Accreditation in the United States is a voluntary process by non-governmental units, such as institutional agencies or professional associations. These organizations establish criteria and procedures for evaluating the quality of education offered by institutions or academic programs.
There are two types of accreditation:
Institutional Accreditation, granted by regional and national accrediting commissions of schools and colleges, is awarded to total units such as state universities or private colleges.
Specialized Accreditation is awarded to professional programs within institutions, or to occupational schools offering specific training skills and knowledge.
Often, specialized accrediting bodies are organized by professional associations representing such fields as business, counseling, law, or public health.
Incorporated in 1981 as an independent Council by the American Association for Counseling and Development and its membership divisions, the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is a specialized accrediting body. The Department of Human Development Counseling is fully accredited by CACREP in Community, School, and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling.
Benefits of Accreditation:
To the public, Accreditation provides:
- An assurance that the program has successfully met specific standards established by the professions
- Assistance in the identification and selection of practitioners who have graduated from accredited programs
- An improvement in counseling services, as accredited programs strive to modify their educational activities in accordance to the ongoing changes in the profession
Accreditation benefits students by:
- Assisting in the selection of a quality training program
- Assisting graduates in meeting credentialing requirements, such as certification and licensure
- Assuring satisfactory educational activities
Institutions benefit from accreditation by:
- Enhancing visibility and recognition
- Attracting and recruiting highly qualified students and faculty
- Clarifying the program’s mission and future direction
- Protecting programs from encroachments in periods of curtailed activity
- Providing a stimulus for self-evaluation and program improvement