The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality. Accreditation in the United States involves non-governmental entities as well as governmental agencies. Accrediting agencies, which are private educational associations of regional or national scope, develop evaluation criteria and conduct peer evaluations to assess whether or not those criteria are met. Institutions and/or programs that request an agency's evaluation and that meet an agency's criteria are then considered accredited by that agency.

Accreditation is generally divided into two segments: institutional accreditation and specialized accreditation. Institutional accreditation normally applies to an entire institution, indicating that each of an institution's parts is contributing to the achievement of the institution's objectives, although not necessarily all at the same level of quality. Institutional accrediting agencies are further divided into regional accreditors, which accredit most of the public and some private institutions in a specific section of the United States, and national accreditors, which accredit many private vocational schools and colleges regardless of location.


Specialized or programmatic accreditation normally applies to programs, departments, or schools that are parts of an institution. The accredited unit may be as large as a college or school within a university or as small as a curriculum within a discipline. Most of the specialized or programmatic accrediting agencies review units within an institution of higher education that is accredited by one of the institutional accrediting commissions. However, certain accrediting agencies also accredit professional schools and other specialized or vocational institutions of higher education that are free-standing in their operations. Thus, a specialized or programmatic accrediting agency may also function in the capacity of an institutional accrediting agency.


In order to be sure the accrediting group is reliable, you should be sure the accreditation is granted by an association recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. The U.S. Department of Education does not accredit educational institutions and/or programs. However, the Secretary of Education is required by law to publish a list of nationally recognized accrediting agencies that the Secretary determines to be reliable authorities as to the quality of education or training provided by the institutions of higher education and the higher education programs they accredit. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is a private nonprofit national organization that coordinates accreditation activities in the United States. CHEA is the only nongovernmental higher education organization that formally scrutinizes and certifies the quality of accrediting organizations.

The USDE developed a tool to assist students and parents in identifying recognized accrediting agencies as well as accredited schools and programs titled the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs (DAPIP).  Access the database by clicking here.


The following is a list of some of the recognized accrediting agencies that accredit institutions operating in Missouri.

Institutional Accrediting Agencies:

Accrediting Bureau of Heath Education Schools (ABHES)
7777 Leesburg Pike, Suite 314N
Falls Church, VA 22043
Telephone: (703) 917-9503
Fax: (703) 917-4109

Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET)
1722 N Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
Telephone: (202) 955-1113
Fax: (202) 955-1118

Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
2101 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 302
Arlington, VA 22201
Telephone: (703) 247-4212
Fax: (703) 247-4533

Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE)
5850 T. G. Lee Blvd., Suite 130
Orlando, FL 32822
Telephone: (407) 207-0808
Fax: (407) 207-0840

Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS)
10 Summit Park Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15275-1110
Telephone: (412) 788-6505
Fax: (412) 788-6510

Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA)
2101 Wilson Blvd., Suite 302
Arlington, VA 22201
Telephone: (202) 888-6790
Fax: (202) 888-6787

Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
1101 17th Street NW, Suite 808
Washington, DC 20036
Telephone: (202) 234-5100
Fax: (202) 332-1386

The Higher Learning Commission (NC)
230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
Chicago, IL 60604
Telephone: (800) 621-7440
Fax: (312) 263-7462

New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NE)
3 Burlington Woods Drive, Suite 100
Bedford, MA 01803
Telephone: (781) 425-7700
Fax: (781) 425-1001

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SA)
Commission on Colleges
1866 Southern Lane
Decatur, GA 30033
Telephone: (404) 679-4500
Fax: (404) 679-4558

Specialized or Programmatic Accrediting Agencies:

Accrediting Bureau for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET)
415 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Telephone: (410) 347-7700
Fax: (410) 625-2238

Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE)
American Occupational Therapy Association
4720 Montgomery Lane Suite 200
Bethesda, MD 20814
Telephone: (301) 652-6611, ext. 2042
Fax: (301) 652-7711

Commission on Dental Accreditation
211 East Chicago Avenue, Suite 1900
Chicago, IL 60611
Telephone: (800) 621-8099
Fax: (312) 440-2915

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
25400 US Highway 19 North, Suite 158
Clearwater, FL 33763
Telephone: (727) 210-2350
Fax: (727) 210-2354 

Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
1001 North Fairfax Street, Suite 510
Alexandria, VA 22314
Telephone: (703) 535-5990
Fax: (703) 739-6209