Accreditation FAQ

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Answers to commonly asked questions about accreditation can be found below.


What is accreditation?
Accreditation is both a process and a status. American colleges, universities, and post-secondary institutions that participate in the accreditation process agree to be regularly evaluated against standards that set expectations for educational quality and effective institutional practices. Institutions that successfully demonstrate that they meet these standards are said to be “accredited,” or to have an “accredited status.”  If an institution is accredited, it generally means that the institution meets and maintains standards of quality in its educational and institutional practices.
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Why is accreditation important?
For prospective students and the general public, an institution’s accredited status signals that the institution meets and maintains standards of quality based on recognized practices in higher education.  Accreditation status also has a direct impact on transfer of credits and financial aid. Reputable colleges and universities will only accept transfer credits from accredited institutions, and only accredited institutions are eligible to offer federal financial aid to students under Title IV.
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Who is responsible for accrediting colleges and universities?
In the U.S., private, nonprofit organizations known as accreditation agencies perform accreditation activities and actions. Accreditation agencies develop the criteria (also known as accreditation standards) used in institutional evaluations, conduct evaluations, determine the accredited status of individual institutions, and perform other administrative activities in support of the accreditation process.

There are six regional accreditation agencies in the United States. Colleges, universities, and other post-secondary institutions in each region belong to membership associations that work with the accrediting agencies on accreditation matters.  Representatives from these member institutions (including faculty, staff, and administrators) participate on evaluation teams for other institutions in their region, which helps the accreditation agencies facilitate peer evaluation.
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Which regional agency accredits MPC?
The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) accredits all community colleges in California, including MPC.

ACCJC is part of a bigger regional accreditation agency, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).  WASC has a second sub-agency, the Accrediting Association for Senior Colleges and Universities, which accredits four-year colleges and universities in California. Information about ACCJC, its activities and actions, and the accreditation standards it uses can be found on the ACCJC website.
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What are the accreditation standards? Who writes them?
Accreditation standards are a set of written criteria that provide a framework for demonstrating how effectively institutions fulfill their mission, achieve intended outcomes for student achievement and student learning, and maintain and improve the quality of educational offerings. The standards form the foundation of an accreditation review; institutions use them to conduct a self-review and structure their self-evaluation document, and evaluation teams and accreditation agencies use them to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of an institution.

Each of the regional accrediting agencies uses their own set of standards, developed in collaboration with the colleges, universities, and institutions in their region. While the exact wording and structure of the standards used by each regional agency vary slightly, the themes are similar and each set of standards reflects accepted practices in US higher education. To maintain their accredited status, institutions are expected to be in compliance with their agency’s accreditation standards at all times.

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) accredits all California community colleges, including MPC. The current ACCJC standards were adopted in June 2016 after a yearlong process of gathering feedback and input from the colleges and other institutions (including vocational and denominational schools) accredited by ACCJC. MPC will be one of the first schools in the region to be evaluated using these newly revised standards.
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What steps are involved in the accreditation process?
Regional accreditation at MPC and other institutions accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) follows a six-year cycle that includes an in-depth self-evaluation, a visit from a team of reviewers, and other interim reports.

In preparation for the site visit, the institution performs a written self-evaluation to reflect on and document how well it meets the accreditation standards. Then, the visiting team uses the self-review document and information gained during the site visit to make recommendations to the ACCJC about how the college can (or in some cases, must) improve its practices. The college then works to implement these recommendations and continues to make improvements as it continues through the cycle.
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What happens during a regularly scheduled site visit?
As part of the regular accreditation cycle, institutions accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) undergo an evaluation visit.  A team made up of approximately 10-15 faculty, staff, and administrators from other California community colleges visits the institution being evaluated, typically for three or four days.  Prior to their arrival at the institution, team members read the institution’s self-evaluation document and related supporting documents and make preliminary conclusions about how well the college meets accreditation standards.  During their visit, the team conducts interviews with the campus community and observes activities on campus to support their conclusions.  At the end of the site visit, the team prepares a report of their findings and makes a recommendation to the ACCJC regarding the institution’s accreditation status.  The team's recommendation does not determine an institution's accreditation status; the ACCJC makes the final determination based on the team’s report and the larger context of the institution’s accreditation history.
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What is MPC's current accreditation status?
MPC maintains an accredited status. The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) last reaffirmed MPC's accredited status in June 2010.
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When will MPC have its next accreditation review?
MPC’s next regular accreditation review will happen during the fall of 2016.

MPC's self-evaluation document will be published in summer 2016; the site visit will take place in October 2016.  The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) will make a determination about MPC’s accreditation status at a subsequent Commission meeting (likely in January 2017).
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Why are some of MPC's programs accredited separately?
There are two basic types of accreditation: “institutional” accreditation and “specialized” or “programmatic.” As the name suggests, institutional accreditation considers the institution as a whole. For example, when the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) accredits MPC, it evaluates the entire college against standards of quality and effectiveness.

Within a college, there may also be individual programs, departments, or schools that have additional, discipline-specific standards for quality, effectiveness, and safety. These programs may go through an additional “programmatic” accreditation, conducted by an accrediting agency from within the specific discipline. For example, at MPC, the Maurine Church Coburn School of Nursing is considered as part of the MPC’s institutional accreditation by ACCJC, and is also accredited separately by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
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