Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is accreditation?
The designation that an institution earns indicating that it functions appropriately with respect to its resources, programs, and services. The accrediting association, often comprised of peers, is recognized as the external monitor. There are four types of officially recognized accrediting agencies in the United States: 1) Regional, 2) National Faith-Related, 3) National Career-Related, and 4) Programmatic. Regional accreditors accredit the entire institution which includes its reported distance education and off campus programs.
2. What is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)?
SACSCOC is the recognized regional accrediting body in the eleven U.S. Southern states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia) and in Latin America for those institutions of higher education that award associate, baccalaureate, master’s or doctoral degrees. SACSCOC is one of six private, voluntary, nonprofit, regional accrediting associations in the United States.
3. Why is accreditation important?
Accreditation by SACSCOC signifies that a university has:
- A mission appropriate to higher education,
- The resources, programs, and services to accomplish and sustain that mission,
- Clearly specified educational objectives that are consistent with its mission and that are appropriate to the degrees it offers, and
- Success in achieving its stated objectives.
Maintaining fully accredited status ensures that the university remains in compliance with federal expectations and continues to receive federal Title IV funding.
4. How will Vanderbilt University prepare for the SACSCOC reaffirmation?
Vanderbiltwill prepare a Compliance Certification Report and Quality Enhancement Plan as part of its reaffirmation efforts. The University will also respond to any request for additional or clarifying information made by the Off-Site Committee and On-Site Reaffirmation Committee. Vanderbilt will host a group of faculty and staff members from SACSCOC accredited institutions as part of the University’s On-Site Review.
- Compliance Certification – Vanderbilt will conduct a thorough self-evaluation to review its success in meeting the 90 standards and requirements in SACSCOC’s The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement , which is the Commission’s primary source document for the reaffirmation process. Vanderbilt will include narratives and supporting documentation in its Compliance Certification Report in order to justify its compliance with the standards and requirements. Due September 2016.
- Quality Enhancement Plan – The Quality Enhancement Plan describes a carefully designated course of action that addresses a well-defined and focused topic or issue related to enhancing student learning and/or the environment supporting student learning and accomplishing the mission of the institution. Due Early 2017.
- On-Site Review – A group of faculty and staff members from SACSCOC accredited institutions visits Vanderbilt’s campus on March 28-30, 2017. The site visit consists of the On-Site Reaffirmation Committee meeting with the individuals at Vanderbilt involved with the QEP and/or the Compliance Certification.
5. How is Vanderbilt University evaluated?
The Off-Site and On-Site Reaffirmation Committees, which will consist of faculty and staff from other institutions accredited by SACSCOC, will evaluate Vanderbilt University’s compliance with The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement , which is the Commission’s primary source document for the reaffirmation process. The Principles of Accreditation contain 90 Core Requirements, Comprehensive Standards, and Federal Requirement with which the institution must comply in order to be reaffirmed. Vanderbilt must also abide by SACSCOC’s policies and have an acceptable Quality Enhancement Plan in order to have SACSCOC reaffirm the accreditation.
6. When is the reaffirmation process taking place?
2016-2017. Please see the timeline for additional information.
7. Who should I contact about Vanderbilt University's SACSCOC Reaffirmation?
Please contact Vanderbilt Institutional Accreditation at firstname.lastname@example.org.