What Does Regional Accreditation for a College Degree Program Mean?

College degree program accreditation is important for credibility, quality assurance and various forms of tuition assistance. Since no federal organization has ever been created to accredit colleges and universities, regional accreditation is used to determine the quality of college degree programs. Read on to find out what regional accreditation for a college degree program means.

Regional Accreditation Agencies

Regional accreditation means that a college degree program has been assessed and determined to meet educational standards and public expectations. The list below reveals the six regional accreditation agencies recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (www.chea.org) and the U.S. Department of Education (www.ed.gov):

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Important Facts About Regionally Accredited Programs

Degree Levels Associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees available
Prerequisites Varies, depending upon intended institution for enrollment; associate and bachelor degree programs typically require a high school diploma, or equivalent
Fields of Study Accounting, healthcare management, software development, nursing, education, business administration
Online Availability Fully online curricula are offered

Regional Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges

The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (www.neasc.org) looks for compliance with standards, sufficient school resources and degree program integrity. Regional Accreditation from NEASC is provided in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

Regional Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (www.msche.org) evaluates, among other aspects, student learning and teaching effectiveness. This organization covers schools located in Delaware, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. It also covers schools in the American territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

Regional Accreditation: AdvancED

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools are part of a parent organization known as AdvancED (www.advanc-ed.org). This regional accreditation covers the needs of schools in 30 states and is based on standards established by this group. Standards areas include school vision, teaching, resources, leadership and a commitment to improvement.

Regional Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Student expectations, curriculum and instruction are addressed in accreditation standards established by the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools (www.northwestaccreditation.org). Schools in Utah, Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada and Montana are evaluated for regional accreditation.

Regional Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (www.wascweb.org and www.wascsenior.org) provides regional accreditation for schools in Hawaii and California. All aspects of schools, not just degree programs, are evaluated in the regional accreditation process.

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