Accreditation Information

Overview

Many prospective safety, health, & environmental students contact ASSE with questions about accreditation. Although accreditation has been important in higher education for over a century, the development of accreditation mills and fraudulent internet-based degree programs has made identifying accredited programs even more confusing for prospective students. Whether you are pursuing a traditional on-campus degree or an online degree, ASSE has the resources you need to help you identify legitimate institutions of higher education.

What is Accreditation?

Accreditation is a process of external quality review created and used by higher education to scrutinize colleges, universities and programs for quality assurance and quality improvement.

What is an Unaccredited Degree?

One way a degree may be considered unaccredited is if the accreditation body is not approved by the US Department of Education and The Council on Higher Education Accreditation. There are accreditation organizations that do not meet the standards established by these organizations and thus, they are not recognized as legitimate accreditation bodies.

Another way a school may be unaccredited is if they have not sought national or regional accreditation from a legitimate accrediting body.

There are three basic kinds of accreditation:

- National accreditation
- Regional accreditation
- Specialized and professional accreditation

National and regional accreditation are mechanisms to establish institutional accreditation. Why does this matter? If you attend an institution that has not received either national or regional accreditation, you may run into problems later in your academic and professional career. An unaccredited degree means that you will not be able to receive student financial assistance and you will not be able to transfer credits if you decide to transfer to an accredited school later in your academic career. If you ever intend to pursue CSP or ASP certification, you will find that the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) will not allow you to sit for the certification examination if you have a degree from an unaccredited institution.

Regional Accreditation

There are regional accrediting organizations out there whose purpose is to ensure the quality and integrity of colleges and universities in specific regions of the country by performing a comprehensive review of all institutional functions. Regional accreditation organizations are generally considered to carry more weight than national accreditation organizations. Legitimate regional accrediting organizations are recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.

The question to ask a prospective school: Is this school regionally accredited and if so, by whom?

What to do with the answer: Go to the CHEA website and make sure that the accrediting organization is recognized. That way, you will know that the accreditation is legitimate.

Specialized and Professional Accreditation

Enrolling in a program (such as a bachelor’s degree in Occupational Safety and Health) that has program-specific accreditation is a great value-ad for your academic career. Attending a school with an accredited program means that an organization specializing in your subject area has evaluated the program’s curriculum and infrastructure and has given it their stamp of approval.

If you plan on majoring in an ASSE-related degree program, it’s beneficial to attend a school that has been accredited by the American Board of Engineering Technology or ABET. ASSE has worked with the ABET-ASAC commission to develop criteria for safety-related degree programs that achieve a set of standards established my members of the safety profession. To employers, graduate schools, certification, and registration boards, graduation from an ABET accredited program signifies adequate preparation for entry into the profession.

The question to ask a prospective school: Is the Occupational Safety and Health program ABET accredited?
What to do with the answer? Check the ABET website to confirm the accreditation status! www.abet.org.

National Accreditation

There are national accrediting organizations out there whose purpose is to ensure the quality and integrity of colleges and universities by performing a comprehensive review of all institutional functions. Legitimate national accrediting organizations are recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation and the US Department of Education.

The question to ask a prospective school: Is this school nationally accredited and if so, by whom?

What to do with the answer: Go to the CHEA website and make sure that the accrediting organization is recognized. That way, you will know that the accreditation is legitimate.

Understanding Diploma Mills

There are two kinds of diploma mills. Some diploma mills are honest with their “clients” and openly sell degrees for money. The diploma mill and the customer know the degrees are illegitimate. Other diploma mills, which are more dangerous to prospective students, pretend to be legitimate schools and allure students with promises of obtaining a degree in a few weeks or months.

If you are wondering whether a prospective school is considered to be a diploma mill, the first thing you need to do is check the US Department of Education or CHEA website to see if the school is accredited by a recognized organization. If the school is not listed in either of those two sources, you can visit the websites of states that have laws prohibiting the use of unaccredited degrees. These include:

Michiganhttp://www.michigan.gov/documents/Non-accreditedSchools_78090_7.pdf
Mainehttp://www.maine.gov/education/highered/Non-Accredited/UnaccreditedSchools-07-06-07.pdf
Oregonhttp://www.osac.state.or.us/oda/unaccredited.aspx
Texashttp://www.thecb.state.tx.us/AAR/PrivateInstitutions/NoTX.cfm

Resources

For a list of the organizations that perform national, regional, and program accreditation visit:
http://www.chea.org/pdf/CHEA_USDE_AllAccred.pdf

For general information on national and regional accreditation, visit:
Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) http://www.chea.org/
US Department of Education http://www.ed.gov/index.jhtml
Oregon Office of Degree Authorization http://www.osac.state.or.us/oda/

For information on SH&E-related program accreditation, visit:
Accreditation Board of Engineering Technology (ABET) http://www.abet.org

 
 

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