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Schools in the USA

Christian College and University Accreditation

Accreditation is a form of independent, professional certification that focuses on schools and programs in a particular field. Accreditation of Christian colleges therefore assures you and your parents that the school adheres to high quality standards.

Accreditation in the US takes place at different levels. On one level, governmental and other agencies govern and recognize the accrediting bodies. For instance, the US Department of Education, the Council for Higher Education Association (CHEA) and the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA) grant power to associations that oversee accreditation at the regional, institutional or program level.

  • Regional: The US Department of Education recognizes 6 distinct higher educational regions, each of which is overseen by a different accrediting body. This is the type of accreditation most commonly referred to and is for a university or college as a whole, not for individual programs. Accreditation by these regional agencies isn't automatic: this is voluntary accreditation, and some of these agencies may also restrict the types of schools they will accredit, such as only degree-granting institutions.


  • Institutional: Depending on the kind of university or college it is (e.g., private, technical, etc.) it may also be accredited by institute-type specific agencies. Christian colleges can be quite different in character, size, mandate and in the programs they offer. Therefore separate organizations have been created to represent and accredit these different types of Christian schools.


  • Specialized: Specialized accreditation is a type of accreditation that focuses on specific areas of study and individual programs. This is sometimes called professional accreditation, because it means specific programs meet the national standards for that field of study. Christian colleges offer a wide range of programs, so check the accreditation not only of the institution but of the program you intend to pursue.


  • When assessing quality, you can also look at whether a school or program has any memberships in, or endorsements by, discipline-specific professional associations which reflect certain standards of quality, but this is not the same as official accreditation.

    Accrediting Agencies for Christian Universities and Colleges
    Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS)
    Established: 1971
    Location: Forest, Virginia
    Web: www.tracs.org
    Scope: Provides voluntary accreditation for Christian institutions, colleges, universities, and seminaries in the US offering associate, baccalaureate, and graduate degrees.

    Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE)
    Established: 1947
    Location: Orlando, Florida
    Web: www.abhe.org
    Scope: Provides voluntary accreditation of postsecondary institutions throughout North America specializing in biblical ministry formation and professional leadership education.

    Association of Theological Schools in the US and Canada (ATS)
    Established: 1936
    Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    Web: www.ats.edu
    Scope: Accredits post-baccalaureate degree programs in professional and academic theological study in the US and Canada.

    Why Accreditation?
    The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality. Accrediting agencies have no legal control over institutions or programs; they promote certain standards and approve or renew membership of institutions that apply and meet the accreditation standards or criteria. Certain licensing programs may require that you've been through a course of study with specialized accreditation, because it ensures that you have been taught by faculty qualified to teach in that field. The US Secretary of Education and CHEA each maintain and publish a list of nationally recognized accrediting agencies, and most institutions attain eligibility for Federal funds by holding accredited or pre-accredited status with one of the recognized accrediting agencies.
     



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