Note: Licensing by a State authority such as the State Board of Community Colleges is NOT accreditation.
OVERVIEW OF ACCREDITATION
According to the US Department of Education the goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality. Accrediting agencies are educational associations of regional or national scope that 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 meet an agency's criteria are then "accredited" by that agency. Accrediting bodies normally require that a school be licensed for a minimum of two years before becoming accredited.
The U.S. Department of Education provides resources and contact information of regional and national accrediting agencies recognized as reliable authorities concerning the quality of education or training offered by the institutions of higher education or higher education programs they accredit.