How does a college class get accredited?
November 30, 2012 10:41 AM   Subscribe

Education filter: How do you get a class accredited at a community college? Does it depend on the individual state or local system? Who would be the right people to talk to understand this process? Thank you!
posted by tessalations999 to Education (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you want to teach a class? What field? Where are you?
posted by hydrophonic at 10:43 AM on November 30, 2012

San Francisco, trying to develop a class (vocational training) and it would be great for it to have credit for students who participate.
posted by tessalations999 at 10:48 AM on November 30, 2012

Accredited for what - so students can transfer to the state 4-year school(s)? As part of a degree program at the CC? As part of a technical certification program?
posted by rtha at 10:49 AM on November 30, 2012

Accrediting comes from two sources: Your sate and the regional accrediting group. Usually, though, the state goes along with regional findings. In my experience, Accrediting is some what of a scam in that colleges never lose accreditation unless they are going under financially.
Further, I do not believe that individual courses are accredited by any outside group. Accrediting is for the school itself, unless a smaller unit within the school has professional accrediting to be done, ie, Law School, Business College.
posted by Postroad at 10:53 AM on November 30, 2012

This is actually a really complicated question to answer. The accreditation process begins at the school level. Individual classes aren't accredited, it's the programs they belong to that are credit/no credit. Generally classes are built into specific curriculum, and those programs are then evaluated during the reevaluation process for the school's accreditation, which takes place about every 6-8 years for WASC, who are the main body for CA accreditation. Your first step would be to talk to your school's administration, provided they are already an accredited institution.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 10:59 AM on November 30, 2012

If you want students to get credit for a class at a particular community college (this is not what "accredited" means, and I've never heard of "accredited classes"), then you would (1) need to have a relationship with the community college (typically, be employed as an instructor of some sort) and (2) the class would need to be proposed to and approved by the community college's curricular review committee. Then, it could appear in the course schedule, course catalog, etc.

You need to be taking to faculty at the community college about this.
posted by leahwrenn at 11:00 AM on November 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

I took a non-credit class at SF City College for a number of years; it was explicitly part of the continuing ed-no-credit offerings, but other classes of a similar nature and schedule were available with credit options. This is something that I imagine City College (if that's who you'd be offering it through) would help with arranging. As Postroad says, classes that are offered without any connection to an accredited institution are generally not eligible for "accreditation" in the sense you seem to be using it.
posted by rtha at 11:01 AM on November 30, 2012

I think perhaps you have confused "accreditation" (i.e. what other commenters have hit on) with a course being "credited" (i.e. worth college credit, as opposed to non-credit adult learner courses at many community colleges).

For a course to be worth credit, it probably either needs to be part of an established Associates program at the CC, or otherwise approved to transfer to a 4-year school. Most courses that carry credit are primarily academic in nature, not strictly "job training" or vocational.

Think about the non-credit courses you see in CC catalogs - computer skills, arts and crafts, public speaking, etc. They are skills based. If your class is similar it's doubtful it would ever be granted credit. Of course your definition of "vocational training" might include topics that are more academic, in which case you might be able to spin it as a pseudo-business course for credit.
posted by trivia genius at 11:01 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's not at all clear what question you are actually asking here, since (as has already been covered) "accrediting" does not mean what you seem to think it means. Courses are not accredited; institutions are.

Perhaps you are asking how to get hired to teach your course at a community college. In this case, the way to proceed would be to bring your CV/resume and a course description/syllabus to the head of whatever department or program the course would fit, and talk to them about whether they'd like to add it to their offerings.
posted by RogerB at 11:05 AM on November 30, 2012

It depends on the course itself. The above posters are pretty accurate in describing what institutional accreditation means. What I'm wondering (again, could you clarify?) is what kind of "credit" you want students to be able to receive.

The bottom line, particularly these days when educators need to justify their programs' existence, is that you'll want to figure out how this course fits into a curricular need. There's a general idea of "credit" as in "you can say on a transcript that you took this course," but it means nothing unless you can say "I took this class for a reason" (i.e., that it fit into the requirements of a program, even as an elective). So do your students simply want to show that they've taken a course in Underwater Basketweaving, or do they want three elective credits for it that count toward a degree in Advanced Basketry?

In each of the following cases, you would want to consider the course proposal through discussion with your community college's curriculum committee in that area (e.g., Arts and Sciences or Technologies or whatever). Those folks deal with these types of questions on a regular basis and will have the proper administrative context to know what you'll need to do. The other people you'll need to consult depend on what kind of credit you want students to receive.

--This doesn't sound like what you're going for, but as mentioned above, some community college courses are designed to be appropriate for college transfer (typically, things like liberal arts or business). In this case, you'll want to design the course so it fits state requirements, etc. The UC or CSU systems will have their own planners and requirements, so they're reasonable to consult, but again your curriculum committee will know whom to contact.

--Some courses, particularly in "enrichment" or "continuing studies" areas, are available for continuing education units, or CEUs. These ARE affiliated with professional organizations/state departments, and must therefore adhere to both your college's guidelines and the guidelines of the org in question. Examples would include things like CLE Hours (Continuing Legal Education) through the State Bar of California, ACE Hours (Approved Continuing Ed) through the Association of Social Work Boards or other credit hours through California's state licensing and regulation system.

--Some courses include standalone certification through external companies or organizations. For example, my husband does internet networking and studied for his CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) exam, with Cisco (you probably know this) being the company and certifying org. Our local CC offers two courses, "CCNA 1&2: Networking & Routing Basics" and "CCNA 3&4: Switching & WAN Access." Completing those prepares students to take the CCNA exam, and the cost of the exam is usually included in the course cost. This may or may not be affiliated with Cisco itself (the exam gets you the certification through Cisco), but you'll sure want to consult them extensively to make sure you're covering the objectives correctly and completely.
posted by Madamina at 12:11 PM on November 30, 2012

I came in to say what Madamina said about external org certification. Might make it more likely for schools to accept it for credit if you're certified by an authoritative body.

Also, SF city college is in danger of losing its accreditation by, I think, September of next year unless they make major changes. So they are maybe not the most solid choice, but it's the only one in the city.
posted by sarahnade at 2:15 PM on November 30, 2012

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