Within higher education, accreditation plays a major role in quality assurance and institutional effectiveness. In general the accreditation process involves evaluation by an external body based upon a set of agreed standards. If the standards are met, accreditation is granted. There are two types of accreditation for higher education institutions: institutional or specialized (programmatic). Institutional accreditation looks at the institution in its entirety, whereby specialized accreditation is discipline specific. These different types of accreditation, while there are often elements of overlap, are not dependent upon one another.
The accreditation process is a comprehensive review of a university mission, faculty qualifications, and curricula, and the process includes self-evaluations, peer-reviews, committee reviews, and the development of in-depth strategic plans. Accreditation ensures that students are learning material most relevant to their field of study, preparing them to be effective leaders upon graduation.
Types of Accreditation:-
- Institutional Accreditation
Institutional accreditation is an overall review of the entire university, and is typically done by a country’s national or regional accrediting body (such as the six regional accrediting bodies in the United States). These national agencies perform a review of the entire university, from its operating budgets to its student services.
Depending on where the university is located, it must be approved by one of these agencies in order to grant degrees and be considered legitimate in the country in which it operates. In most cases, institutional accreditation must be maintained, requiring a school to be reviewed every few years.
- Programmatic Accreditation
Once institutional accreditation is earned, universities can take accreditation a step further and seek "specialized" or "professional" accreditations for each of their disciplines. Specialized reviews are done by nongovernmental, private agencies that are knowledgeable about a particular field of study. For example, a College of Medicine can apply for specialized accreditations that specifically review its medical programs.
Programmatic accreditation communicates to other schools, potential employers, and the general public that the university’s degree programs in a particular field have passed a rigorous review, and that students are learning all they need to know about that area of study. Specialized accreditation also must be maintained.
Programmatic accreditation can affect the ability of students/graduates to find employment, transfer classes between universities, and pursue additional degrees at other institutions. However, not all specialized accreditations are alike. Some are recognized only within its home country, while others are recognized worldwide.