, ensuring that it meets rigorous quality standards set by external accrediting bodies. For example, an accrediting agency will examine the university’s academic programs, financial condition, governance and administration, admissions and student personnel services, resources, student academic achievement, and organizational effectiveness, among other factors. An accrediting organization is an independent body that objectively judges an institution against these standards.
What types of accreditations are there?
There are two basic types of educational accreditation: institutional and specialized. To award federal financial aid, an institution must be accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Specialized accreditation is appropriate for professional programs that lead to certification or licensure. Since all accreditation is voluntary, institutions select the kinds of accreditation they want to pursue, based on their own strategic plan and the types of programs they offer.
What process must an institution go through to become accredited?
Typically, an institution will need to submit a self-study at the beginning of the process based on the criteria of the accrediting body. The institution will be subjected to a review and site visit by a group of peers, who will evaluate how the institution or program meets the criteria. Afterward, the accrediting body will issue a decision.
How often does an institution need to be accredited?
Once an institution becomes accredited, it must maintain that status through an ongoing review process. This will include periodic reports to, and on-site visits by, the accrediting agency.
What regional accreditation does Walden have?
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and a member of the North Central Association, www.ncahlc.org. The North Central Association is one of the six officially recognized regional bodies in the United States authorized to accredit colleges and universities and was created to develop and maintain high standards of academic excellence. In 2011, Walden also successfully completed its work in the Academy for Assessment of Student Learning sponsored by the HLC.
The Council for Higher Education Accreditation is an advocate for quality assurance and institutional accountability and transparency in higher education. To that end, it works actively to strengthen accreditation through the recognition of 60 accrediting agencies. It is a membership organization of colleges and universities that share these goals.
Does Walden have specialized, or program-specific, accreditations/affiliations?
Program-specific accreditations/affiliations are discussed on each school or degree program’s Web page. With the May 2012 accreditation by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) of The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership, Walden has now received specialized accreditation in some of its main areas of graduate study. This includes management (ACBSP), counseling (CACREP), and nursing (CCNE).
Where can I find more information on accreditation?
You can find more information on the accreditation process, as well as a particular school’s status, at the following websites: