What is an Accreditation?
Although "accreditation" is a word that is tossed around a lot in the college world, a lot of people don't know exactly what it means for a school to be accredited. In short, it's important, especially for some degree programs. When a school is accredited it means that the school meets the standards of quality that the accrediting agency has set. Different accreditations may have different standards or use different parameters to decide what schools to accredit. Not only this, but an accreditation also symbolizes the educational institution's commitment to self-improvement. Furthermore, it signifies that the institution is willing to subject itself to external review in the spirit of growth and quality.
Examples of Accrediting Bodies
There are a few different accrediting agencies that set standards specifically for healthcare programs, including:
- Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education
- Council on Education for Public Health
- Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools
There are also a number of regional accrediting bodies, such as the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Regional vs. National Accreditations
When it comes to healthcare administration, accreditation matters. Some say that regional accreditations are more prestigious than national accreditations, but this isn't always the case. What is true, however, is that credits from regionally-accredited colleges often transfer more easily than those from nationally-accredited schools. This is especially important if you are planning on pursuing an advanced degree – whether that means getting a bachelor's degree after earning an associate's, a master's after earning a bachelor's, or a doctorate after getting a master's degree. In fact, some advanced degree universities won't even accept students unless they have graduated from regionally-accredited schools.
Specialized Accreditations and CAHME
Although most schools have one general accreditation (such as from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education) some schools also have specialized accreditations from agencies such as the ones mentioned above. The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) is a prestigious one that only accredits highly-selective programs. Furthermore, CAHME doesn't accredit any schools that operate entirely online (although they do offer accreditation to campus-oriented schools that offer specific classes in a distance education format). This seems to be partially because the quality of instruction is based on the ability for students to benefit from group interaction and hands-on training.
Don't expect to find a prestigious undergraduate program accredited by CAHME. The agency only accredits master's degree programs, such as M.A.'s, M.B.A.'s, M.H.A.'s, M.H.S.A.'s, M.P.H.'s, and M.S. degrees. And because CAHME does accredit programs that offer some classes online, you can still go to a CAHME-accredited program and reap the benefits of a flexible program. Additionally, students should be sure to check and see if they will need to meet any licensing requirements after graduation, such as before getting a job in a nursing home facility.
About the Author:
Iris Stone has worked as a freelance writer since 2011. Her writing has included content on medicine, healthcare, and education, although her interests are wide and varied. Prior to breaking into the freelance biz, Iris worked in sales for a health company and prior to that as an assistant in a chiropractic office. She is currently attending George Mason University and is majoring in Political Science. Check out her Google+ profile.