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Module One: Regional Accrediting Agencies
 

The most recognized and accepted type of accreditation in the United States is regional accreditation. Generally, college credits or degrees received at a regionally accredited institution are accepted by other regionally accredited colleges or universities (non-regionally accredited programs are not as accepted). However, this acceptance is not guaranteed; each institution can establish its own policies based on the determination that the credits accepted meet educational objectives comparable to its own programs.

Six regional accrediting associations accredit colleges and universities in the United States. The United States Secretary of Education has recognized all six of these agencies as reliable authorities. All ensure that the institutions they accredit meet minimum levels of educational quality. As a result, institutions accredited by one of these six regional accrediting agencies are generally eligible to participate in federal student aid programs.

Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

The Western region covers institutions in California and Hawaii, the territories of Guam, American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, the Pacific Basin, and East Asia, and areas of the Pacific and East Asia where American/International schools or colleges may apply to it for service. Official accreditation name is Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities.

Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) is an independent, non-profit membership organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the regional authority on educational quality and institutional effectiveness of higher education institutions in the seven-state Northwest region of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. It fulfills its mission by establishing accreditation criteria and evaluation procedures by which institutions are reviewed. Official accreditation name is Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Colleges.

North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS)

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is an independent corporation and one of two commission members of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), which was founded in 1895 as one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. The Higher Learning Commission accredits, and thereby grants membership in the Commission and in the North Central Association, degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the North Central region. The Higher Learning Commission accredits institutions in Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Official accreditation name is North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Higher Learning Commission.

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states. The Commission’s mission is the enhancement of educational quality throughout the region and it strives to improve the effectiveness of institutions by ensuring that institutions meet standards established by the higher education community that address the needs of society and students. It serves as the common denominator of shared values and practices among the diverse institutions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Latin America and other international sites approved by the Commission on Colleges that award associate, baccalaureate, master’s, or doctoral degrees. The Commission also accepts applications from other international institutions of higher education. Official accreditation name is Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is the unit of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools that accredits degree-granting colleges and universities in the Middle States region, which includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and several locations internationally. Official accreditation name is Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Higher Education.

New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)

The New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. (NEASC) is the U.S. regional accreditation association providing educational accreditation for all levels of education, from pre-kindergarten to the doctoral level, in the six-state New England region. It also provides accreditation for some international schools, particularly at the elementary and secondary levels. Founded in 1885, it is the oldest of the regional accreditors in the United States. NEASC serves more than 2000 public and independent schools, colleges and universities in the six New England states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Official accreditation names are the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Technical and Career Institutions.

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