As part of their reviews of institutions and programs for academic quality, accrediting organizations take formal actions to grant, reaffirm, defer, deny or withdraw accreditation. They also issue show cause or probation orders. Accrediting organizations’ definitions of these terms may vary and CHEA is providing a general description of these actions for the purposes of this update.
For actions of the decision-making bodies of individual accrediting organizations that met during this time period, please CLICK HERE.
*CHEA is expanding its research of accreditation actions to include data on decisions to place an institution or program on notice or warning status, the number of appeals, and discrete data on show cause orders and probation orders. These data are included for November 2012 - December 2012 and thereafter.
Please contact individual accreditors for additional information about their specific definitions of these terms.
I. Accredited Institutions
Institutions are accredited by three types of accreditors: national faith-related organizations that accredit religiously affiliated and doctrinally based institutions that are primarily degree-granting and nonprofit; national career-related organizations that accredit mainly for-profit career-based degree-granting and non-degree-granting institutions; and regional organizations that accredit mainly nonprofit, degree-granting institutions. Eighteen (18) recognized institutional accrediting organizations accredited 7,818 institutions in 2010-2011.
Number of Institutions Accredited by National
Number of Institutions Accredited by
Number of Institutions Accredited by Regional Accrediting Organizations (3,050)
Regional Accrediting Organizations
*Includes American Samoa, Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Republic of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
**Includes Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Institutional Accreditation by Institutional Control, Degree- or Non-Degree-Granting StatusInstitutional accrediting organizations accredit more degree-granting institutions (4,921) than non-degree-granting (2,897) and an equal number of nonprofit institutions (3,909) and for-profit (3,909).
II. Students in Accredited Institutions
More than 24,900,000 students were enrolled in accredited institutions in 2010-2011. Regionally accredited institutions are home to more than 20,500,000 of these enrollees.
*Council on Occupational Education enrollments not included.
Number of Students in Institutions Accredited by Regional Accrediting Organizations in 2010-2011
Number of Students in Institutions Accredited by National Faith-Related Accrediting Organizations in 2010-2011
Number of Students in Institutions Accredited by National Career-Related Accrediting Organizations in 2010-2011
*COE reports full-time equivalent enrollment.
**COE enrollment not included.
Programmatic Accreditation by Degree- or Non-Degree-Granting Status, 2010-2011*
Programmatic AccreditationThe 62 recognized programmatic accrediting organizations accredit programs or free-standing institutions that enrolled more than 3.4 million students in 2010-2011. This figure indicates the date founded, number of schools or programs and number of students enrolled.
IV. Characteristics of Accrediting Organizations
Accrediting organizations employed more than 850 full- and part-time staff in 2010-2011 and reported operating budgets that totaled approximately $114,121,871. They worked with more than 20,000 volunteers who served on accreditation teams, commissions and task forces.
Number of Paid Employees and Accrediting Unit Operating Budget in 2010-2011
Number of Volunteers and Volunteer Financial Support in 2010-2011
Accrediting organizations rely on volunteers in the higher education community and the public to carry out the important function of peer review. In general, these volunteers are unpaid (other than reimbursement of expenses) and serve on visiting teams, accreditation decision-making bodies and other task forces or committees of accrediting organizations.
Formal Actions Taken by Accrediting Organizations, 2010-2011
Accrediting organizations take a range of formal actions when reviewing an institution or program for initial or continuing accreditation. This chart indicates the types and frequency of actions reported by accrediting organizations arrayed by type of organization. Accrediting organizations do not use a common set of definitions for these actions. Please contact individual accreditors for additional information about use of these terms.
Number and Location of Non-U.S. Institutions and Programs Operating Outside the United States and Accredited by Recognized U.S. Accrediting Organizations (as of December 2011)*
Forty-two (42) accrediting organizations were active in 70 countries outside the United States in 2010-2011, accrediting 857 non-U.S. operations.
*Includes institutions and programs in Guam and U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands
Number and Location of U.S. Institutions and Programs Operating Outside the United States and Accredited by Recognized U.S. Accrediting Organizations (as of December 2011)*
Twenty-one (21) accrediting organizations were active in 122 countries outside the United States in 2010-2011, accrediting 720 U.S. operations.
* ACBSP and IACBE reporting programs that operate in multiple countries.
Summary: Number of U.S. and Non-U.S. Institutions and Programs Operating Outside the United States and Accredited by Recognized U.S. Accrediting Organizations (as of December 2011)
Accrediting organizations are "recognized" or scrutinized for quality by either the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the United States Department of Education (USDE). This periodic review is based on the standards established by CHEA or USDE for this purpose.
Accrediting Organizations Recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the U.S. Department of Education (as of December 2011)*
Accrediting Organizations Recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the U.S. Department of Education or Both (as of December 2011)*
Recognized Accrediting Organizations
This chart lists regional, national faith-related, national career-related and programmatic accreditors that are or have been recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) or both. Organizations identified by (•) are recognized; (–) indicates those not currently recognized. An asterisk (*) identifies accrediting organizations that were formerly recognized.
CHEA-recognized organizations must meet CHEA eligibility standards (www.chea.org/pdf/Recognition_Policy-June_28_2010-FINAL.pdf). Accreditors exercise independent judgment about whether to seek CHEA recognition. For USDE recognition, accreditation from the organization is used by an institution or program to establish eligibility to participate in federal student aid or other federal programs (www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/index.html). Some accreditors cannot be considered for USDE recognition because they do not provide access to federal funds. Other accreditors have chosen not to pursue USDE recognition.
Because CHEA affiliation and USDE recognition depend on a range of factors, readers are strongly cautioned against making judgments about the quality of an accrediting organization and its institutions and programs based solely on CHEA or USDE status. Additional inquiry is essential. If you have questions about the CHEA or USDE recognition status of an accreditor, please contact the accrediting organization.