Accreditation Info

Masters in Teaching Accreditation

One important thing you may do when selecting a master's in teaching program is to look at the issue of the school's accreditation. With a graduate degree in education there are two levels of accreditation you might concern yourself with; they include overall accreditation of the university and in addition, accreditation of the education or teaching degree program that is made available at the master's degree level. Here is a brief look at both issues.

University accreditation has a long history that has evolved a somewhat convoluted accreditation process. There are dozens of accrediting organizations in the United States but the only ones that matter are those that are approved by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) or by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The reason there are two oversight organizations for this process is that the DOE chose to limit its accreditation to organizations and institutions that are eligible for federally financed student loans. CHEA was founded in 1996 to set standards for accreditation outside the federal umbrella and today has 3,000 member schools and sixty institutional and programmatic accrediting institutions.

University Accreditation

The principal recognized organizations for university and college accreditation are six regional bodies that do periodic visits and assessments of universities and issue accreditation for a specific period of time. Those are commissions that are divided into Associations of Colleges and Schools for the Middle States, New England States, North Central States, Northwestern States, Southern States, and Western States.

Accreditation for all colleges and universities including online schools and for-profit institutions may start there. In addition there are accrediting bodies for online institutions, for occupational schools, for continuing education programs and for faith based schools and for health education schools.

The Department of Education provides a list of web addresses that may lead you to sites for these organizations and lists of their approved schools.

Program Accreditation

There are numerous accrediting organizations that are focused on academic specialties. These organizations must be recognized by the DOE or by CHEA in order to be credible in the eyes of academic professionals and in the view of human resources professionals when they are reviewing a resume. There are accrediting agencies for nursing schools, schools of public health, social work, mathematics, business, law, and so on. It is important to understand that there are also accrediting agencies for popular programs such as the MBA and nursing that are not recognized by the DOE and CHEA. You may be misled by schools that claim accreditation from organizations that may have no legitimate standing.

Some universities may have achieved accreditation as institutions of higher learning, but may have departments or degree programs that have not yet been accredited. That may be true for legitimate schools which have recently introduced new degrees and are awaiting accreditation - a process that may take many months if not years. So the second level of accreditation for a master's in teaching that you should research is accreditation for the degree and the school of education. This is especially important for a teaching degree because a degree from an unaccredited school may not allow you to apply for a state teaching license.

There are two principal accrediting agencies for teaching degrees. Those are the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC). The two organizations are currently discussing merger, but at present are still functioning separately. TEAC is a relatively recent arrival, recognized by the DOE in 2003. A master's in teaching program recognized by either may be a credible degree. There is a list of NCATE approved programs on their website.

For the broadest possible view for accreditation of a school of education within a university or a degree program is the CHEA database where you may search by school, by degree, and by accrediting body. CHEA lists programs that are recognized by the DOE and by their own process of accreditation.

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