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Accreditation Information

Many prospective safety, health, and environmental students contact ASSE with questions about accreditation. Although accreditation has been important in higher education for over a century, the variety of types of accreditation combined with the prevalence of fraudulent internet-based degree programs has made understanding and identifying accredited institutions and programs confusing for prospective students.  ASSE can help you make informed decisions as you pursue your SH&E education – one of the biggest financial and career decisions you may ever make.

What is accreditation and why does it matter?

Accreditation is a process of internal and external quality review used by higher education to scrutinize colleges, universities, and programs to ensure they meet certain quality standards.

Accrediting agencies may accredit either institutions or individual programs (i.e., ABET). Institutions can be either regionally or nationally accredited.

Some institutions may not be accredited by an agency approved by the US Department of Education and/or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). It is highly recommended to avoid investing in an education at any such institution, as you may run into problems later on in your academic and professional career. For example, you may not be able to receive student financial assistance and any credits earned will not be transferable. The Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) does not allow applicants with unaccredited degree sit for certification examination.

Regional Institutional Accreditation

  • Granted mostly to academic non-profit “brick and mortar” institutions, though many safety programs at regionally accredited institutions offer quality online degree options for students.
  • Generally considered to be more rigorous than national accreditation and viewed more favorably by employers.
  • Performed by any of the six regional accreditation agencies in the United States recognized by the US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

National accreditation

  • Granted mostly to for-profit institutions that offer vocational, career, or technical programs.
  • Less stringent standards for criteria, including faculty qualifications.
  • An option for students not interested in pursuing a master’s degree or transferring credits to a regionally accredited institution.
  • Frequently awarded by Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), recognized by the US Department of Education and CHEA.

Program Accreditation

  • Awarded to individual programs proving they meet a level of quality assurance that they have met certain standards necessary to produce graduates ready to enter their professions.
  • ASSE works with ABET, an organization that accredits applied science, tech, and engineering programs, to establish learning outcomes for associates, bachelors, and master’s degrees.
  • ABET accreditation is considered the gold standard in safety, EHS and IH education.
  • Professional benefits:
    • Students graduating from ABET-accredited safety programs meet BCSP standards for participating in the Graduate Safety Practitioner (GSP) program, which is a fast track to the Certified Safety Professional (CSP) credential.
    • Graduates who receive the GSP receive a waiver of, and do not sit for, the Safety Fundamentals Examination. 

A list of ABET-accredited safety and related programs is available from ASSE and on www.abet.org. A list of online ABET-accredited programs is available here.

Understanding Diploma Mills

Diploma mills sell degrees for money – some openly, others pretending to be legitimate schools luring in students with promises of obtaining a degree in a few weeks or months. 

To check to see whether a prospective institution is a diploma mill, check the US Department of Education or CHEA website to see if the school is accredited by a recognized organization. Some states have laws prohibiting unaccredited degrees.

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