Accreditation is about accountability and is intended to strengthen and sustain the quality and integrity of higher education by establishing and enforcing standards of excellence.
Accreditation of educational institutions is a periodic review process that ensures that the academic programs, operations, and support services meet minimal standards with regard to the mission of the institution and the expectations of external constituents. Accreditation is required for an institution to manage Title IV federal student aid programs (grants, loans, work-study programs). The assessment and self-study process that accompanies an accreditation review enables the institution to identify potential weaknesses and opportunities for improvement.
In most countries, the function of educational accreditation is conducted by a government agency or organization, such as a ministry of education. In the United States, educational accreditation has long been established as a peer review process coordinated by accreditation commissions and member institutions. The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSCHE) is a voluntary, peer-based, non-profit association dedicated to educational excellence and improvement through peer evaluation and accreditation. The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools is one of six regional accrediting organizations for higher education institutions that is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the United States Department of Education.