The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality. Accrediting agencies, which are private educational associations of regional or national scope, develop evaluation criteria and conduct peer evaluations to assess whether or not those criteria are met. Institutions and/or programs that request an agency's evaluation and that meet an agency's criteria are then "accredited" by that agency.
Regional accreditation is a term used in the United States to refer to the process by which one of the educational accreditation bodies reviews institutions and ensures that educational standards are met.
The following are the regional accrediting agencies for educational institutions in the United States: College of the Desert is WASC accredited.
Educational institutions in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, as well as schools for American children in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
Educational institutions in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Educational institutions in Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming. The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is an independent corporation and one of two commission members of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
Primary and secondary schools and Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) for postsecondary institutions in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.
Educational institutions in Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and Texas.
Educational institutions in California, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, Micronesia, Palau, and Northern Marianas Islands.
Regionally accredited higher education institutions are predominantly academically oriented, non-profit institutions. Nationally accredited schools are predominantly for-profit and offer vocational, career or technical programs. Standards for nationally accredited schools tend to be lower. Every college has the right to set standards and refuse to accept transfer credits. However, if a student has gone to a nationally accredited school it may be particularly difficult to transfer credits (or even 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 any credits from nationally accredited schools, others are reluctant to because they feel that these schools' academic standards are lower than their own or they are unfamiliar with the particular school. Caution is recommended if a student intends to enroll in a nationally accredited school with the future intention of transferring to a regionally accredited school. The student should first check with the regionally accredited school they plan to attend insuring the units from the nationally accredited school are transferable. Students are advised to check with a counselor at their current school if they have questions regarding accreditation.
Beyond regional accreditation there are programs that require additional accreditations that are linked to academic programs. For example: students who are interested in becoming Registered Dietetic Technicians or Registered Dieticians must attend a program that is CADE accredited. It is recommended that you check with the faculty who teaches in the major if you have questions about program specific accreditation.