Tennessee Approval

In order to operate in Tennessee, proprietary postsecondary institutions must be approved by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission through their Postsecondary Authorization Division. There are currently more than 320 colleges and schools authorized to operate in Tennessee.

The THEC Office of Postsecondary School Authorization oversees and authorizes non-publicly funded, private proprietary and nonprofit schools offering training or education leading to a vocation, college credit or issuance of an educational credential.

Among services offered by the Office are the following:

  • Assisting individuals or businesses seeking authorization to operate a postsecondary educational institution

  • Supplying information and assistance to prospective schools

  • Establishing and requiring compliance with minimum standards

  • Protecting student and consumers from substandard institutions and practices

  • Maintaining a list of currently authorized schools

  • Assisting consumers with questions about selecting a school

  • Providing student academic transcripts from closed schools

  • Reviewing student complaints not resolved at the institutional level

Postsecondary School Authorization
404 James Robertson Parkway, 18th floor
Nashville, TN 37243-0830
Telephone: 615-741-5293
Fax: 615-741-6230

For specific information, email Teresa Warren at teresa.warren@state.tn.us

Career College Accrediting Agencies

Many of Tennessee’s career colleges and schools are accredited by national or regional agencies recognized by the U. S. Office of Education. This entitles students in these institutions to be eligible for to Title IV funding.

What are Title IV Schools

Title IV is a federal student financial assistance program authorized by the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, and includes both grant and loan programs. These funds are available only to eligible students enrolled in eligible programs at eligible institutions. In order to be eligible, an institution must:

  • be licensed or authorized by the state where it operates
  • be accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency
  • admit as regular students only persons with high school diplomas or the recognized equivalent, or persons
    beyond the age of compulsory school attendance.

Eligible institutions include institutions of higher education, proprietary institutions of higher education, and postsecondary vocational institutions. Various eligibility requirements apply relating to eligible programs, ownership, administrative capability, and financial responsibility requirements.

What is Accreditation?

Accreditation is a “voluntary system of nongovernmental self-regulation of the nation’s educational institutions. Institutions and programs are evaluated and recognized for quality assurance”. [ACICS] It is process in which institutions develop mission statements, goals, and programs. They are then reviewed by an accreditation team prior to becoming accredited. Prospective institutions must be legally organized, be licensed by the appropriate state agencies, have been in operation for a specific period of time and other requirements specific to the accrediting agency. The product of accreditation is “a public statement of an institution’s continuing capacity to provide effective programs and services based on agreed-upon requirements”. [SACS]

There are seven primary agencies which provide accrediting for Tennessee’s Career Colleges and Schools.

Accrediting Agencies

The Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) has as one of its objectives to serve as a nationally recognized accrediting agency of health education institutions and those offering specialized medical laboratory technician and medical assistant education programs. ABHES conducts both institutional and specialized, programmatic accreditation.

Formed in 1964 as the Accrediting Bureau of Medical Laboratory Schools, its present name was assumed in 1974 in order to identify more properly its activities and expanded scope. The Bureau is recognized by the U. S. Secretary of Education as a national accrediting body determined to be a reliable authority as to the quality of training offered by the educational institutions and programs it accredits.

Its approved and recognized scope includes degree and non-degree granting private, postsecondary institutions offering educational programs predominantly in allied health; and medical assistant and medical laboratory technician programs in private and public institutions.

Additional information on ABHES schools or accreditation can be found at www.abhes.org

The goal of the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT) is maintaining educational quality in the career schools and colleges it accredits by striving to assure academic excellence and ethical practices. There are more than 360,000 students who annually pursue career education at its accredited institutions.

ACCSCT was originally founded in 1993 to conform with the Higher Education Act Amendments of 1992. It is recognized by the U S. Department of Education as a national accrediting agency for private, postsecondary institutions offering occupational vocational programs. It is also a member of the Council of Recognized National Accrediting Agencies (CRNAA).

To be eligible for consideration for accreditation by ACCST, an institution must be:

  • legally established
  • licensed by the appropriate state agency
  • in compliance with state, federal, and local government requirements.

For additional information, go to their web site at www.accsct.org.

The mission of the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET) is to inspire and promote quality-oriented continuing education and training. Through the establishment of standards and the assurance of an accreditation process focused on integrity, we seek to identify, evaluate and enhance the delivery of continuing education and training.

ACCET has been officially recognized by the U. S. Department of Education since 1978, as a “reliable authority as to the quality of education or training provided by the institutions of higher education and the programs they accredit.” In 1998, ACCET became the first recognized accrediting agency to be certified as an ISO 9001 Quality Management System under the international standards established by the International Organization for Standardization.

A continuing education program is defined as “postsecondary instruction designed to meet the educational needs and interests of adults, including the expansion of available learning opportunities for adults who are not adequately served by current educational offerings in their communities”.

ACCET accredits institutions providing noncollegiate continuing education and training programs and which may be approved to award the validated CEU, certificates and/or Occupational Associates Degrees.

For additional information, go to the ACCET web page at www.accet.org

The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools(ACICS) mission is to advance educational excellence for students at independent, non-public career schools, colleges, and organizations in the United States and abroad. Since 1953 ACICS has engaged in the evaluation and accreditation of independent colleges and career schools.

In 1956, the Council was officially designated by the U. S. Commissioner of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency. ACICS is also recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). CHEA’s mission is to serve students and their families, colleges and universities, sponsoring bodies, governments, and employers by promoting academic quality through formal recognition of higher education accrediting agencies. ACICS has accredited 375 main campuses and 250 nonmain campuses.

To be eligible for consideration for accreditation by ACICS, an institution must be either:

  • an institution of postsecondary education primarily offering educational programs designed to train and educate persons for careers or professions where business applications, business doctrines, supervisory or management techniques professional or paraprofessional applications, and other business-related applications or disciplines support or constitute the career; or
  • a non-institutional entity offering professional enhancement education.

For additional information, go online to www.acics.org.

The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) is the regional body for the accreditation of higher education institutions in the southern states. SACS was founded in 1895 in Atlanta, Georgia. Accreditation by the Commission on Colleges signifies that an institution has a purpose appropriate to higher education and has resources, programs, and services sufficient to accomplish and sustain that purpose.

The Commission expects institutions to dedicate themselves to enhancing the quality of their programs and services within the context of their missions, resources, and capacities, and to create an environment in which teaching, public service, research, and learning occur.

For additional information about the Commission of SACS, go to www.sacscoc.org.

The Council on Occupational Education (COE) is a national accrediting agency that is committed to assuring quality and integrity in career and workforce development. The Council is a non-profit voluntary membership organization serving postsecondary education and training institutions, centers, and similar entities interested in the improvement of the workforce in the United States of America.

The Council is the successor to the Commission on Occupational Education Institutions, founded in 1971 as a regional accrediting agency of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The Council’s current membership is approximately 450 candidate and accredited institutions.

The Council is unique among accrediting agencies due to the diversity of its membership and service recipients. Members include public technical education institutions, private non-profit and for-profit job preparation schools, job corps centers, military technical training centers, national defense schools, federal agency institutions, corporate and industry training units and community-based training programs. The goal of the Council is to assure quality and integrity in career and workforce development through accreditation.

Additional information on COE can be found at www.council.org.

The Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) was founded in 1926 to promote sound educational standards and ethical business practices within the correspondence field. The Accrediting Commission was established in 1955 and shortly thereafter gained the approval of the U. S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency. CHEA also recognizes the Accrediting Commission. It recently has emerged as a leader in global distance learning.

The mission of DETC is to promote the development and maintenance of high educational and ethical standards in education and training programs delivered through distance learning. Today more than 3 million Americans are enrolled in DETC-accredited institution.

Eligibility is determined by institutions which, among other things, transmit to students organized instructional materials, provide continuous two-way communication on student work, and offer courses of instruction which must be studied predominantly at a distance trom the institution.

For additional information on DETC, go their web site at www.detc.org.