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Schools in the USA

Humanities and Liberal Arts Accreditation

Accreditation is a form of independent, professional certification that focuses on schools and programs in a particular field. Accreditation of humanities and liberal arts schools and programs therefore assures you and your parents that the school adheres to high quality standards. Which means the programs are delivered by qualified faculty and are constantly updated to follow the changes and meet the needs of the relevant industry or working world. Attending an accredited school or program is often thought to make you more competitive on the job market.

Accreditation in the US takes place at different levels. First you have governmental and other agencies that govern and recognize the accrediting bodies. 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 and Institutional: 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. 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.


  • Specialized: Specialized accreditation is a type of national 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. There are hundreds of specialized accrediting bodies in the US.


  • 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
    American Academy for Liberal Education (AALE)
    Established: 1992
    Location: Washington, DC
    Web: www.aale.org
    Scope: Accredits higher education institutions-as well as departments within institutions-offering liberal arts and general education degrees at the baccalaureate level.

    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.

    Schools

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