The Higher Education Accrediting Commission (HEAC) was founded in 1926 under the name of “National Home Study Council” to promote education quality and ethical business practices for correspondence education programs. In 1955, the Accrediting Commission was established. It created and implemented accreditation standards and procedures to examine and approve distance learning institutions. In 1959, the Accrediting Commission received its first grant of federal recognition and was listed by the U.S. Commissioner (now Secretary) of Education as an institutional accreditor. In 1994, the name of the organization changed from the National Home Study Council to the Distance Education and Training Council, and in 2015, was changed to the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.
The DEAC is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) as an institutional accrediting organization for postsecondary distance education institutions that offer programs primarily by the distance education method from the non-degree level up to and including the professional doctoral degree.
HEAC’s goal is to ensure a high standard of educational quality in the distance education institutions it accredits by requiring compliance with its published standards, policies and procedures and by fostering continual self-improvement.
Recognition by the U.S. Department of Education
DEAC initially received federal recognition in 1959 and has continually held recognition by the U.S. Department of Education ever since. Federal recognition aims to ensure that accreditors meet expectations for institutional and program participation in federal activities, such as federal financial aid programs. Currently, the federal recognition process is largely carried out by the National Advisory Committee for Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI). The NACIQI provides recommendations to the U.S. Secretary of Education concerning whether accreditation standards are sufficiently rigorous and effective toward ensuring that a recognized accreditor is a reliable authority regarding the quality of the education provided by the institution it accredits. In June 2017, The U.S. Department of Education staff and the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) recommended that DEAC receive renewed recognition as a nationally recognized accrediting agency for a period of five years. Upon review of these recommendations, the U.S. Department of Education renewed DEAC’s recognition for a period of five years.DEAC’s scope of recognition by the Secretary of Education is:
The accreditation of postsecondary institutions in the United States that offer degree and/or non-degree programs primarily by the distance or correspondence education method up to and including the professional doctoral degree, including those institutions that are specifically certified by the agency as accredited for Title IV purposes.
Recognition by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
CHEA was formed in 1996 by presidents of U.S. colleges and universities to strengthen higher education through strengthened accreditation processes. It promotes academic quality through formal recognition of higher education accrediting bodies and works to advance self-regulation in higher education through accreditation. Recognition by CHEA affirms that the standards, policies and procedures of accrediting organizations meet the academic quality, institutional improvement and accountability expectations CHEA has established. DEAC first received recognition by CHEA in 2001. It received its most recent grant of recognition from CHEA in 2013. DEAC’s scope of recognition by CHEA is:
The accreditation of higher learning institutions in the United States and international locations that offer programs of study that are delivered primarily by distance (51 percent or more) and award credentials at the associate, baccalaureate, master’s, first professional and professional doctoral degree level.
International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education
The International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE) is a world-wide association of over 280 governmental and private organizations that promote and advance excellence in higher education through the active support of an international community of quality assurance agencies and the promotion of quality assurance for the benefit of higher education, institution, students and society at large. Established in 1991, INQAAHE focuses on the development of the theory and practice of quality assurance, the exchange and understanding of the policies and actions of its members, and a commitment to the idea that quality and quality assurance are primarily the responsibility of higher education institutions. HEAC received recognition as a full member of INQAAHE in 2017.