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LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
BUREAU OF EDUCATION,
Washington, February 9, 1917. SIR: Various agencies in the United States maintain lists of collegiate institutions whose graduates are given certain academic or professional privileges. Very few of these lists have received widespread publicity. The criteria in accordance with which the lists are made up vary. Consequently, there is a great and growing uncertainty as to what is meant by the term “ recognized” or “approved" or "accredited” college. It has been felt that a compilation of such of these lists as are prepared by public or nonsectarian agencies will be useful to educational officers, and in the end will contribute toward the establishment of more definite standards for collegiate work. I have, accordingly, requested Dr. S. P. Capen, the bureau's specialist in higher education, to prepare such a compilation, which is transmitted herewith for publication as a bulletin of the Bureau of Education under the title “Accredited Higher Institutions." Respectfully submitted.
P. P. CLAXTON,
Commissioner. The SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR.
ACCREDITED HIGHER INSTITUTIONS.
The impression prevails that there exists some authoritative classification of higher institutions, a classification which has behind it the sanction of the Government. It is true that the Bureau of Education prepared in 1911 a tentative classification of colleges, on the basis of the value of the bachelor's degree. This document was never formally published, and no effort has been made to correct, in accordance with the current changes in institutional standards and resources, the information on which it was based. There is no comprehensive classification of collegiate institutions by any governmental agency.
Classifications appear to be necessary for various purposes, however, and in default of action by the Government those groups of educational officials who need them have been forced to make their own. State departments of education, State universities, educational foundations, voluntary associations, and certain of the larger universities which maintain graduate schools, as well as church boards of education and other denominational bodies have for some years gradually been elaborating lists of institutions whose standards they are willing, as the result of special information, to approve. Probably the extent to which this process has been carried on has not been generally known. The facts have seemed to the Bureau of Education to be worth recording, both because of their bearing on an important phase of higher education in the United States and for the assistance of educational officers who deal with questions of advanced credits.
Accordingly, in March, 1916, the Bureau of Education issued a general inquiry designed to secure from various nonsectarian agencies the lists of collegiate institutions approved by each, together with statements of the criteria by which inclusion in each list is determined. The material submitted in response to this inquiry is published herewith. To it have been added the lists already in print prepared by certain widely influential organizations. Each list is the latest one which had been issued or prepared by the body in question at the time of the inquiry. A few lists have since been revised. Owing to the delay attendant on securing returns, the bureau has not attempted to include these revisions, however. The bulletin represents the status of collegiate accrediting by official and semiofficial nonsectarian agencies as late as April, 1916.
PURPOSES AND PROCEDURE OF ACCREDITING AGENCIES.
The lists represent four types of procedure in classification. universities are generally under the necessity of defining the terms on which students coming from other collegiate institutions (as a rule from institutions in the same State) will be received. Some State universities accredit colleges from which undergraduate students will be accepted on transfer, some accredit colleges whose graduates will be admitted to the graduate school as candidates for advanced degrees, and some accredit colleges on both bases. Their sources of information regarding accredited institutions are various. More or less definite knowledge of the standards of colleges in the home State is commonly possessed by State university officials as the result of visits to these institutions and of past experience with students who have been transferred from them. Where a State university accredits institutions in other States, it is customary to rely on the ratings given by the State universities of those States or by some trustworthy nonofficial body.
The lists of institutions accredited by State departments of education contain chiefly the names of universities, colleges, and normal schools whose graduates are eligible to receive certain kinds of teachers' certificates without examination. Generally, departments of education accredit only institutions in their own States. Some of them have developed more or less adequate machinery for inspecting these institutions. Some depend largely on reports and desultory information. Where the attempt is made to cover a wider territory than a single State, reliance is usually placed on the action of the accrediting bodies in whose bailiwick the institutions in question are located. There are certain exceptions to this method, notably, for example, the practice of the New York State Department of Education, which conducts a painstaking inquiry into the standards of all institutions wherever situated that apply for rating. (The last printed list of institutions recognized by the New York department of education, issued in 1913, is not published here for the reason that it is under careful revision.)
The lists prepared by voluntary associations, like the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools and the Asso
1 Exception was made in the cases of the lists of the State universities and education departments of the following States, which specially requested the bureau to bring their lists up to date : State universities of Minnesota, Texas, Wasbington ; education depart ments of Illinois, Ohio, Texas, and Washington.
ciation of American Universities and by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, represent an effort to define and to elevate higher educational standards over wide areas. They are not designed primarily to determine questions of credits or eligibility for official credentials, although this may be a secondary object. Their preparation is based on a detailed study of the standards and resources of the institutions concerned.
The fourth type of classification is exemplified in the restricted membership lists of certain organizations, like the Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools of the Southern States. Collegiate institutions are admitted to membership in these bodies only when, upon investigation by the association's officers, they are found to meet the prescribed conditions of equipment, support, and academic requirements.
its. The effect of this kind of classification on higher educational standards in the region covered by the association is essentially the same as that of the third type just mentioned.
CONTENTS OF THE BULLETIN.
The bulletin is divided into four parts. Part I contains lists of institutions accredited by State universities. At the head of each list the purpose for which the institutions included in it are accredited and the basis of approval are clearly stated. In those cases where State universities have no formal lists of accredited institutions, but, in judging the eligibility for advanced rating of candidates from other colleges, apply definite standards to the institutions from which candidates come, those standards are quoted. If a State institution has no regular formal procedure with reference to students coming from other colleges, that fact is also stated.
Part II contains lists of institutions accredited by State departments of education. Each list is headed by an outline of the purpose and basis for accrediting adopted by the department in question.
Part III contains lists of recognized or approved colleges prepared by the influential voluntary organizations of secondary and higher institutions referred to above and by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Not all the voluntary associations known to have adopted some sort of academic standards to test eligibility for recognition or for membership are included in this group, , but only those whose sphere of operations is sectional (in the sense of covering several States) or national.
A secondary purpose of the bulletin is to show the extent to which junior colleges have been established in various parts of the country and recognized by accrediting agencies. The lists of accredited junior colleges are therefore presented separately. As typical of the relationship existing between junior colleges and State universities, the plan of affiliation adopted by the University of Missouri may be cited.