NOTICE: As of December 12, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education no longer recognizes the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) as a valid accreditor. Please see this page on the DOE’s website for more information and to find out if your school is accredited.
The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) is an independent and autonomous non-profit organization that provides national accreditation for higher education institutions that offer programs of study through the master’s degree level. ACICS is recognized and approved by the U.S Department of Education (DoE) and Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). ACICS is a Virginia corporation and is based in Washington, D.C.
Transfer of Credits
If you plan on transferring to a regionally accredited institution upon completion of a degree or training program at an ACICS accredited institution you’ll want to check with the receiving college or university to make sure the credits you earn will be transferable. You need to be aware that many traditional institutions that are regionally accredited will only accept credits or degrees from other regionally accredited institutions; a large majority of 4-year colleges and universities are regionally accredited. Again, if your plan is to transfer to a regionally accredited college or university, check and make sure they’ll accept credits earned at an ACICS accredited school.
Other factors that may affect the willingness of a regionally accredited college or university to accept credits from a nationally accredited school include the following:
- College and State Credit Transfer Policies – Many colleges and even some states have specific policies that stipulate the number and type of credits that can be transferred from one higher education institution to another.
- Residency Requirements – Many receiving colleges and universities will require that a transfer student complete a specific number of credits at their institution in order to be awarded a degree-irregardless of how many credits they earned at their previous school.
- Appropriateness of Course Content – The courses you take at a nationally (ACICS) accredited school should align with the program of the regionally accredited institution where you want to be accepted. Be prepared to discuss with the admissions board at the receiving college how your previous education has prepared you for their program.
- Appropriate Academic Level – When considering the transferability of credits earned at an ACICS accredited institution, a regionally accredited college or university is going to take a hard look at the student’s academic standing and the level of course material studied. Having a high GPA will also help improve a student’s ability to transfer credits from an ACICS accredited institution to regionally accredited college or university.
If a regionally accredited college or university will not accept your transfer credits solely because they are from a nationally accredited institution, you have the right to appeal their decision. The first step is to request a copy of the receiving institution’s appeal process.
If the regionally accredited college or university where you’re applying for admittance is a member of the CHEA, you can also advise them that as a member of the CHEA they agreed to a “Joint Statement on Transfer and Award of Academic Credit” which recommends that standards of quality, comparability, appropriateness, and applicability be applied when evaluating transfer of credit. CHEA also states that transfer decisions should not be based entirely on the source of accreditation of the sending school or college.
Accreditation Standards and Process
ACICS is approved by the Department of Education (DoE) and CHEA to provide accreditation for private post-secondary schools and colleges that offer nondegree programs, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and master’s degrees. However, ACICS can only provide national accreditation for programs that are “designed to train and educate persons for professional, technical, or occupation careers.” As such, ACICS accreditation is typically provided to career colleges, technical schools, vocational school and community colleges that offer career-oriented degrees and training programs.
During Congressional investigations into for-profit education institutions in 2009, ACICS reported that the higher education institutions that it accredits must show a student retention rate of at least 75%. ACICS accreditation criteria policies, procedures, and standards can be found at http://www.acics.org/publications/criteria.aspx.
The ACICS accreditation process includes the following steps:
- Determination of Eligibility
- Initial Application
- Initial Applicant Annual Institutional Report (AIR)
- Initial Resource Visit
- Application and Self-Study
- Accreditation Training
- Evaluation Site Visit
- Team Report and Response
- Intermediate Review Committee
- Council Decision
ACICS Accredited Schools and Colleges
To find a comprehensive and searchable list of schools, colleges or universities accredited by ACICS go to https://personify.acics.org/SchoolDirectorySearch/tabid/204/Default.aspx.