Posted on 18-May-21
A Brief Overview of Accreditation image

There is no federal agency within the United States governing postsecondary institutions of higher learning. While individual states have always had some authority, colleges and universities have been able to operate with a generous level of autonomy. So, on January 9, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Higher Education Act (HEA), which called for improved resources for and accreditation of higher education institutions and includes provisions for oversight of accrediting bodies (U.S. Department of Education, 2006).

Interestingly, accreditation is not mandated by the Department of Education, but rather a voluntary option to have an independent body apply rigorous standards to evaluate an institution’s policies, processes and resources, which must be met or exceeded to obtain accreditation (Garfolo and L’Huillier, 2015).

There are two types of accreditation: organizational/institutional and programmatic. Institutional accreditation focuses on the overall quality of a school, including governance and administration, admissions and student records, financial stability, effectiveness, resources, and constituent relationships. Programmatic accreditation is concerned with individual programs and all associated elements of such program (Olivi, 2013). To be clear, some U.S. colleges and universities with specialized training programs are involved in both types of accreditation.

IACET accreditation is organizational and provides a benchmark for integrity, encourages continuous improvement, and ensures the quality of organizations engaged in continuing education and training. The road to becoming an IACET Accredited Provider encompasses the evaluation of nine categories:

  1. The organization, responsibility and control
  2. The learning environment and support systems
  3. Planning and instructional personnel
  4. Needs analysis
  5. Learning outcomes
  6. Content and instructional requirements
  7. Assessment of learning outcomes
  8. Maintenance of learner records
  9. Evaluation of learning outcomes

IACET is the only standard-setting organization approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for continuing education and training. And as ANSI has proudly served as administrator of the private sector voluntary standardization system for more than 100 years, thousands of organizations worldwide rely on the ANSI/IACET Standard to ensure quality in their educational programs.


Garfolo, B.T. & L’Huillier, B. (2015). Demystifying assessment: The road to accreditation. Retrieved from

Olivi, P. (2013). Institutional vs. programmatic accreditation. Radiologic Technology, 84(5), pp. 542-543.

U.S. Department of Education. (2006). 1998 amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1965. Retrieved from

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