to certify (a school, college, or the like) as meeting all formal official requirements of academic excellence, curriculum, facilities, etc.
Institutional accreditation in American higher education began in the late 19th century as a way to document the qualities that legitimated post-secondary institutions and as an attempt to establish standardized college entrance requirements. Since then, accreditation standards and practices have evolved to reflect the increased complexity of the American higher education landscape, advancements in institutional research, and the broad expansion of student assessment methods.
Today, degree-granting post-secondary institutions engage in accreditation for a range of reasons. Foundationally, accreditation is intended to assure the excellence and quality of these institutions and to maintain the confidence of students and prospective students, parents, faculty and staff, employers, lawmakers, and other stakeholders. Equally important, these institutions must be accredited to distribute federal and state financial aid and to facilitate the transfer of credit hours.
“A university is the highest possible form of an institution of learning. It embraces every branch of knowledge and all possible means of making new investigations and thus advancing knowledge.”Henry Tappan, University of Michigan’s first president (1852-1863)