Committee Resources
Institutional Resources
Substantive Changes

ACCREDITATION 

What is accreditation?  Accreditation is intended to assure constituents and the public of the quality and integrity of higher education institutions and programs, and to help those institutions and programs improve. These outcomes are achieved through rigorous internal and external review processes during which the institution is evaluated against a common set of standards.

When accreditation is awarded to an institution of higher education by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), a regional accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education, it means that the institution has (1) a mission appropriate to higher education, (2) resources, programs, and services sufficient to accomplish and sustain its mission, (3) clearly specified educational objectives that are consistent with its mission and appropriate to the degrees it offers, and that it is (4) successful in assessing its achievement of these objectives and demonstrating improvementsAccreditation by SACSCOC is a statement of the institution’s continuing commitment to integrity and its capacity to provide effective programs and services based on agreed-upon accreditation standards.

How can I determine if an institution is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)?  For a listing of institutions accredited by SACSCOC please see Accredited, Candidate, and Applicant Institution List

Are branch campuses, online programs, distance learning programs, and instructional sites included in the grant of accreditation to an institution by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)?  The Commission accredits the entire institution, including reported branch campuses, online programs, distance learning programs, and instructional sites. Please see Accredited, Candidate, and Applicant Institution List.  Branch campus information is currently being updated; to find out about branches not listed, contact the office of the SACSCOC staff member assigned to the institution. 

What is the difference between regional, national and specialized accreditation?  Regional accrediting bodies conduct comprehensive reviews of institutions of higher education and operate primarily in a specific geographical area. The accreditation granted encompasses the entire institution including reported branch campuses, other instructional sites, online programs, and distance learning modalities.  Regional accrediting bodies typically accredit a wide range of institutions offering associate, baccalaureate, masters and/or doctoral degrees.

There are seven regional accrediting associations in the United States comprising eight commissions that grant institution-wide accreditation. (For a list of regional accrediting agencies, please see www.chea.org.) While there are some modest differences in accreditation standards across regions, they operate similarly and all are recognized by the United States Department of Education (U.S.D.E.) to conduct accreditation activities.  Regional accrediting bodies also serve a “gate keeper” function for access to Title IV funds. The primary service area for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Latin America.  SACSCOC does accept applications from international institutions that can meet its accreditation standards.

National accrediting bodies conduct comprehensive reviews of institutions and operate primarily throughout the United States. The accreditation granted encompasses the entire institution. Most of the accredited institutions are private and have missions focused either on career education or religious education.  (For a list of career and faith-based accrediting agencies functioning nationally and recognized by the U.S.D.E., please see www.chea.org.)

Specialized or programmatic accrediting bodies conduct focused reviews of a single educational program and operate primarily throughout the United States, although a few operate internationally. Many are recognized by the U.S.D.E. to conduct accreditation activities. (For a list of specialized accrediting agencies, please see www.chea.org.)

Where can I find the accreditation standards and policies of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges?  For accreditation standards, please see The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement.  For policies, please see Policies, Guidelines, Good Practices and Position Statements and then select from the array of policies that are listed in alphabetical order by title.

How does an institution become accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges?  Please see Application Information

What standards must an institution meet in order to gain or maintain accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)?  Institutions accredited by SACSCOC must demonstrate compliance with the standards for accreditation as contained in The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement, and with the policies and procedures of the Commission. (For additional information about policies and procedures, please see Policies, Guidelines, Good Practices and Position Statements, and then select from the array of available documents that are listed in alphabetical order by title.)

What happens if an accredited institution doesn’t meet accreditation standards?  Institutions that do not demonstrate that they meet accreditation standards may be asked for monitoring reports, placed on the public sanctions of “Warning” or “Probation,” or dropped from status as a candidate or an accredited institution. (For additional information, please see Sanctions, Denial of Reaffirmation, and Removal from Membership.)

How can I determine if there are any accredited institutions currently on the public sanction of “Warning” or “Probation”?  For a list of any institutions on “Warning” or “Probation,” please see Accreditation Actions & Disclosure Statements, and then select from the array of available documents.

What do “Warning” and “Probation” mean?  For a description of “Warning” and “Probation,” please see Sanctions, Denial of Reaffirmation, and Removal from Membership.

Does the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accredit online institutions?  SACSCOC has not yet accredited an institution that delivers all its programs online.  There are many SACSCOC-accredited institutions that use both traditional face-to-face and distance learning/online modalities for delivering instruction. Many of these institutions also offer some individual programs totally online.  Check with your institution of choice regarding online classes or programs.

COMPLAINTS

How can I file a complaint against an institution accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)?  Complete the Commission’s Complaint Form and send two print copies to the President, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097. (To access the Commission’s complaint policy, procedures, and the Complaint Form, please see Complaint Procedures Against the Commission or Its Accredited Institutions.)

Please read the document carefully before submitting a complaint. Note that the complaint policy only addresses significant, documented, alleged non-compliance with the SACSCOC accreditation standards, policies or procedures. Complainants are expected to have attempted to resolve the issue through the institution’s complaint processes before filing a complaint with SACSCOC. The SACSCOC complaint process is not intended to be used to involve the Commission in disputes between individuals and member institutions or to cause the Commission to interpose itself as a reviewing authority in individual matters; nor does the policy allow the Commission to seek redress on an individual’s behalf. The primary purpose of the SACSCOC complaint procedure is to acquire valuable information regarding an accredited institution’s possible non-compliance with accreditation standards, policies and procedures rather than to resolve individual disputes.  Complaints must be tied to specific standard numbers from The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement.  

EVALUATION COMMITTEE MEMBERSHIP

How do I get on an evaluation committee?  For information on becoming an evaluator for the Commission, please see How to Become an Evaluator

FACULTY QUALIFICATIONS

How can I teach in a member institution?  Hiring decisions are the purview of the institution where you would like to teach.  For information on hiring requirements at a particular institution, contact the institution.  The Commission neither evaluates individuals, résumés, or transcripts, nor does it certify individuals. 

Institutions are required to document and justify that each faculty member is qualified to teach assigned courses.  Documentation and justification may be accomplished by using only traditional academic credentials, by using a combination of traditional academic credentials and “other” qualifications, or by using only “other” qualifications consistent with Comprehensive Standard 3.7.1, and reporting these on the Commission’s faculty roster form.  In essence, the institution is called upon to “make its case” for why the faculty member is qualified to teach courses assigned.

If the traditional academic credential approach is used, then following the Faculty Credential guidelines will prove very helpful. When the qualifying credential aligns with the courses being taught, no justification is normally required as the credential speaks for itself, e.g. Ph.D. in English teaching English.  However, if the Ph.D. is in Business Administration and the faculty member is teaching Accounting, then a written justification is normally necessary. 

If a combination of traditional credentials and “other” credentials is used, or if the “other” qualifications only approach is used, then a portfolio approach for qualifications is suggested.  This approach normally requires a careful and thorough justification that demonstrates the linkage between the various components of the portfolio of qualifications to the courses being taught. 

MEETINGS, WORKSHOPS, CONFERENCES

For questions about the annual meeting of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) in December of each year, click here.

For questions about the Summer Institute in July of each year, click here.

For questions about other SACSCOC-sponsored meetings, please contact us.

For questions about the pre-applicant workshops, contact us.

MEMBERSHIP  

How does an institution become accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges?  Please see Application Information.

What standards must an institution meet in order to gain or maintain accreditation? Institutions accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges must demonstrate compliance with the standards for accreditation as contained in the The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement, and with the policies and procedures of the Commission.(For additional information about policies and procedures, please see Policies, Guidelines, Good Practices and Position Statements, and then select from the array of available documents that are listed in alphabetical order by title.)

SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE  

What is a substantive change and how should it be handled?  Substantive change is a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution. For the types of substantive change and the procedures for addressing them appropriately, please see Substantive Changes.

TRANSCRIPTS

The Commission on Colleges does not have access to transcripts.  Transcripts should be obtained from the institution where the classes were taken or from which the degree was awarded.  If the institution has closed, contact the Department of Education for the state where the institution was located for information on how to obtain transcripts. 

TRANSFER OF CREDITS

Will my credits transfer or enable me to attend graduate school?  The acceptance of transfer credit is the responsibility of the receiving institution and/or graduate school. Students should check with potential receiving institutions and/or graduate schools well in advance to determine the answer to this question.

The accreditation standards of this Commission require accredited institutions to analyze credit accepted for transfer in terms of level, content, quality, comparability and degree-program relevance. The Commission’s accreditation standards do not mandate that institutions accept transfer credit only from regionally accredited institutions. (For more information, please see Collaborative Academic Arrangements: Policy and Procedures)

DEGREE MILLS AND ACCREDITATION MILLS

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation has information on its website addressing degree mills and accreditation mills.  You can access http://www.chea.org to learn more about these organizations and their representation.

 

Check WebailConnect Pro