What is Accreditation and Why is it Important?
You have all heard about the importance of accreditation in higher education, but probably aren’t sure what the term exactly means. One of the biggest challenges with understanding accreditation is that the term is used quite broadly to describe many different things. In this post, we will try and clear up some of this confusion and describe what it is. We will also highlight the difference between institutional and program accreditation and discuss why accreditation is important in the selection of your program of study.
What is Accreditation?
In simple words, accreditation is a review process that determines if an educational program meets a defined standard of quality. During this process, an institution or program undergoes an official review process. Accreditation can be mandated by a government or can be voluntary. An accrediting body conducts the review and determines if an institution or program meets defined standards of quality. Since program curriculum and education standards are constantly being updated, accreditation is not permanent. Institutions must periodically renew their accreditation status to ensure that the education quality is maintained.
How an institution gets accredited depends on the process of each accreditation agency or organization. Accreditation in Canada is different than in the United States because different government and accrediting bodies are involved. In Canada, higher education schools work with a province or territory to become accredited as a DLI (Designated Learning Institution). In the U.S., colleges and universities are accredited by one of 6 recognized institutional accrediting organizations which are MSCHE (Middle States Commission on Higher Education), ACCJC (Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges) & WSCUC (WASC Senior College and University Commission, HCL (Higher Learning Commission), NECHE (New England Commission of Higher Education), NWCCU (Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities) and SACSCOC (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools). As seen in this example, accreditation can be national or regional.
Professional associations also determine accreditation in other fields such as nursing, teaching or law. Accrediting agencies typically operate in one specific domain of expertise, and have members from that community of experts who advance the knowledge, skills and best practices of profession.
Institutional Accreditation vs. Program Accreditation
Institutional accreditation and program accreditation are the two main types of accreditations. George Brown College is an example of institutional accreditation. It is a fully accredited post-secondary institution operating under the authority of the Ministry of Colleges and Universities in the Province of Ontario. This means that the entire college is recognized to meet the standards of education regulated by the province of Ontario. All certificates, diplomas, and degrees conferred by George Brown College are done so under the power vested in its Board of Governors through the Government of Ontario. George Brown College is a member of the Colleges and Institutes Canada (CIC), which is Canada's higher education sector leading organization consisting of over 200 post-secondary institutions.
Program accreditation is specific to a school’s programs. It is a review process, completed by an external team of experts from academia and or industry, to determine if educational programs meet defined standards of quality such as professional programs like engineering, business and law. For example, GBCs Electronics Technician Program is an approved program for student’s preparation for the Electronics Technician Association’s (ETA), Basic Electronics certification final exam.
Professional associations like ISCET, the International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians accredit diploma level electronics programs which when completed and combined with work experience and a final exam can earn an Associate, Journeyman or FCC level Electronics certification. GBC’s Electronics Technician is a certificate level program.
Why Accreditation Should be Important to You?
At the most basic level, accreditation indicates that an institution provides quality education. As a student, it’s important to understand the standards under which accreditation is granted; knowing this can help you decide which school to attend. The standards that schools have to meet to achieve accreditation include things like how a school provides academic support to students, curriculum content, their requirements, staff quality, and how well an institution prepares students upon graduation.
Accreditation is an assurance that a student will receive quality education. Additionally, attending an accredited institution or taking a program that is accredited may benefit you when looking for jobs. Employers value accreditation because it confirms that you earned a reliable credential from a reliable institution.
If you have any questions about our online technical programs, please contact a Program Consultant, by emailing email@example.com or calling us on our toll-free number 1-888-553-5333