USA Accreditation is a complicated subject. In order for you to become a smart consumer, you'll need to have a basic understanding of accreditation in the United States and how it works, the difference between accredited or unaccredited institutions, and the pitfalls of enrolling in a "diploma mill."
The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality. One of the reasons that institutions seek accreditation in the USA is so that their students are eligible to receive federal student aid or other federal benefits.
Accrediting agencies, which are private educational associations, 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.
The U.S. Department of Education does not accredit educational institutions and/or programs. However, the Secretary of Education is required by law to publish a list of recognized accrediting agencies whose accreditation enables the institutions they accredit to establish eligibility to participate in the Federal student financial assistance programs administered by the Department under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 as amended.
Accrediting activities outside the United States are not within the legal authority of the Department of Education to recognize, are not reviewed by the Department, and the Department does not exercise any oversight over them. Consequently, institutions and programs outside the United States that are accredited by recognized agencies are not included in the U.S. Department of Education Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs. Consequently Bircham International University can not be found in these directories.
The U.S. Department of Education does not recognize foreign accrediting agencies, however, accrediting agencies that have been recognized by the Secretary of Education may accredit foreign institutions. Private credential evaluation services will evaluate a foreign degree for comparability to a U.S. degree. The U.S. federal government does not recommend or endorse any individual credential evaluation service or group of services, and does not conduct evaluations.
The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is the most important USA advocate and institutional voice for self-regulation of academic quality through accreditation. It is an association of 3,000 degree-granting colleges and universities and recognizes 60 institutional and programmatic accrediting organizations. The accreditors are private, nongovernmental organizations created for the specific purpose of reviewing higher education institutions and programs for quality. There are other means and references to assess the quality of an educational institution.
According to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) whether a college, university, or program is accredited in the USA is important for students who want federal grants to attend a college, university, or program that is accredited. The federal government requires that a college, university, or program be accredited in order to be eligible for federal grants and loans or other federal funds.
Despite the widely recognized benefits and accountability of accreditation, some institutions choose, for various reasons, not to participate in an accreditation process. According to the United States Department of Education, it is possible for postsecondary educational institutions and programs to elect not to seek accreditation but nevertheless provide a quality postsecondary education. Yet, other unaccredited schools simply award degrees and diploma without merit for a price.
Bircham International University offers contact with several credit and degrees evaluation services that may help obtain some equivalency of accreditation.
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