In the U.S., accreditation in postsecondary education falls generally into three categories: regional, national, and specialized/professional. Regional accreditation is available through agencies that accredit large public institutions of higher education (colleges and universities); national accreditation is available through agencies that accredit institutions with a particular focus; and specialized/professional accreditation is offered by agencies that concentrate on a particular area of learning. CEA is one of approximately 65 specialized accrediting agencies.
To be eligible to seek CEA accreditation, an English program or language school must fall within CEA’s scope.
- Programmatic Accreditation
Within the United States, programmatic accreditation for intensive English programs (IEPs) and English language units with a direct reporting line within the administration of universities and colleges, including community colleges, that are accredited by a regional or other institutional accrediting body. In addition to the IEP or English language unit, CEA offers accreditation to other regularly offered non-credit English language teaching and learning programs within the unit that offers the IEP. Such programs and units may be part of academic departments (such as ESL, English, linguistics, education), non-instructional units (such as student affairs or international student affairs departments), or continuing education units. Additionally, CEA offers programmatic accreditation to IEPs within government agencies.
- Institutional Accreditation
Within the U.S., institutional accreditation for independent English language schools/institutions that offer an intensive English program. Such institutions may offer ESL/EFL teacher training and foreign languages in addition to an IEP. The forms of ownership and governance of such institutions and the organizational structures in which they exist can vary greatly. Such institutions may be governed by individual proprietors, governing boards, or corporate managers and may exist as stand-alone single-owner schools, not-for-profit organizations governed by boards, or units that are part of larger, multi-site systems. Such institutions may also conduct classes on a university or college campus by contractual agreements.
- General Accreditation
Outside the U.S., general accreditation for English language programs in a variety of settings, which meet CEA’s eligibility requirements.
Accreditation is a voluntary process, and CEA accreditation is not intended to impose a rigid uniformity of educational objectives, operations, or theoretical content upon a program. Each site seeking CEA accreditation is judged in light of its own mission in accordance with the CEA Standards for English Language Programs and Institutions, which drive the accreditation process.