Simply put, accreditation is quality assurance through external peer review. When an institution or specialized program is accredited, it has demonstrated that meets standards set by organizations representing the academic community, professionals, and other stakeholders. To maintain accreditation the institution or program must undergo a similar review on a regular basis. Typically reviews are conducted every 7 to 10 years.
There are two types of accreditation: institutional and professional (sometimes called programmatic).
Professional accreditors review departments, schools, and colleges usually within a higher education institution. An institution, especially a larger university, might simultaneously maintain accreditation from a regional accreditor as well as from several professional accreditors.
CAEP is a professional accreditor because it reviews departments, schools, and colleges which prepare teachers and other educators. After completing a program, teachers seek licensure or certification from the state in which they wish to teach.
To avoid encountering dubious providers of educational offerings (“degree mills”) or dubious providers of quality assurance (“accreditation mills”), CAEP recommends that students and the public check the list of accredited institutions and recognized accrediting agencies on the websites for the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). For additional information on the harm of degree mills and accreditation mills, visit the CHEA website. CHEA is often referred to as an accreditor of accreditors. Under CHEA, professional accreditors undergo a peer review process to ensure the quality and integrity of standards and processes.
To learn more about accreditation visit the websites of these organizations:
The Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA) website has more information about professional accreditation and accreditors.
The U.S. Department of Education also plays a role in ensuring the quality of accreditors through its National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity. Lists of regional accreditors and specialized accreditors recognized by the Department are available on its website.