Accreditation at Oregon State University



Accreditation is a process of recognizing educational institutions for performance, integrity, and quality that entitles them to the confidence of the educational community and the public. In the United States this recognition is extended largely through nongovernmental, voluntary institutional or professional associations that have responsibility for establishing criteria, visiting and evaluating institutions at their requests, and approving those institutions and programs that meet their criteria.

In American postsecondary education, accreditation performs a number of important functions, including the encouragement of efforts toward maximum educational effectiveness. The accrediting process requires institutions and programs to examine their own goals, operations, and achievements, and then provides the expert criticism and suggestions of a visiting evaluation committee, and, later, the recommendations of the accrediting body. Since the accreditation is reviewed periodically, institutions are encouraged toward continued self-study and improvement.

Institutional accreditation is granted by the regional accrediting commissions or the associations of schools and colleges that together cover institutions chartered and/or licensed in the United States and its possessions. These commissions or associations accredit total operating units only, not parts of them.

Specialized accreditation of professional schools and programs is granted by a number of national organizations, each representing a professional area such as architecture, law, medicine, or social work. Though each of these organizations has its distinctive definitions of eligibility, criteria for accreditation, and operating procedures, most of them have undertaken accreditation as one means of protecting the public against professional incompetence.

While the procedures of the regional accrediting bodies differ somewhat in detail to allow for regional variations, their rules of eligibility, basic policies, and levels of expectation are similar. Given these variations in detail, accreditation at the postsecondary level is intended to fulfill the following purposes:

  1. foster excellence in postsecondary education through the development of criteria and guidelines for assessing educational effectiveness;

  2. encourage institutional improvement of educational endeavors through continuous self-study and evaluation;

  3. ensure the educational community, the general public, and other agencies or organizations that an institution has clearly defined and appropriate educational objectives, has established conditions under which their achievement can reasonably be expected, appears in fact to be accomplishing them substantially, and is so organized, staffed, and supported that it can be expected to continue to do so; and

  4. provide counsel and assistance to established and developing institutions.

| Handbook | Contents | Glossary | OSU | Updated: Nov. 6, 1999 |