Thursday, July 7, 2011

How colleges get accredited, and why it’s important to your career

When pursuing a degree, students are expected to get good grades and meet specific criteria before they can graduate. So shouldn’t the school they’re attending have to pass some tests too?

When an institution for higher education passes a major exam, it’s called accreditation: official recognition that the school meets the standards set by professional and educational associations.

Such standards include student learning outcome assessments that prepare students for the workplace. Some employers will not hire graduates of non-accredited institutions, so accreditation is not only important to your education, but to your future career path as well.

Peirce College recently completed its 10-year re-accreditation self study and site visit with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), the U.S. Department of Education regional accrediting body for our institution. We are proud to share that our accreditation has been reaffirmed. It speaks loudly to the caliber and hard work of the Peirce community.

When you’re choosing the school where you’re going to earn your degree, it’s very important to look for accredited programs. No matter how hard you work or how good your grades are, your education could be overlooked if you complete a degree program at an unaccredited school.

In addition to regional accreditation, some industries have created programmatic accrediting agencies to ensure quality in a specific industry. For example, Peirce’s business program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). The American Bar Association (ABA) approves Peirce’s Paralegal Studies program.

These accreditations require periodic quality reports as well as a 10-year reaffirmation self study for ACBSP accreditation, and 7-year self study for ABA re-approval. Our faculty and staff are already working on the reports due 2011-2012 that will ensure our programs continue to meet the same high standards. Other degree program accreditations are in the pipeline.

These institutional, program-specific accreditations and approvals are not only important to our students and alumni. Accreditation validates to our stakeholders that the College and its programs meet prescribed standards of quality, which is crucial to the success of the Peirce.

If you’re currently applying to schools, be sure to check that they’re accredited by one of the seven regional accrediting bodies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education before paying any application fees or spending time filling out paperwork.

You can do this by searching for a school in the database provided by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Do you have questions about accreditation? Send me an e-mail or leave a comment so I can get you the information you’re looking for!