Allied Health Career

Understanding Healthcare School Accreditation

healthcare school accreditation

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There are quite a few steps involved in becoming an allied health care professional, not the least of which is deciding to pursue a career in the field in the first place. Once the initial decision is made, the next crucial step is to choose a school.

Again, quite a few essential factors should be considered in this regard. Still, one of the most important, undoubtedly, is the accreditation status of your prospective institutions.

As an allied healthcare student, attending an accredited student can offer you many advantages ranging from quality and flexibility to financial-related benefits.

We look at everything you need to know about healthcare school accreditation below.

How Important is Healthcare Accreditation?

Accreditation is essential for a program or an institution. It is so vital that it is infinitely more advisable to attend an accredited school far from your location than an unaccredited one right beside you.

Why is this so? We take a look at a handful of reasons below.

  • Quality Standard - Before a school gets accredited, it goes through many quality checks. For this reason, more often than not, accreditation is usually proof of quality.

It shows that an external body of experts has ascertained that the school can provide a high level of education.

  • Transfer Flexibility - Secondly, an equally important reason accreditation matters is the ease of transfer. Simply put, an accredited institution will only allow you to transfer to their school if you’re coming from an accredited school.

For this reason, those who attend accredited institutions always find it easier to transfer than those who don’t.

  • Financial Benefits - Obtaining a degree from an accredited institution or program often opens the door to securing state or federal government financial aid.

Because the US Department of Education oversees accreditation bodies, they will only give financial aid to those who graduated from accredited schools and programs.

  • Licensing - Licensing is a crucial aspect of many allied health professions. In some states, certain healthcare professionals can only practice with licensure.

And as it happens, graduating from an accredited program is a massive part of qualifying for licensing exams.

  • Career - Employers often desire healthcare practitioners who graduate from accredited institutions and programs. For this reason, it is easier to secure a job when you graduate from one of these institutions and programs.

Notable Accreditation Bodies

Different bodies usually carry out accreditation, but there is a hierarchy in oversight that goes as far up as the Federal government. So on the top of the accreditation hierarchy are the US Department of Education (USDOE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), which oversee other agencies, organizations, and bodies carrying out the accreditation process.

Accrediting Agencies for Institutions

The USDOE or CHEA must approve agencies to become valid accreditation agencies. As of the moment of this writing, more than twelve accreditation agencies are approved by the Department of Education for allied healthcare institutions.

They include:

  • Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools
  • Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training
  • Distance Education Accrediting Commission
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Council on Occupational Education
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

Regional vs. National Accreditation

Before 2020, there was a distinction between national and regional accreditation agencies. The Department of Education elected to end the distinction because students were being treated differently based on their categories of accreditation.

According to the DOE, all accreditation agencies have always been held to the same standard. As such, the regional or national status was not meant to be taken as a tool to disqualify students from sitting for specific licensing exams.

Now, all agencies are designated as institutional accrediting agencies.

Accrediting Agencies for Programs

Institutional accreditation (the accreditation of a school or institution as) is not the same as program accreditation (the accreditation of a specific program).

Accreditation agencies for programs are usually national agencies overseeing program accreditation nationwide.

An institution can be accredited while a particular program isn’t. Both are very important, so you should always strive for certified programs and institutions.

Accrediting Agencies for Specific Allied Health Programs

Hundreds of accrediting agencies oversee allied health program accreditation all over the country. Below is a list of the most popular of them by specific programs.


  • Accreditation Commission for Audiology Education (ACAE)
  • Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA) (affiliated with the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association)

Clinical Laboratory Technologist

  • National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)


  • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)

Dentist and Dental Assistant

  • Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA)

Dietitian and Nutritionist

  • Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND)

Healthcare Management

  • Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)

Health Information Professional

  • Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM)

Licensed Practical Nurse

  • Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)

Massage Therapist

  • Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA)

Medical Assistant and Technologist

  • Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
  • Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)

Medical Coder

  • Commission on Accreditation of Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM)

Medical Laboratory Technician

  • Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
  • National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS)

Nuclear Medical Technologist

  • Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology (JRCNMT)

Occupational Therapist

  • American Occupational Therapy Association, Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (AOTA-ACOTE)


  • Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE)
  • Commission on Opticianry Accreditation (COA)

Pharmacy and Pharmacy Technician

  • Pharmacy Technician Accreditation Commission (a collaboration between the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists)

Physician Assistant

  • Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)

Physical Therapist and Physical Therapist Assistant

  • American Physical Therapy Association, Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (APTA-CAPTE)

Public Health

  • Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)

Radiation Therapist

  • Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT)

Surgical Technologist

  • Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
  • Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)

Ultrasound Professional

  • Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)

Veterinary Technician

  • American Veterinary Medical Association, Council on Education (AVMA)