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Answers to commonly asked questions about Technical and Career School/Center Accreditation

Are there different kinds of accreditation?

In the U.S., schools and colleges voluntarily seek accreditation from nongovernmental bodies. There are two types of educational accreditation: institutional and specialized (or programmatic).

Institutional accreditation is provided by regional and national associations. There are six regional associations. The regional associations are independent of one another, but they cooperate extensively and acknowledge one another’s accreditation. Several national associations focus on particular kinds of institutions (for example, technical or religious colleges). An institutional accrediting agency evaluates the institution as a whole, applying the standards in light of the institution’s mission. Besides assessing educational programs, it evaluates areas such as governance and administration, financial stability, physical resources, library and technology, admissions, and student services. Institutional accreditation encompasses the entire institution.

Specialized or programmatic accreditation evaluates particular schools or programs within an institution. Specialized accreditation is often associated with national professional associations such as those for engineering, medicine, and law, or with specific disciplines such as business, teacher education, and nursing.

What is the difference between accreditation and state licensure?

In order to protect students and the public, many states have established regulations that must be met before an educational institution may operate. To operate legally, an institution needs state approval, which may include licensure. In fact, an institution must have the appropriate state authorization to operate before it can seek accreditation. But in most states, institutions do not have to be accredited to operate. (Some states require institutions to be accredited by a DOE-recognized accreditor.)

Accreditation is voluntary. It represents an institution’s willingness to abide by the Standards and to open itself regularly to examination by outside evaluators familiar with education. As such accreditation is recognized as a symbol of accountability to the public.

Can a U.S. institution be governmentally accredited?

No. In the U.S., accreditation is handled through non-governmental agencies, many of which are recognized by the federal government as reliable authorities on the quality of education. Only institutions accredited by those agencies are authorized to participate in federal Title IV funding (student financial aid). A list of the Department of Education’s nationally-recognized accrediting agencies can be found at the website below:

U.S. DOE/Regional and National Institutional Accrediting Agencies 

Who is on the Committee on Technical and Career Institutions?

The Committee consists of faculty and senior administrators from member institutions, as well as representatives of the public who have worked outside education. Commissioners are elected by the membership and may serve two three-year terms. Public members may serve two two-year terms. Commissioners’ perspectives are informed by their own experience and knowledge of education. They are bound by explicit ethical standards to prevent conflict of interest.  A list of Commissioners who currently serve on the Committee on Technical and Career Institutions is available.

Who are the peer evaluators who visit schools under review?

CTCI maintains a database of more than 2,000 experienced educators from technical schools who have volunteered for this important task. They are carefully selected and trained to evaluate institutions according to the Standards.

Does NEASC accredit the professional program at my institution?

NEASC accredits institutions, not programs. Therefore, if the institution is accredited by NEASC, then that status encompasses the entire institution. For information about whether the program has specialized (or programmatic) accreditation, consult the institution or the accreditor in that field.


I’m applying for a job and have to prove that I graduated from an accredited institution. Can you help me?

Contact the registrar of your institution, who can validate its accreditation status and provide proof that you received your certificate/diploma or degree.

How can I get a copy of an institution’s evaluation report or self-study?

The Commission does not release institutional reports or correspondence. Some institutions post their reports and self-studies on their websites. If you have an interest in a particular institution's evaluation report or self-study, contact the chief executive officer of the institution.

Does accreditation guarantee that my credits can be transferred?

No. Every institution retains the right to determine what credits and degrees it will accept. Transferability of credits depends on a number of factors, including accreditation, curriculum compatibility, and grades. Institutions are required under CTCI's Standards to have clear transfer policies and to make those policies available to you. If you have questions about whether your credits or degrees will be accepted, check with the Registrar or Admissions office of the school to which you intend to apply.

What happens to my records if my school closes?

The closing institution arranges with the state department of education or other appropriate agency to file all academic records as well as financial aid information. You should receive a notice from the school about arrangements made for filing student records. Begin further inquiries by contacting the education agency in the state where the institution was authorized to operate. If the college merges with another institution, that institution will receive the records. If you need further assistance, contact a member of the CTCI staff.