Accreditation and Regulation

AuthorRebecca Purdom - Greg Brandes - Karen Westwood
Chapter 10
Accreditation and Regulation
An institution launching an online, or partially online, law program must be aware of the impact of
accreditors and regulators. An institution should contact a parent institution’s compliance officer or
general counsel, or appoint a faculty or staff member to monitor these issues. Full compliance can be a
rigorous and expensive undertaking and should not be underestimated. This paper does not attempt to
address all compliance issues comprehensively, but calls the reader’s attention to several important areas.
This chapter addresses:
Accreditation and education authorization. A variety of accreditors, including but not limited
to the ABA, regional and state accreditors, and specialized distance learning accreditors may
have jurisdiction over distance learning programs. How will you ensure that your distance
program obtains or retains accredited status as you deliver online courses or programs?
Other regulation. How will your school prepare to follow and comply with the variety of
evolving state and federal regulations? How will regulations that were written for residential
populations be modified for distance learning populations?
Accreditation and Education Authorization
The US has three types of accrediting agencies: Those recognized directly by the US Department of
Education (DOE); those recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation
(CHEA), which
is aligned with the US DOE) and state accreditors or regulators. Accreditation by a recognized accreditor
under DOE or CHEA is required for an institution to be eligible to accept federal student aid funds. For
traditional on-campus programs, state authorization outside of the institution’s locational state is not
required for federal student aid funds.
Specialized Legal Accreditors
Recognized by DOE, the American Bar Association provides direct accreditation to law schools in the
United States. Most states only allow graduates of ABA accredited schools to sit for the bar exam and
become licensed to practice law. As noted elsewhere in this paper, the ABA currently provides significant
limitations on distance learning courses within the JD curriculum. The Distance Education Accrediting
Commission (DEAC), until recently known as the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), has
a long history and specialized expertise in accrediting distance education programs. Like the ABA, it has
authority from the Department of Education to accredit first professional degree programs leading to the
CHEA is aligned with the US Department of Education.

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