The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality. Accreditation in the United States involves non-governmental entities as well as governmental agencies. Accrediting agencies, which 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/or programs that request an agency's evaluation and that meet an agency's criteria are then considered accredited by that agency.

List of accrediting agencies

Accreditation is generally divided into two segments: institutional accreditation and specialized accreditation. Institutional accreditation normally applies to an entire institution, indicating that each of an institution's parts is contributing to the achievement of the institution's objectives, although not necessarily all at the same level of quality. Institutional accrediting agencies are further divided into regional accreditors, which accredit most of the public and some private institutions in a specific section of the United States, and national accreditors, which accredit many private vocational schools and colleges regardless of location.

Specialized or programmatic accreditation normally applies to programs, departments, or schools that are parts of an institution. The accredited unit may be as large as a college or school within a university or as small as a curriculum within a discipline. Most of the specialized or programmatic accrediting agencies review units within an institution of higher education that is accredited by one of the institutional accrediting commissions. However, certain accrediting agencies also accredit professional schools and other specialized or vocational institutions of higher education that are free-standing in their operations. Thus, a specialized or programmatic accrediting agency may also function in the capacity of an institutional accrediting agency.

In order to be sure the accrediting group is reliable, you should be sure the accreditation is granted by an association recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. The U.S. Department of Education does not accredit educational institutions and/or 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. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is a private nonprofit national organization that coordinates accreditation activities in the United States. CHEA is the only nongovernmental higher education organization that formally scrutinizes and certifies the quality of accrediting organizations.

The following is a list, with links, of some of the recognized accrediting agencies that accredit institutions operating in Missouri.

Institutional Accrediting Agencies:
(* denotes agency that also accredits specific programs.)

Accrediting Bureau of Heath Education Schools (ABHES)*
7777 Leesburg Pike, Suite 314N
Falls Church, VA 22043
Telephone: (703) 917-9503
Fax: (703) 917-4109
Email: [email protected]

Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET)
1722 N Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
Telephone: (202) 955-1113
Fax: (202) 955-1118
Email: [email protected]

Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)
750 First Street, N.E., Suite 980
Washington, DC 20002-4241
Telephone: (202) 336-6780
Fax: (202) 842-2593
Email:[email protected]

Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
2101 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 302
Arlington, VA 22201
Telephone: (703) 247-4212
Fax: (703) 247-4533
Email: [email protected]

Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE)
5575 South Semoran Boulevard, Suite 26
Orlando, FL 32822
Telephone: (407) 207-0808
Fax: (407) 207-0840
Email: [email protected]

Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS)
10 Summit Park Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15275
Telephone: (412) 788-6505
Fax: (412) 788-6510
Email: [email protected]

Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA)*
American Massage Therapy Association
1007 Church Street, Suite 302
Evanston, IL 60201
Telephone: (847) 869-5039
Fax: (847) 869-6739
Email: [email protected]

Distance Education and Training Council (DETC)
1600 18th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20009-2529
Telephone: (202) 234-5100
Fax: (202) 332-1386
Email: [email protected]

The Higher Learning Commission (NC)
North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
Chicago, IL 60604-1411
Telephone: (800) 621-7440
Fax: (312) 263-7462
Email: [email protected]

New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NE)
Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
209 Burlington Road
Bedford, MA 01730-1433
Telephone: 781-271-0022
Fax: 781-271-0950
Email: [email protected]

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SA)
Commission on Colleges
1866 Southern Lane
Decatur, GA 30033-4097
Telephone: 800-248-7701
Fax: 404-679-4558
Email: [email protected]

Specialized or Programmatic Accrediting Agencies:

Accrediting Bureau for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET)
111 Market Place, Suite 1050
Baltimore, MD 21202-4012
Telephone: (410) 347-7700
Fax: (410) 625-2238
Email: [email protected]

Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE)
American Occupational Therapy Association
4720 Montgomery Lane Suite 200
Bethesda, MD 20814-3449
Telephone: (301) 652-2682
Fax: (301) 652-7711
Email: [email protected]

Commission on Dental Accreditation
American Dental Association (ADA)
211 East Chicago Avenue, Suite 1900
Chicago, IL 60611
Telephone: (312) 440-2500
Fax: (312) 440-2915
Email: [email protected]

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
Council on Accreditation and Recognition
1361 Park Street
Clearwater, FL 33756
Telephone: (727) 210-2350
Fax: (727) 210-2354
Email: [email protected]

Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
American Counseling Association
1001 North Fairfax Street, Suite 510
Alexandria, VA 22314
Telephone: (703) 535-5990
Fax: (703) 739-6209
Email: [email protected]

For More Information:

The U.S. Department of Education maintains a searchable database of recognized accrediting agencies and the schools they accredit. Click here to visit that site.