Accreditation Definition

Accreditation is a status granted to an educational institution or a program that has been found to meet or exceed stated standards of educational quality. In the United States, accreditation is voluntarily sought by institutions and programs and is conferred by non-governmental bodies.


Accreditation serves as a vehicle that allows the program to examine itself in relation to a specific set of standards. The program is analyzed by objective outsiders, using the same set of standards and the stated program mission as a frame of reference. The analysis is designed to recognize and commend program strengths and to be open about the program concerns.

About Accreditation

Accreditation has two fundamental purposes: to validate the quality of the institution or program and to assist in the improvement of the institution or program. As a result, the accreditation process does not prescribe specific practices, but is concerned, from a qualitative standpoint, that:

a. the program has clearly defined, appropriate objectives,
b. the program has established the conditions under which those objective can be achieved,
c. the program is in essence achieving their objectives presently, and
d. the program is able to continue to achieve its objectives in the foreseeable future.

Accreditation, which applies to institutions or programs, is to be distinguished from certification and licensure, which apply to individuals.

Objectives of Accreditation Process

The material that follows represents the overall and specific objectives developed by the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA).

A. Definitions


Accreditation is a communal self-regulatory process by which voluntary associations (1) recognize educational institutions or programs that have been found to meet or exceed stated standards of educational quality; and (2) assist in further improvement of the institutions or programs.The first of these purposes is called quality-assessment; the second, quality-enhancement.


The quality of an entity or process cannot be determined by the possession of a fixed series of characteristics, but only in terms of the objectives or purposes it seeks to achieve. Quality, therefore, must be defined contextually. Educational quality thus requires determining (1) the appropriateness of institutional/program objectives, and (2) the effectiveness with which the institution/program is utilizing its resources to achieve these objectives.


Accrediting standards represent those generalized conditions or characteristics determined to be essential in order for objectives to be achieved. Standards are to be expressed qualitatively, be applicable to a diversity of institutions or programs, and must consider educational outcomes (outputs) as well as resources and processes (inputs). For standards to be valid, they must be capable of being derived from the educational objectives stated, and must be appropriate, clear, and explicit.

Hospitality Administration

Hospitality administration is defined as the decision-making process with respect to the proper allocation of resources to achieve the objectives of hospitality, i.e., the providing of food, lodging, and related services.

B. Overall Objectives of the Accreditation of Programs in Hospitality Administration

1. To provide public assurance that programs in hospitality administration are of acceptable quality.
2. To provide guidance to programs in the continued improvement of their educational offerings and related activities.
3. To promote higher educational and ethical standards of professional education and enhance the public understanding of the hospitality field.

C. Specific Objectives of Hospitality Administration Accreditation

To foster excellence in the field of hospitality administration by developing standards and guidelines for evaluating program effectiveness.

To ensure that the accrediting process recognizes and respects the diversity of programs in hospitality administration.
To ensure that the accrediting process evaluates not only the presence of essential resources and processes, but also the achievement of programmatic outcomes.

To require, as an integral part of the accrediting process, a programmatic self-study that is analytical, interpretive, and evaluative, and an on-site review by a visiting team of peers.

To encourage programs to view self-study and evaluation as a continuous internal obligation.

To provide counsel and assistance to both developing and established programs, including disseminating information between and among programs that will stimulate improvement of educational pro- grams and related activities.

To ensure that the evaluation, policy, and decision-making processes reflect the community of interests directly affected by the accrediting body, including effective public representation.


ACPHA™ consists of 11 Commissioners, including hospitality educators, representatives from hospitality and the related industries and a public at large member. The Commission members meet twice a year to review, assess and evaluate two-year and four-year hospitality programs at colleges and universities across the United States and internationally.

The current Chair for ACPHA™ is:

Stephanie Hein, Ed.D., MBA,CHE
Missouri State University
Hospitality and Restaurant Administration
901 South National Avenue
Springfield, MO 65897

Any program or individual interested in accreditation by ACPHA™ should contact the Commissions’ director of evaluation, Dorothy C. Fenwick, Ph.D. who may be reached by either telephone at (410) 226-5527, or by email at or

The Commissions’ mailing address is:
P.O. Box 400
Oxford, MD 21654