Regional vs. programmatic accreditation

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There are many criteria for choosing a university. Perhaps the campus offers a wealth of resources or is conveniently located. What if you’re an online student? How do you narrow your school options? One important factor is accreditation.

Essentially, accreditation is the stamp of approval that a school earns after being reviewed for quality assurance, according to the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. This gives you a clear view of whether your university or program meets high educational standards.
However, did you know there are different types of accreditation? Let’s take a closer look at the differences between regional and programmatic accreditation, and how Kent State gained — and maintained — its high honors over the years.

Members examining accreditation

What is regional accreditation?

According to the Higher Learning Commission, all regional accreditation agencies meet quality standards set by the U.S. Department of Education. Regional accreditation certifies the educational value of an institution by evaluating the university as a whole. Each university seeking regional accreditation must meet and maintain standards for a wide range of factors, from academic offerings and governance to administration, finances, resources and mission.

Beyond regular reviews, all universities must provide an institutional update, undergo annual financial and non-financial monitoring, and comply with changing commission policies and practices to maintain regional accreditation.

The following organizations are recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) for providing regional accreditation:

  • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

What is programmatic accreditation?

While it’s important for universities to have regional accreditation, programmatic credentials can set a specialized program apart from the rest. This type of accreditation is designed for specific departments, programs or schools within a university that has already received regional or institutional accreditation.

According to the CHEA, programmatic accreditors review specialized programs in various fields and disciplines to ensure quality standards and program significance. There are various accrediting organizations that can help different programs across the country meet specialized standards.

Accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), for example, ensures institutions provide music students with the skills and education needed to succeed in a professional leadership role after graduation. With this specific programmatic accreditation, a program abides by the same pledge as the NASM: “Seek optimum learning conditions for music students and develop the strength and quality of music in higher education by assisting institutional members and their faculties to do their best work.”

Pursuing high quality education in the online MMME program at Kent State

As a college student, you expect your university to meet the highest quality standards in education. Kent State has earned accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission until 2025, making the online Master of Music in music education program a valuable investment in your future as a music instructor.

Since 1915, Kent State has maintained its standing with the HLC through the Open Pathway option which involves regular monitoring, an assurance review, a quality initiative process and a comprehensive evaluation. This program involves a 10-year cycle that focuses on quality assurance and institutional improvement. Its unique component, the Quality Initiative, allows Kent State to pursue improvement projects throughout the university to meet current needs and future goals.

In addition to its Higher Learning Commission accreditation, Kent State is also accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. The NASM ensures that universities have established broad learning principles throughout various disciplines of music to motivate students in artistic, scholarly, educational, and other music-related endeavors. CAEP accreditation confirms that universities are highly prepared to educate and support future teachers through continuous improvement, quality assurance, credibility equity and a strong foundation of transparent internal processes.

Group of professionals

If you’re ready to take your music education skills and knowledge the next level, Kent State is a great place to pursue your passion. By pursuing a program that meets quality education standards, you can be confident that the accredited university and the Master of Music in music education program can prepare you for the next step of your professional journey. If you’re interested in learning more about this program, visit or call 1-888-989-7072 to speak with an enrollment advisor today.

Recommended Readings:
What is the Kent State MMME Capstone Project?
How Advanced Music Technology can better prepare music educators

NCATE – What is accreditation
HLC Commission – institutions that are accredited
NASM Accreditation values
Database of accredited schools
Kent State accreditation
Kent State Institutional accreditation
Kent State HLC Open Pathway
Kent State Specialized Accreditation
Kent State Master of Music in Music Education Brochure
CHEA – Programmatic accrediting
CHEA – Regional accreditation


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