Patrick Henry College is a member of the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) [15935 Forest Road, Forest, VA 24551; Telephone: 434.525.9539; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org] having been awarded Reaffirmation 1 of its Accredited Status as a Category II institution by the TRACS Accreditation Commission on April 3, 2012; this status is effective for a period of ten years. TRACS is recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE), the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE).
The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia has awarded Patrick Henry College a Certificate to Operate an Institution of Higher Education authorizing the College to offer degrees, courses for degree credit, or programs of study leading to a degree, in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia is the Commonwealth's coordinating body for higher education and is located at 101 North Fourteenth Street, Richmond, VA 23219. The Council's phone number is (804) 225-2600.
Additional information is available at the following links:
The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia's list of private institutions certified to operate in Virginia, including PHC
What is accreditation?
Accreditation is both a status and a process. As a status, accreditation provides public notification that an institution or program meets standards of quality set forth by an accrediting agency. As a process, accreditation reflects the fact that, in achieving recognition by the accrediting agency, the institution or program is committed to self-study and external review by its peers—seeking not only to meet standards but to continuously seek ways in which to enhance the quality of education and training provided. (See http://www.apa.org/ed/accreditation/about/accreditation-process.aspx).
What are accrediting agencies?
In most other countries, the establishment and maintenance of educational standards is the responsibility of the central government bureau. In the United States, however, public authority in education is constitutionally reserved to the states. The system of voluntary non-governmental evaluation, called accreditation, has evolved to promote both regional and national approaches to the determination of educational quality. (See http://www.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation.html#Overview).
What is the benefit of accreditation?
Quality education: Accreditation status indicates that a college, university, institution, or program meets the standards of quality set by the accreditation organization, in terms of faculty, curriculum, administration, libraries, financial well-being, and student services. While a student who attends an accredited college, university, or other institution of higher learning can be assured that he or she will receive a quality education, students should remember that a college or university's accreditation does not automatically guarantee a student's academic success. It is, of course, up to the individual student to make the most of the education he or she receives! Still, if a larger than average number of students attending a college or university are not successful and do not demonstrate a high level of educational performance, an accreditation organization may need to step in to examine the effectiveness of the institution and evaluate what aspects of the institution need to be improved. Aside from the promise of overall quality educational opportunities, an institution's accreditation status provides students with many other benefits as well.
Credit Transfer: At some point in their education, many students wish to transfer to a new program (such as graduate specialization) at another college or university. Most often, these students wish to transfer the course credits they have already accumulated to the new college or university. Accreditation is an important factor when a college or university is deciding whether to accept transfer credit from a student's previous school. Most colleges and universities will not accept transferred course credits from an institution that has not earned appropriate accreditation status from an accreditation organization.
Success in the Workplace: Most employers prefer to hire job applicants who have gained their education from a college or university with the appropriate accreditation status. Many employers also look to see that employees have been educated at an appropriately accredited institution when making decisions about business promotions, company advancements, and whether to provide tuition coverage or assistance for employees who wish or need to further their education. It is also common for states to require that a college, university, or program be accredited when allowing students to acquire state professional licensure.
What is the difference between regional and national accreditation?
Institutional accreditation is provided by regional and national associations of schools and colleges. There are six regional associations: Middle States, New England, North Central, Northwest, Southern, and Western. The associations are independent of one another, but they cooperate and acknowledge one another's accreditation. An accrediting agency evaluates an entire educational organization in terms of its mission, and the agency's criteria. The organization is accredited as a whole. The accrediting agency evaluates such things as governance and administration, financial stability, admissions and student services, institutional resources, student learning, institutional effectiveness, and relationships with internal and external constituencies. (Institutional Accreditation: An Overview, the Higher Learning Commission, 2003).
What is regional accreditation?
Regional Accreditation: The most widely recognized form of accreditation in the United States for degree programs is "Regional Accrediting." A listing of the Regional Accrediting Organizations can be viewed at Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) Directories. Colleges in Virginia fall under the regional jurisdiction of SACS (Southern Association of Schools and Colleges). As noted above, regional and national institutional accrediting organizations are equally recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Acceptance of students or courses taken is always the choice of the receiving institution.
Programmatic or Specialized Accreditation: Regulated by state or national licensing boards, some college departments hold special accreditation, such as the American Bar Association accreditation. Programmatic or Specialized Accreditation can also apply to programs within a non-educational setting, such as a hospital. You will find that some professional, specialized, and vocational institutions are accredited by a Specialized or Professional Accrediting Organization. A listing of the recognized Specialized/Professional Accrediting Organizations can be viewed at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) website. (See http://ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg7.html).
Is regional or national accreditation better?
Both USDE and CHEA review the effectiveness of accrediting organizations. USDE's primary purpose is to assure that federal student aid funds are purchasing quality courses and programs. USDE's recognition is based on ten standards that include attention to recruitment and admission practices, fiscal and administrative capacity and facilities, and success with respect to student achievement. Only those institutions that are accredited by a USDE-recognized accrediting organization are eligible to receive federal financial assistance for their students. CHEA's primary purpose is to assure and strengthen academic quality and ongoing quality improvement in courses, programs, and degrees. CHEA recognition is based on five standards that include advancing academic quality and encouraging needed improvement. In order to be considered for CHEA recognition, more than 50 percent of the institutions or programs reviewed by an accrediting organization must be degree-granting. (See http://www.chea.org/pdf/fund_accred_20ques_02.pdf).
How long does the accreditation process usually take?
Normally, a school wishing to be accredited will make application to the appropriate accrediting agency. After a substantial preliminary investigation to determine that the school is probably operating legally and run legitimately, it may be granted correspondent or provisional status. Typically this step will take anywhere from several months to several years or more, and when completed does not imply any kind of endorsement or recommendation, but is merely an indication that the first steps on a long path have been taken.
Next, teams from the accrediting agency, often composed of faculty of already accredited institutions, will visit the school. These "visitations," conducted at regular intervals throughout the year, are to observe the school in action, and to study the copious amounts of information that the school must prepare, relating to its legal and academic structure, educational philosophy, curriculum, financial status, planning, and so forth. After these investigations and, normally, following at least two years of successful operation (sometimes a great deal more), the school may be advanced to the status of "candidate for accreditation."
Being a candidate means, in effect, "Yes, you are probably worthy of accreditation, but we want to watch your operation for a while longer." This "while" can range from a year or two to six years or more. The great majority of schools that reach candidacy status eventually achieve “full” accreditation. Once a school is accredited, it is visited by inspection teams at infrequent intervals (every five to ten years is common) to see if it is still worthy of its accreditation. The status is always subject to review at any time, should new programs be developed or should there be any significant new developments, positive or negative. (See http://www.degree.net/guides/accreditation_guide.html).