Best practice on evaluating credit from non-accredited institutions.

September 2, 2015
  • AACRAO Connect
  • Transfer and Articulation
Photo of a keyboard with the enter key replaced by a red key that says "transfer."

A recent AACRAO member survey of various admissions practices concluded that roughly half of all respondents do not have a documented process for “evaluating credit for transfer from unaccredited institutions."  These results reminded us that it has been some time since AACRAO, the American Council on Education (ACE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) released its 2001 Joint Statement on the Transfer and Award of Credit [1].  This statement was and is intended to serve as a practice and policy guide on this topic.  One of the criteria for transfer decisions included in this statement is a recommendation for “Balance in the Use of Accreditation Status in Transfer Decisions”.  More specifically,

“Institutions and accreditors need to assure that transfer decisions are not made solely on the source of accreditation of a sending program or institution. While acknowledging that accreditation is an important factor, receiving institutions ought to make clear their institutional reasons for accepting or not accepting credits that students seek to transfer. Students should have reasonable explanations about how work offered for credit is or is not of sufficient quality when compared with the receiving institution and how work is or is not comparable with curricula and standards to meet degree requirements of the receiving institution.”

This recommendation is also mirrored by the CHEA in their A Statement to the Community: Transfer and the Public Interest [2] (2000).  CHEA developed this document in part to address a concern that “accredited status of a program or institution assist, not hinder, students in their transfer process” [3].

In light of the recent survey results, we recommend that our members read these documents and either develop new policies or review their current transfer policies and procedures to ensure that students applying with credits from unaccredited institution have an avenue for having those credits reviewed for equivalency.  In addition the institution should be able to clearly document the reasons for accepting or not accepting credits that students seek to transfer.


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