Justice and Security Accreditation
Accreditation is a form of independent, professional certification that focuses on schools and programs in a particular field. Accreditation of the various programs that make up the field of justice and security therefore assures you and your parents that the institution 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. A degree or other credential from an accredited institution or program can help make you more competitive on the job market, and in some cases may be required for professional certification.
Accreditation in the US takes place at different levels. At the highest level, 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.
When assessing quality, you can also look at whether a school or program has any memberships in, or endorsements by, professional associations or government agencies which reflect certain standards of quality, but this is not the same as official accreditation. For instance, the American Society of Criminology does not accredit programs, but is a national organization committed to maintaining and promoting the quality of research and scholarship in various fields of criminology. Another example is that The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designate certain educational programs in the field of information security or assurance as Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAEIAE). Attending a designated CAEIAE program means you are eligible to apply for scholarships through the Department of Defense Information Assurance Scholarship Program and the Federal Cyber Service Scholarship for Service Program.
Recognized Regional Accrediting Agencies
Program-Specific Accreditation Agencies
Commission on Accreditation of Criminal Justice Programs (CACJP)
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Scope: The CACJP is a division of the National Association of Forensic Counselors (NAFC) which accredits both undergraduate and graduate programs.
National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA)
Location: Washington, DC
Scope: NASPAA accredits institutions offering bachelor's and master's programs in public affairs, public policy and administration across the US-which may include criminal justice programs.
Forensic Science Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC)
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Scope: An official standing committee of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), FEPAC accredits college-level programs leading to undergraduate and/or graduate degrees in forensic science.
Some Institution-Type-Specific Accrediting Agencies
Distance Education Training Council (DETC): Oversees accreditation of both public and private institutions offering degree and non-degree distance and online education nationally and internationally.
Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS): Oversees accreditation of US private postsecondary institutions offering certificates, diplomas, associate's, bachelor's, or master's degrees in professional, technical, or occupational programs.
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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