Accreditation (Education) Law and Legal Definition

Accreditation is the act of granting credit or recognition to educational institutions that maintains suitable standards. It is a certification that a school or program meets prescribed academic standards. Accreditation is the approval of colleges and universities by nationally recognized professional associations or regional accrediting bodies. It is very important to know that a college or university is accredited. By accrediting an institution the competency, credibility, and authority of the institution is certified.

The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality. Accrediting agencies that are private educational associations of regional or national scope develop evaluation criteria and conduct peer evaluations to assess whether or not those criteria are met. Institutions and programs that request an agency's evaluation and that meet an agency's criteria are then accredited by that agency. The U.S. Department of Education does not accredit educational institutions and programs. However, the Secretary of Education is required by law to publish a list of nationally recognized accrediting agencies that the Secretary determines to be reliable authorities as to the quality of education or training provided by the institutions of higher education and the higher education programs they accredit.