As more American students pursue nontraditional avenues of education — online and distance learning and study abroad opportunities — accreditation is a big issue. Students want to make sure they’re not wasting time and money pursuing a degree that will be worthless in the job market or study abroad courses that will not be recognized by their home institution for graduation credits. As more awareness about accreditation is encouraged, individual study abroad programs — especially non-U.S.-based institutions — are making it their business to pursue it as well.
One of the best resources for researching the accreditation for all types of schools and universities is the Council for Higher Education Accreditation database of institutions and programs. CHEA lets you search by institution name or browse by program type or institutional accreditor, like the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools or the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. Faculty interested in collaborating with overseas institutions, and students interested in studying abroad, can very easily search schools and programs in different countries by selecting their country of choice from the drop-down bar on this page. Countries included range from Kenya to Canada to Germany to Venezuela. Just searching for a country, without any other search qualifications, will pull up all the institutions that are recognized by CHEA, and therefore by a US accrediting body.
Another resource for understanding study abroad accreditation is the International Student Exchange Programs (ISEP) website. Students can use this program to find international programs and experiences that are either regionally accredited in the United States or that have been recognized by their home government. Click on the directory of universities to find lists of international member schools in countries like Hungary, Australia, Korea, Brazil and Spain, as well as well-known U.S. institutions like San Diego State University, Winston-Salem University, University of Nebraska, University of Vermont and Louisiana State University.
In 2002, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education — a regional U.S. accrediting body recognized by CHEA — began a pilot program to begin accrediting non-U.S.-based institutions in places like China and Greece. Some of those institutions have been accredited, while others are still in the application process.
International schools are starting to understand the importance of being accredited in the U.S. so that American students can be more flexible when choosing study abroad or exchange programs. There is no universal method for international accreditation yet, but American accrediting agencies and foreign schools seem to be making the effort to work together for the sake of a common mission in promoting unique educational experiences.
This guest post is contributed by Alvina Lopez.