According to the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions, “accreditation is a process of external review used by the higher education community to assure quality and spur ongoing improvement. Accrediting commissions are private, nonprofit organizations whose members are the colleges and universities themselves. The commissions and visiting teams are made up of volunteers, and one of every seven commissioners is a representative of the public. Regional accreditation has a long history and has served the U.S. higher education system for more than 100 years. It relies on the rigorous process of peer review, not governmental monitoring, to define and evaluate whether institutions meet high standards. Self-regulation preserves the autonomy and diversity of higher education, two unique characteristics of our higher education system that contribute to its quality.”
The U.S. Department of Education identifies nine functions of accreditation:
- Verifying that an institution or program meets established standards;
- Assisting prospective students in identifying acceptable institutions;
- Assisting institutions in determining the acceptability of transfer credits;
- Helping to identify institutions and programs for the investment of public and private funds;
- Protecting an institution against harmful internal and external pressure;
- Creating goals for self-improvement of weaker programs and stimulating a general raising of standards among educational institutions;
- Involving the faculty and staff comprehensively in institutional evaluation and planning;
- Establishing criteria for professional certification and licensure and for upgrading courses offering such preparation; and
- Providing one of several considerations used as a basis for determining eligibility for Federal assistance.
Frederick Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, 267-284-5000, and authorized by the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC), 6 North Liberty Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, (410) 767-3300; to offer programs that lead to award associate degrees and certificates. The College received its initial accreditation in 1971 and has been reaccredited every ten years thereafter. The College accreditation was reaffirmed on June 23, 2016. In 2017, a new accreditation process and timeline was implemented. The accreditation timeline was moved from every 10 years to now every eight years.