In a previous post, I talked about accreditation focusing on the differences between national and regional accreditation. In order to participate in the DoD TA program, and the VA’s GI Bill program, colleges, and universities must be at least accredited by a nationally accredited organization and able to participate in the Title IV Federal Financial Aid program. There is an additional level of accreditation that you should consider when looking at degree or certification programs; programmatic accreditation.
Programmatic accreditation also referred to as specialized or professional accreditation, is intended to accredit designated programs, schools, or colleges within a university. In order to receive this type of accreditation, the institution must already be nationally or regionally accredited.
The majority of academically oriented degree programs are not or do not require programmatic accreditation. There are exceptions of course, as some prestigious business programs have additional levels of programmatic accreditation. Programmatic accreditation is more prevalent in allied health, technical, and career-oriented schools, where licensure or certification is the end result of the program. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) provides information on various approved programmatic accrediting bodies and the programs they accredit.
Programmatic accreditation organizations specialize in individual programs offered at a variety of schools. Since these accrediting agencies focus on a single program, their approval is often sought out in the industry they are associated with, and students of schools with their accreditation can know that the accreditation can reaffirm a commitment to student service, faculty, and programs.
So is programmatic accreditation important?
Yes, depending on the type of program you are looking to pursue, programmatic accreditation is extremely important. It is particularly important if you are seeking to gain a license or certification in a particular career field. Many licensing or certification bodies actually require the completion of a particular accredited program in order to sit for a specific license or certification.
Now, with programmatic accreditation, you need to do your research on the institution or program you are looking to attend regarding the actual accreditation status of the program/institution. Many of the programmatic accreditation bodies require, among other standards, certain levels of pass rates on national board examinations for graduating students. Failure to meet these requirements may place a school or program in a probationary status, or they may even lose their accreditation altogether.
Why is all of this is important?
As a military-related student, you want to make sure you are not squandering your military-related educational benefits on a program that does not help you achieve your ultimate goal. Again, this becomes particularly important if you will need a license or certification in order to pursue your career after the military.