Why does college accreditation matter?

By Anne Riker Garlington

Hanson, Stephanie
Dr. Stephanie Hanson

When students are researching prospective degree programs factors such as tuition, scholarships, experiential learning opportunities and extracurricular activities may all play a role in choosing the right school. But there’s another important feature that should be on the list: accreditation.

Accreditation ensures students receive a quality education and are prepared for the workforce, says Stephanie Hanson, Ph.D., ABPP, the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions’ executive associate dean who oversees the college’s administrative aspects of the accreditation process.

She shares her insights on three things to know about accreditation and its importance.

What is accreditation?

Students in sensory training.

As an accredited college, PHHP is recognized for compliance with educational standards set by experts in the field of practice. It demonstrates our college’s success in offering high quality, competency-based programs. By choosing one of our accredited programs, students are prepared with the knowledge and skills needed to enter the workforce and make a difference in people’s lives.

What are the main accreditation requirements for PHHP?

The college’s accrediting body is the Council on Education for Public Health, or CEPH, which uses a broad range of criteria that are too numerous to list, but they generally can be grouped into the following categories: governance, academic/curriculum, personnel, fiscal, student experience (such as culture, professional development), infrastructure and data management, community/alumni/workforce engagement, and post-graduate outcomes.

Our college is accredited in all disciplines that have accreditation agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. In addition to college level accreditation by CEPH, there are five accrediting bodies that evaluate seven of our programs, including the Doctors of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Audiology; the Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and the clinical psychology internship program; the Master of Arts in Communication Sciences and Disorders; and the Master of Health Administration. The college is also involved in university level accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Why should accreditation matter to prospective students?

Students practicing therapy.

There are several advantages. Because accrediting agencies scrutinize all the areas critical to the academic program, students can be confident in the quality and relevance of the education they are receiving from an accredited program — that it both meets appropriate educational standards for the discipline and that the student will be ready to join the workforce upon graduation.

Accreditation reflects our college’s commitment to maintain the high academic standards of excellence students should expect. In addition, depending upon the state, accreditation is necessary for graduates from our degree programs to take their licensing exams.

Graduating from an accredited program can also result in greater likelihood of employment and higher income. Accreditation can clearly have influence in student success.