Trends in Accreditation

Accreditation Trends

As new accrediting bodies emerge, and as accords and mutual recognition agreements grow, several trends appear to characterize accrediting bodies within engineering, technology, and computing in the last decade:

  • The increase in the number of local and regional accrediting bodies: independent local non-governmental accrediting bodies replace accreditation mechanisms that relied either on government approval or on visits by foreign accrediting bodies.
  • Outcome based models are more popular: many accrediting bodies have modified their accreditation philosophies from content-based educational approaches toward  outcome-based models.
  • Accreditation of graduate programs: whereas in the past accrediting bodies have almost exclusively accredited programs leading to a baccalaureate degrees, a growing number now accredit M.Sc. and M.Eng programs.
  • The increased role of mutual recognition agreements: participation as a signatory in an international accord had become a principal goal of new and existing accrediting bodies, and has served on one hand to increase communication and cooperation between accrediting bodies and on the other to homogenize the criteria and approaches of these bodies (at least to some extent).

At the same time, we have witnessed several instances of long-time programs that decided deliberately to forgo accreditation and to rely on their own reputation and recognition as a substitute for the accreditation process. The reasons for forgoing accreditation include the desire to have more flexibility on design of undergraduate programs, concern about rigidity of accreditation criteria, and increased time and effort needed to meet them.