Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)
The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) is a national accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). ACICS evaluates and accredits institutions which provide degrees up to a master's degree level. Originally a Virginia corporation, ACICS is an autonomous, independent, and non-profit accrediting body now based in Washington, D.C.
ACICS is a national accrediting agency, which is different than a regional accrediting agency. Many regionally accredited institutions do not accept transfer credits from nationally accredited institutions. If you are a student of a nationally accredited school and hope to transfer to a regionally accredited school, you'd be wise to verify whether the regionally accredited school will accept your transfer credits beforehand.
When it comes to transferring credits, there are other factors at work. These factors include:
College and State Credit Transfer Policies - The policies regarding credit transfers vary by institution. Many states, in fact, have particular policies regarding the transfer of credits from one school to another.
Residency Requirements- In some cases, transfer students must spend a certain amount of time and complete a certain amount of credits at an institution before a degree can be granted, regardless of the number of credits they've earned at a previous institution.
Appropriateness of Course Content - The admissions board of regionally accredited institutions will typically evaluate which courses a transfer student has completed at a previous institution, and whether or not those courses align with the programs of their institution.
Appropriate Academic Level- Regionally accredited institutions carefully evaluate transfer students' academic standing and GPA. Students with a high standing and GPA are more likely to be able to transfer their credits from a nationally accredited school to a regionally accredited one.
Many regionally accredited schools are members of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). All CHEA members agree to a "Joint Statement on Transfer and Award of Academic Credit," which encourages institutions to consider the factors of comparability, applicability, quality, and appropriateness when making credit transfer decisions, and to avoid dismissing transfer students solely because of the accreditation source of the sending institution.
Accreditation Standards and Process
ACICS only evaluates and accredits programs which provide professional, occupational, or technical training. Therefore, ACICS accredited institutions are typically vocational schools, career colleges, or technical schools. Institutions accredited by ACICS must maintain a student retention rate of 75% or more.
The process of becoming accredited by ACICS involves many steps. Institutions who are eligible for accreditation must first submit an application and an Annual Institutional Report. A team of ACICS evaluators then assesses the institution's resources, helps the institution to develop of plan towards the goal of accreditation, and trains them in the implementation of that plan. The institution must then conduct a self-study and submit its findings to ACICS. A team from ACICS then evaluates the institution and reports its findings to an Intermediate Review Committee. Based on these findings, a final decision is made by the Council.
ACICS Accredited Schools and Colleges
A list of all institutions accredited by ACICS can be found at https://personify.acics.org/SchoolDirectorySearch/tabid/204/Default.aspx.