What is


Accreditation is the review of the quality of higher education institutions and programs. In the United States, accreditation is a major way that students, families, government officials, and the press know that an institution or program provides quality education.
Whether a college, university, or program is accredited is important:
  • Students who want federal (and sometimes state) grants and loans need to attend a college, university, or program that is accredited.
  • Employers ask if a college, university, or program is accredited before deciding to provide tuition assistance to current employees, evaluating the credentials of new employees, or making a charitable contribution.
  • The federal government requires that a college, university, or program be accredited in order to be eligible for federal grants and loans or other federal funds.
  • State governments require that a college, university, or program be accredited when they make state funds available to students or institutions and when they allow students to sit for state licensure examinations in some professional fields.


Colleges, universities, and programs are accredited. In the U.S., colleges and universities are accredited by one of 19 recognized institutional accrediting organizations. Programs are accredited by one of approximately 60 recognized programmatic accrediting organizations. [Accrediting organizations that are “recognized” have been reviewed for quality by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (IOQE) or the United States Department of Education (USDE).]

The IOQE Database of Institutions and Programs Accredited by Recognized United States Accrediting Organizations contains information about more than 8,200 institutions and 20,000 programs in the U.S. Links to the Websites of these colleges and universities are also available.


In the U.S., the accreditors are private, nongovernmental organizations created for the specific purpose of reviewing higher education institutions and programs for quality. In most other countries, accreditation (or quality assurance) is carried out by government organizations.


IOQE is a vigorous advocate for accreditation through its government relations function, representing to the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Department of Education and the states the interests of member institutions in matters related to self-regulation, accreditation, and quality assurance.
IOQE provides a major national forum for accreditation deliberations, bringing together institutions, accrediting organizations, and policy leaders in conferences and workshops to address emerging and challenging accreditation-related issues in higher education.