Eric RiedelAfter recently sharing information with our community on Walden University’s participation in The Higher Learning Commission’s (HLC’s) new Standard Pathway for reaffirmation of accreditation and our upcoming site visit in May 2017, we received feedback that there was confusion around our institutional accreditation by a regional agency versus our specialized or programmatic accreditation. We would like to share a bit more information with you on the differences between the two types of accreditations.

Institutional Accreditation by a Regional Agency
All institutions of higher education have the option to voluntarily participate in an accreditation process that assures the quality of the whole institution. However, if an institution is to be eligible to disburse federal funds to its students, it must be accredited by an institutional accrediting agency that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). Walden University is accredited by HLC, one of the six regional accrediting organizations recognized by both the DOE and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). HLC accredits institutions in the north-central region of the U.S., including a mix of institutions like Northwestern University and University of Minnesota, and Walden. Our accreditation was reaffirmed in 2012–2013 for 10 more years. However, as accreditation is an ongoing process, we are currently drafting our assurance arguments to demonstrate that we meet HLC’s criteria for accreditation. Drafting the assurance arguments is required to prepare for our 4-year site visit in May 2017.

With regional accreditation, a team of our peers judges whether we are living the mission of the entire institution and whether we can show evidence that our faculty is effective and that our students are learning.

Specialized or Programmatic Accreditation
A number of our programs have received specialized accreditation, which is often also referred to as programmatic accreditation. Often, the university seeking the specialized or programmatic accreditation must first be regionally accredited before applying for specialized accreditation for one or more of its programs.

Specialized accreditation is a valuable and important verification that the specific program meets professional standards. The following are among the organizations that have accredited our programs:

  • ABET, the internationally recognized accreditor for college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology
  • The Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP)
  • The Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
  • The Project Management Institute (PMI)
  • The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

These accreditations, among others, demonstrate that the specific program, school, or college within an institution successfully prepares students for advancement in the field.

With specialized accreditation, a team of peers reviews an individual program and determines whether that specific program meets rigorous standards of quality.

Both forms of recognition are significant “value adds” for us in terms of distinction and reputation, and we continually strive to demonstrate the quality of our programs and institution.

Detailed information about Walden’s institutional and specialized accreditation can be found on the Walden website at www.waldenu.edu/accreditation.

Want to be part of the process? Follow us along the pathway, ask questions, and share your comments at HLCFeedback@waldenu.edu.

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