The college research process can be incredibly overwhelming, with so many options to consider. A small private school or a large state school? What about living on campus versus living off campus? How will post-graduate or adult education fit into your current stage in life? The list goes on and on.
One element many may not consider is the importance of accreditation. Knowing the type of accreditation of a desired school can have very serious and real implications for the future. Here are three important facts about college accreditation.
What is accreditation?
According to the U.S. Department of Education, “Accreditation is the recognition that an institution maintains standards requisite for its graduates to gain admission to other reputable institutions of higher learning or to achieve credentials for professional practice. The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality.” College accreditation is provided by accrediting agencies that create, establish and implement the standards for educational institutions across the country. Their findings are publicly announced, so students can research schools to make sure they’re up to par on accreditation.
Two types of accreditation exist: institutional (meaning it applies to the entire college or institute) and specialized or programmatic (meaning it applies to a specific program or department). For example, Lancaster Bible College | Capital Seminary & Graduate School has specialized accreditation through the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) and by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COMSA). Furthermore, LBC | Capital is institutionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE). Accreditation from ABHE is an important distinction for LBC | Capital, as it emphasizes differentiators such as being missionally focused and biblically integrated.
Why does accreditation matter?
Having a college degree from an accredited college or university makes a big difference for all students at all levels: associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. When schools violate the standards of an accrediting agency, that agency will issue a warning—a probationary period in which the school can work to reverse the situation that caused the warning and probation. If the school is unable to correct course, it will lose its accreditation standing. Factors that can contribute to losing accreditation include having too few faculty members for the size of its student body or having instructors without the necessary educational backgrounds.
Once a school loses accreditation, it is no longer eligible to receive federal and state funding, which is a significant income source for many institutions. Thus, losing accreditation may force a college or university to close its doors.
Does accreditation matter for my major or program?
It is also important to note that accreditation is vital for education majors, as well as others. For example, those desiring to become educators must be certified in the state where they hope to teach. This can also become an issue when students holding a bachelor’s degree from a university without accreditation apply to graduate programs. Many graduate schools and seminaries will only allow admission to students holding accredited degrees. Likewise, the licensure/accreditation connection is expanding to fields of study such as accounting, counseling and social work. Learn more about Professional Licensure and Certification here.
These facts about accreditation should be an important consideration in the college search. Those who research, apply or transfer to LBC | Capital can rest assured that accreditation is a crucial part of upholding the educational standards the college has held since 1933.