What Does IT Mean if an Engineering Major Is ABET Accredited?

If you're wondering whether an engineering program meets a high standard of quality, you might check to see if it holds ABET accreditation. As an accrediting organization, ABET defines quality standards for engineering programs and accredits only those that meet these standards. Schools offering Computer Engineering degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

About ABET

Programs that are accredited by ABET (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) have been thoroughly evaluated and found to meet agreed-upon quality standards for the engineering profession. The organization only offers specialized accreditation for engineering, computing, technology and applied science programs; they do not accredit entire schools. If you're unsure about a program's accreditation status or want to see a list of ABET-accredited programs, you may do so by visiting ABET's website (www.abet.org).

Important Facts About ABET Accredited Engineering Majors

Common Courses Mathematics, chemistry, physics, statistics
Degree Levels Associate's, bachelor's, and master's degree
Online Availability Fully through select institutions
Possible Careers Staff engineer, computer programmer, program manager, software engineer

How ABET Accredits Programs

A program must request an evaluation from ABET. Once they have undergone a self-evaluation and a visit from an ABET evaluation team, an ABET committee decides to grant or deny accreditation. If granted, the accreditation is good for up to six years. Typical evaluation areas include how well students are taught to analyze information, recognize ethical and professional responsibility, use modern engineering methods and apply the knowledge they have learned. When you attend a program that has achieved ABET accreditation, you're attending a program that has shown success in these and other areas.

Why ABET Accreditation is Important

As an engineering student, you'll need to know more than just math or science. You'll also need to be ready to enter an engineering position or proceed to graduate-level education. An accreditation from ABET ensures that a program will prepare you to do either of these things. In fact, some graduate programs will require you to have received a bachelor's degree from an ABET-accredited program. Accreditation also shows parents that a program has merit and helps push the administrators and teachers involved in the program to grow and improve. Keep in mind that ABET does not rank programs, nor does the lack of ABET accreditation necessarily mean that a program is substandard.

Licensing

Perhaps the most important reason to choose an ABET-accredited program is due to state licensing requirements. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, you'll need to attend a degree program that is accredited by ABET before you can be licensed as a professional engineer (www.bls.gov). If you'd like to hold some other position in the engineering field, such as that of an engineering technician, you might not need a license and won't have to meet this requirement.

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