University Accreditation vs. Academic Accreditation: What Is the Value of Your Degree After Graduation

By Nicole Webb

LINCOLN UNIVERSITY—What is the value of your degree? Many students are unmindful of the benefits of accreditation from their institutions.

Amongst the students of The Lincoln University, most are unaware that academic accreditation adds not only value to their degree, but also can benefit them in the future when applying for graduate school and corporate employees.

The Lincoln University is currently an accredited institution with an approval through Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA). The University’s Office of Assessment and Accreditation implements the standards for each department according to Middle States by way of academic assessment. Academic assessment is an evaluation process that interactively seeks to focus on student learning, teaching and semester outcomes.

Presently, the Office of Assessment and Accreditation is encouraging the University’s academic departments to seek professional accreditation according to their respective programs.

With the University’s Chemistry Department as the only academic department accredited, the Office of Assessment and Accreditation is urging department national and professional accreditation as a way of advancing the institution’s credibility, as well as the degree value of graduating students.

Currently, the Office of Academic Affairs is constructing what is known as a Periodic Review self-study; a requirement of the Middle States Commission. The self-study is an in-house assessment to make sure that the report for the Periodic Review is submitted, meeting the accrediting body’s criteria.

“In order for any university to receive government funding, they must be accredited,” stated Gloria Oikelome, Director of Assessment and Accreditation. “[Receiving accreditation] is our stamp of approval from the Department of Education stating that we are doing what we are supposed to be doing to deliver a quality education.”

When it comes to departmental accreditation, Oikelome stated that some departments, nationally, do not seek department accreditation, as institutional accreditation is the major priority. Departments do not see the need to seek departmental accreditation if the institution is already accredited.

“Once we [achieve] institutional accreditation, most settle with that, [due to the fact that] it costs money and is a very long process.”

“Some programs might have their own accrediting bodies which the dean and chair of those colleges work on together,” stated Denise Wilbur, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs.

As Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs, Wilbur advises the academic integrity of the institution. Regarding program and department accreditation, Wilbur stated that students should not be worried if their academic departments and/or programs are not independently accredited by respective accrediting bodies.

“[When it comes to the value of a degree,] department and program accreditation matters depending on the major. Most arts and sciences programs do not seek accreditation,” affirmed Wilbur. “When it comes to graduate school, graduating from an accredited department can make a difference. However, [depending on the field of work,] a student and/or graduate plans on seeking,] most human resource departments do not look at the accreditation of the department but rather how well you have done in courses and internships related to the job.”

Currently, the university’s Music, Nursing and Mass Communications departments are seeking accreditation. Specifically, the Mass Communications department is seeking accreditation from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism
and Mass Communications, ACEJMC accreditation, which currently accredits seven existing Historically Black Colleges and/or Universities (HBCU).

“I believe the department’s initiative in getting the department accredited is a big step,” stated Joshua Wilson, a first semester senior. “However, as a current student, it does make me uneasy to know that my program [will] not be accredited by the time I graduate.”

The Office of Assessment and Accreditation stated that it will continue to encourage departments to seek their own disciplinary accreditation, but the office does not plan on making disciplinary accreditation a requirement for departmental assessment.

The University’s Periodic Review Report (PRR) will be accessible for review and feedback from students, staff, faculty, administrators, and alumni until Wednesday, April 23. According to the Office of Assessment and Accreditation, all feedback received will be reviewed by the PRR Steering Committee and used to improve the final report before it is submitted to Middle States May 31.

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