Academic Affairs Office of the Provost
1201 S. State Street
Timme Center, CSS 310
Big Rapids, MI 49307
Accreditation is a system through which American education strives to assure the quality of education. In the United States, accreditation is conducted by peer reviewers, individuals who are members of the professional community, and the accreditors are subjected to standards established by the United States Department of Education through federal regulations and other guidance as well as by the accreditors’ governing boards.
Most colleges are accredited by what are referred to as regional accreditors, and the nation has been divided into six regions of the country for accreditation purposes. Ferris is located in the region of the Higher Learning Commission, which accredits all forms of colleges and universities in a 19-state region. Reviews for reaffirmation of regional accreditation are conducted periodically to assure that institutions remain in compliance with the accreditor’s standards.
The regional accreditation process typically involves having a college or university conduct a self evaluation that includes producing evidence that substantiates the college’s claim that they meet the standards. Other reporting may also be required at the time of a reaffirmation visit, such as documenting the institution’s compliance with other federal or state expectations. Site visits to confirm the institution’s self evaluation (referred to in HLC terms as the Assurance Argument) are conducted on various schedules, and it is common that visits may occur every 10 years. Some are reviewed more frequently. Site visits are conducted by individuals who are current or former employees of institutions of higher education.
Regional accreditation strives to assure the quality of the entire institution and all of its programs and services. Another form of accreditation is referred to as specialized accreditation. Specialized accreditors focus on specific programs or classes of programs, such as radiography (a single program) or business or engineering (groups of programs).
While not a form of accreditation, the Carnegie Classification system is used in higher education to distinguish among different types of higher education institutions. There are several subcomponents of the Carnegie Classification.