CHEA at a Glance

Council for Higher Education Accreditation

Accreditation Serving the Public Interest

A national advocate and institutional voice for promoting academic quality through accreditation, CHEA is an association of 3,000 degree-granting colleges and universities and recognizes 60 institutional and programmatic accrediting organizations.

CHEA At A Glance

  • Largest institutional higher education membership organization in the United States, with approximately 3,000 degree-granting colleges and universities.
  • Sixty recognized institutional and programmatic accrediting organizations.
  • Governed by a 20-person board of college and university presidents, institutional representatives and public members.

CHEA Purposes


  • A primary national voice for accreditation and quality assurance to the U.S. Congress and U.S. Department of Education.
  • A primary national voice for accreditation to the general public, opinion leaders, students, and families.
  • A representative of the U.S. accreditation community to international audiences.


  • National leader in identifying and articulating emerging issues in accreditation and quality assurance.
  • National forum to address issues of mutual interest and concern in accreditation.
  • Authoritative source of data and information about regional, faith-related, career-related and programmatic accreditors.
  • Projects and initiatives to strengthen accreditation and its role in serving the public interest.
  • Conferences and meetings.
  • Databases and directories of accredited institutions and programs and accreditation and quality assurance bodies.
  • Convener of international discussion of accreditation and quality assurance through the CHEA International Quality Group.


Recognition is the scrutiny and affirmation of the quality of regional, faith-related, career-related and programmatic accrediting organizations. CHEA is the only nongovernmental higher education organization in the United States that undertakes this scrutiny. The federal government, through the U.S. Department of Education, conducts governmental recognition reviews.

CHEA Recognition Standards

  • Advance academic quality. Accreditors have a clear description of academic quality and clear expectations that the institutions or programs they accredit have processes to determine whether quality standards are being met.
  • Demonstrate accountability. Accreditors have standards that call for institutions and programs to provide consistent, reliable information about academic quality and student achievement to foster continuing public confidence and investment.
  • Encourage, where appropriate, self scrutiny and planning for change and needed improvement. Accreditors encourage self scrutiny for change and needed improvement through ongoing self-examination in institutions and programs.
  • Employ appropriate and fair procedures in decision making. Accreditors maintain appropriate and fair organizational policies and procedures that include effective checks and balances.
  • Demonstrate ongoing review of accreditation practice. Accreditors undertake self scrutiny of their accrediting activities.
  • Possess sufficient resources. Accreditors have and maintain predictable and stable resources.

United States Accreditation

Accreditation in higher education is a collegial process of self-review and peer review for improvement of academic quality and public accountability of institutions and programs. This quality review process occurs on a periodic basis, usually every 3 to 10 years. Typically, it involves three major activities:

  • A self-study by an institution or program using the standards or criteria of an accrediting organization.
  • A peer review of an institution or program to gather evidence of quality
  • A decision or judgment by an accrediting organization to accredit, accredit with conditions or not accredit an institution or program.

CHEA Principles

CHEA's commitment to the coordination and improvement of quality review is based on seven principles. These principles provide the foundation for the CHEA mission statement, the organizational functions described in the CHEA Bylaws and the CHEA Recognition Policy.

  • Quality Assurance. CHEA will apply its recognition standards and sustain ongoing review of its participating accrediting organizations to assure high quality of organizational performance.
  • Leadership. CHEA will provide thoughtful leadership to formulate issues related to quality assurance; to develop needed tools and strategies to sustain the value of quality assurance to institutions, accreditors and students; and to advance change and needed improvement in quality assurance in higher education.
  • Advocacy. CHEA will be a forceful and articulate advocate for voluntary accreditation of higher education to the public, government and other interested individuals, groups and countries.
  • Service. CHEA will consistently provide high-quality research, policy analysis and service to its member institutions, accrediting organizations, students and the public.
  • Core Values. CHEA will maintain the core academic values central to higher education and quality assurance. These include, for example, the values of general education, collegiality and academic freedom.
  • Independence. CHEA will be an independent and authoritative voice for the strengthening of accreditation to strengthen higher education.
  • Inclusion. CHEA will sustain an environment of active consultation and participation among its member institutions and participating organizations, as well as encourage cooperation and exchange throughout the higher education and quality assurance communities.

(Adopted by CHEA Board of Directors, January 2000)