You are probably familiar with the Higher Learning Commission accreditation, but what is ACICS? The short answer is that it is an alternative accrediting organization for educational institutions.

When you research a school, one of the first things you should consider is its accreditation. If a school doesn’t list an accreditation on its website, the issues deserves at least some research. In addition, some schools might list an accrediting organization that is totally unfamiliar to you. Anyone can accredit a program, but only certain organizations are recognized by the US Department of Education.

What is ACICS Accreditation?

The acronym stands for the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.

According to their home website, ACICS is the second largest accrediting organization in the nation that is recognized by the US Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education. It has been around since 1912.

Resource: Top 30 Colleges For An Associate’s Degree in Hospitality

Many colleges are independent, especially those that offer degree programs in hospitality or culinary management. Still, they must adhere to the same high standards that other colleges recognize. One of the requirements for the accreditation of larger schools is an educational goal and a large enough budget with endowments and student tuitions and fees to meet that goal. Smaller schools often operate on “shoestring budgets” and so that criteria is not especially helpful to accreditation. Hospitality schools, for instance, may be operated by hotel chains or other companies and offer limited programs.

How do Schools Become Accredited by ACICS?

Schools must apply for accreditation. They must meet certain qualifications including classification as a post-secondary school offering certificates, or degrees. It must has to enroll students in one or more programs, be legally organized and produce a sufficient number of graduates for the ACICS to assess how well their programs prepare graduates for employment in their career fields. The school first does a self-audit, and then schedules a visit from ACICS officials.

Why is Accreditation a Big Deal?

For one thing, it ensures that your curriculum is rigorous enough to make you competitive in the job market. This is especially true in the hospitality industry. “H Careers” says even in the soft economy hospitality is growing. Hotels and spas are open 24/7,and that means there are a lot of positions open from room service to upper-level management, but that demand for workers is also fueled by the increase in travel. There are an estimated 11.3 million people employed in the culinary field of hospitality alone. That means there is a lot of competition for jobs.

People applying for upper-level management positions will find that they must compete with applicants from top-notch accredited schools. In addition, if you intend to earn certifications in hospitality specializations to add to your resume, you must have the prerequisite courses for the programs. Credits earned from an unaccredited school may not transfer. That means you will have wasted time, money and effort in attaining them. Often non-management people might take short courses to help them advance in their jobs, for instance as a food-service assistant, but if the curriculum is sub-standard, they won’t have the skills necessary to be promoted.

Accreditation is crucial to the ability of a school to meet your educational expectations and to achieving standards of career proficiency. Even small, specialty schools such as hospitality academies operated by hotel chains should be accredited for the protection of the student. If the school you are considering is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, you can know your investment of time and money will pay off in an exciting career.