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Accreditation ABCs

Who Cares and Why?


Education programs serve the public interest as well as the interest of those who create and maintain them. Capable and successful students who master a quality course of study are likely to become capable and successful practitioners; some will go on to be leaders in their chosen professions; some will go on to become educators in these professions. Accreditation is one instrument by which the society at large maintains and, over time, improves and modernizes health services.

Accreditation serves as one highly-regarded indicator of educational quality; your program's accreditation status not only provides a quick indicator to anyone in search of a quality program, but it assures the public that a third party is carefully watching over educational practices.

Historically, accreditation Standards are published. All the CAAHEP Standards can be found on the
CAAHEP website. When new or revised Standards are under discussion, these are publicly available and sometimes members of the public will comment or testify.

Confidentiality of the Accreditation Process

But the most frequently sought information, by the public, is whether (or not) a program is accredited. Historically, that fact - that your program is accredited - is the only information that is made public from the accreditation process. Otherwise, confidentiality protects the process. The list of all currently CAAHEP-accredited programs is found on the CAAHEP website. Checking to find accredited programs, or to assure that a program is accredited, is the most frequent use by the public at large of the CAAHEP website. The list on the CAAHEP website of accredited programs is consulted tens-of-thousands of times each year. [Also, annually, the American Medical Association publishes The Health Care Careers Directory which catalogs accredited education programs in all health care professions.]

While it is true that, historically, and for the most part still today, complete confidentiality is an operating principle of your program's accreditation, you should know that trends in recent decades toward openness and consumer protection have, in some places, by state law or institutional custom, made some documents from the inner workings of the accreditation process available upon request. You should be aware of what public disclosure, if any, is required in your particular state and institution. Ask officials of your school, consult your institution's policies, or ask your Committee on Accreditation (CoA).

CAAHEP's policies about confidentiality of the accreditation process are found in the CAAHEP Policies and Procedures Manual.


Making the transition from your educational program into the workforce - getting a job - is the practical goal of most of your students.

In some professions, graduating from an accredited program is a requirement. In others, it is merely wise, since employers and others may frown upon job candidates from non-accredited programs. Also, graduating from an accredited program supports a practitioner's mobility from one state to another in the United States, because the requirements for employment vary from state to state. A student who graduates from a non-accredited program may be able to find work in the state where the education program exists; but, too often practitioners are shocked to find that other states will not accept their credentials because those states require graduation from an accredited program.

Accreditation is an assurance, to beginning students, that the course of study and learning experience they are about to participate in have been reviewed by a third party who assures that Standards for education in their chosen profession have been met.

When students enter an accredited program and find, to their dismay, that the program is not living up to those Standards, they have the opportunity to file complaints with the CoA for their profession and with CAAHEP. Generally, student complaints are reviewed by and may be investigated by the appropriate CoA, and complaints can be a factor in recommendations that a CoA makes to CAAHEP about a program's accreditation status.

The good news is, most accredited programs do their job well and generate few if any student complaints..



Professions are motivated to assure that the next generation of practitioners is well-educated. It reflects poorly on any profession's public credibility and trust, and every working professional's public credibility and trust, when bad things happen and are publicized that can be traced to poorly trained staff.

Also, competently trained individuals may require less on-the-job training.

In so many health care institutions, the spectre of public scandal and the burden of malpractice lawsuits hang in the air. It makes sense for organized professions to strive to reduce the likelihood and frequency of these events by insisting upon quality education for new employees.

These reasons explain why working professionals often volunteer to participate in the accreditation process, and to serve on advisory boards and in other roles within educational programs. And these reasons explain why, historically and today, professions have led the effort to create accrediting bodies and to support them through fees and through representation in the leadership.

Read how
the Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) describes the importance of accreditation.

Read testimonials to the importance of accreditation.