There are three types of accreditation that exist in the United States: National, Regional, and Specialized. National associations accredit single-focused institutions (e.g. a faith-based institution).
The Higher Learning Commission, a Commission of the North Central Association, is one of eight regional accrediting associations. It accredits over 1,000 institutions of higher education across nineteen states, including Illinois.
Specialized accrediting associations do not accredit institutions; they only accredit professional or specialized programs (e.g., engineering, allied health, nursing, child development, medicine, law, psychology).
Enrolling in and graduating from an accredited university or community college, such as any one of the seven City Colleges of Chicago (CCC), is critical to CCC students for a number of reasons. For example, in Illinois:
U.S. Department of Education:
- Provides federal financial aid (e.g., PELL grants) for students enrolled in institutions accredited by the Higher Learning Commission;
- Considers requests for grant funding from institutions that are regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
State Regulatory Agencies:
- Provide State grants (e.g., MAP) for students who are enrolled in institutions that are regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission;
- Allow students who have graduated from programs accredited by the appropriate specialized accrediting association to sit for national licensure exams.
Universities and Four-Year Colleges:
- Accept transfer credit for the Associate Degree and IAI approved courses from Illinois community colleges that are regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
- Evaluate transcripts from applicants who are enrolled in or have graduated from Illinois community colleges and universities that are regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Find more information on Regional Accreditation, Specialized Accreditation and Illinois Licensed Agencies that issue professional licenses for the City Colleges of Chicago here.