Accreditation is a professional peer review process by which educational institutions and programs are provided technical assistance and are evaluated for quality based on established academic and administrative standards. It is a process that assures the educational community and the general public that an institution or a program has clearly defined and appropriate objectives and maintains conditions under which their achievement can reasonably be expected. Accreditation encourages improvement through continuous self-study and review and fosters excellence in postsecondary education through the development of principles and guidelines for assessing educational and institutional effectiveness.
“Institutional" accreditation applies to the entire institution, indicating that each of an institution’s parts is contributing to the achievement of the institution's objectives. Institutional accrediting bodies are either regional or national. Regional accreditors concentrate on a specific area of the country.
"Specialized" or "programmatic" accreditation normally applies to programs, departments, or schools that are parts of an institution. Programs in education and business are examples of programs requiring specialized accreditation. The Office of the Provost maintains information about specialized and programmatic accreditation.