National Accreditors

There are 52 recognized national accrediting bodies. The national accreditors include a variety of religious, professional, and vocational accreditors, and get their name from their common policy of accrediting schools nationwide or even worldwide. Requirements for accreditation vary from each national accreditor according to the specialty.

In general terms, the national accreditators may be divided into those that accredit academic programs leading to a degree, those that accredit vocational programs leading to preparation for a career, and those that offer specialized and professional accreditation as an add-on to other accreditation.

The major national accreditors for academic programs include the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) for nationally accredited distant learning institutions, and the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.

Accreditation bodies for institutions that focus on developing career-oriented skills include the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology(ACCSCT), Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training, Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology, Council on Occupational Education.

Of the specialized and professional accreditors, the most visible is perhaps American Dental Association, Commission on Dental Accreditation. Also prominent among the specialized accreditors is the American Bar Association because its accreditation is a prerequisite to sitting for the bar exam in all of the states except California. Next would probably be the Association of American Medical Colleges for medical schools, and The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business for business schools.

Religious schools may seek regional accreditation or a secular national accreditation, or they have the option of four different specialized agencies, which include Association of Advanced Rabbinical and Talmudic Schools (AARTS), Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS), Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), and Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS). These groups specialize in accrediting theological and religious schools including seminaries and graduate schools of theology, as well as "normal" universities, which teach from a religious viewpoint and may require students and/or faculty to subscribe to a Statement of Faith.

The remainder of the accrediting organizations are formed by groups of professional, vocational, or trade schools whose programs are industry/profession specific and at times can require technical oversight not provided by the broader accrediting organizations (i.e. the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation, the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education).

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