An Overview of the Accreditation and the Difference between APA Accreditation and Institutional Accreditation
Earning a degree in today’s busy and fast-paced world is a great challenge, especially for working adults and professionals. It is doubtless an investment in your future in that you spend a lot of your time, money and energy on it. And to ensure you get maximum returns on this costly investment, you should choose a university that is accredited and recognized by a reputed accrediting agency.
What is Accreditation?
You must have heard quite a lot about accreditation but do you really know what it means?
In simple words, accreditation means that an educational program or school meets the defined standards of quality set by an accrediting body. The accrediting body assesses the programs and the school to ensure that they meet the defined standards. Schools that pass this assessment receive the accreditation status as a staple of being accredited.
How is accreditation important to you? Accreditation provides an assurance that a particular program or school is of good quality and can be trusted for your education.
These days, accreditation has become a decisive factor whether your degree will be accepted or not. Whether you are applying for higher education or for a job, your credentials are checked to ensure that they are accredited by a renowned accrediting body.
Difference between APA Accreditation and Institutional Accreditation
APA (American Psychological Association) Commission on Accreditation is a type of professional or specialized accreditation. Specialized or Programmatic accreditation only encompasses the professional standards of specific program, department, unit or a school that is a subset of a big institution. That is why APA accreditation only caters to some specific doctoral graduate programs, pre-doctoral internships and postdoctoral residencies in professional psychology. That means that if a specific program offered by a department/institution is accredited by APA; it doesn’t mean that the other programs of the same department or institution will also be accredited.
On the other hand, institutional or regional accreditation encompasses the whole institution. There are six regional accrediting bodies in the United States, and each is authorized to accredit institutions in specific states, divided by geographic region.
For an educational program to be completely accredited it must be offered by an institution having regional accreditation. However, an institution may have regional accreditation and not have specialized accreditation for its programs.
Given below are some other differences between the institutional accreditation and specialized accreditation.
1. Type of Accrediting Body
Institutional Accreditation for any school is carried out by the regional or national accreditation agencies. On the other hand, there are specialized accreditors for the programmatic accreditation.
2. Type of Review
For institutional accreditation, the assessment and review process covers the academic and organizational framework, educational systems and how the different units of the institution contribute to its overall reputation.
Specialized accreditation applies to a specific program, department, unit or school that are a subdivision of an institution. The unit can be as large as a school or college within a university or as small as a specific program, discipline or professional field.
3. Accreditation Standards
For institutional accreditation, standards have been designed after gathering the professional advice, recommendations and guidance from different constituencies.
For the case of specialized accreditation, the accreditation standards for a specific area of study, program or unit are set after discussion with the professional experts of that field and with other constituencies.
4. Accreditation Assessors
For institutional accreditation the accreditation review is conducted by educational experts who have thorough knowledge about the education provided by the institution at all levels and professionals having expertise in academic management.
For specialized accreditation, the review is conducted by academics and professionals with thorough knowledge in the specific area of study that is being assessed.
5. Accreditation Review guarantees
For institutional accreditation, the review is conducted to make sure that the institution carries out its mission and goals in the best way possible and that there is a defined set of policies and procedures for the institution that are being followed.
For specialized or programmatic accreditation, the review makes sure that a specific program of study fulfils the content standards. Moreover, it is also checked whether the program is offered by a knowledgeable faculty and the institution offering the program has sufficient resources. The program offering unit/school should also adhere to the goals, mission, policies and procedures as set by the larger institution.
6. Adverse Actions
For institutional accreditation- Adverse actions against the institution are handled by the programmatic or specialized accrediting bodies that accredit the programs within that institution.
For specialized accreditation- Adverse actions against a program are assessed by the accrediting body of the whole institution.