Thoughts on Accreditation
Accreditation is a process of ensuring quality and public accountability at colleges and universities. The standards for accreditation are
determined by a peer review board of presidents and faculty from various accredited colleges and universities. The board aids in the
evaluation of each applicant for accreditation or the reaffirmation of currently accredited colleges and schools.
An important factor in realizing a successful career is choosing a reputable college. Colleges that have been through the accreditation
process are more likely to offer degrees that employers and recruiters recognize. Companies want to know that future employees have a
quality education and that they will have something to bring to the table when they join their team. For this purpose, accreditation enables
companies to filter those individuals who have earned a degree from an accredited institution from those who have not. The accreditation
process also offers students a better chance of transferring credits to other reputable institutions or being admitted into a graduate
In addition, accreditation is only as good as its recognition and reputation. The three accreditation categories are regional, national, and
professional or specialized. Regional accreditation has been around for over 100 years. Typically, colleges and universities are accredited
by one of six regional agencies of accreditation. Clearwater Christian College is accredited by the
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
to award associate, baccalaureate, and master's degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097
or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of our institution.
National accrediting agencies are not limited to geographic
regions in the United States and they primarily recognize technical and career-oriented programs. Some religious institutions have
opted for national accreditation such as the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) or the Transnational Association of Colleges
and Schools (TRACS) because these agencies emphasize the religious distinctive of their member schools. Some schools obtain a specialized
accreditation for the professional training they provide through their institution whether it is in accounting, dentistry, or law.
Regionally accredited schools are predominantly academically oriented, non-profit institutions. Nationally accredited schools are primarily
for-profit and offer vocational, career or technical programs. Every college has the right to set standards regarding the acceptance of
transfer credits. However, if a student has gone to a nationally accredited school it may be difficult to transfer credits (or given
credit for a degree earned if he or she then applies to a regionally accredited college). Some regionally accredited colleges have general
policies against accepting credits from nationally accredited schools. Others are reluctant because they feel that the academic standards
of these schools are lower than their own or they are unfamiliar with the particular school. A student who plans to transfer from a nationally
accredited institution to a regionally accredited one should verify ahead of time that credits will transfer. Additionally, some
opportunities for employment, certification in one's field of expertise, and certain financial aid assistance may be reserved for those
who are attending or graduate from regionally accredited schools.
Despite the widely recognized benefits and accountability of accreditation, some institutions choose not to
participate in an accreditation process. According to the United States
Department of Education, it is possible for institutions and programs to elect not to seek accreditation but still provide a
quality postsecondary education. Yet, other unaccredited schools simply award degrees and diplomas without merit for a price. Some religious
schools claim that accreditation could interfere with their mission or philosophy even though there are organizations which accredit
religious institutions without compromising their doctrinal statements.
An ongoing problem within higher education is the existence of schools that grant apparent degrees with little or no coursework to a willing
buyer for money. Some of these schools claim some sort of accreditation which often exists through a post office box or Web page. Care
should be exercised to carefully examine both the school and its accrediting agency before making your final decision.
As a sophomore psychology major, Lydia is learning how to combine Biblical perspectives and clinical psychology. "Throughout high school, I knew that
I wanted to attend a Christian college and study psychology. I wanted an atmosphere that promoted genuine Christian growth in my personal life and I
also wanted to gain a balanced perspective on psychology, one that emphasized biblical counseling as well as clinical psychology, and sought to prove
that true science and the Bible work together. There were several schools that offered these ideals, but I was sold on Clearwater after I visited and
saw how friendly and approachable the professors and students were and learned about the college's focus on personal discipleship. God has definitely
used Clearwater in my life to draw me closer to Him."