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ABET Accreditation

What is accreditation?

Accreditation is the voluntary, peer review process utilized by higher education institutions and industry practitioners to evaluate academic degree programs. It provides assurance that a program or institution meets established quality standards. The accreditation process is also used by universities, colleges and specific degree programs to clarify instructional goals and objectives, enhance program content and improve program delivery.

Institutional and program accreditation status is an important guarantee of quality to prospective:

  • students and faculty
  • employers
  • governing boards
  • government agencies
  • funding sources

Accreditation is critical to the continued success and growth of our optics and photonics community. It provides assurance that the professionals that serve us have a solid educational foundation and are capable of leading the way in innovation, emerging technologies, and in anticipating the welfare and safety needs of the public.

What is the Accreditation Process?

Every 6 years, all programs wishing to retain ABET accreditation must complete a self-study that details how the program is meeting ABET's criteria for accreditation. This document, usually several hundred pages long, provides evidence of the programs objectives and outcomes (what students should be able to do when and after they graduate) and the assessment processes that are in place to evaluate whether these objectives and outcomes have been met.

Following submission of the self-study, a team of Program Evaluators (PEVs) is sent to the campus for a site visit. The team meets with administrators, faculty, staff, students, and other constituencies (such as industrial representatives) to gain further information on whether the criteria set by ABET are being met.

The evaluation team drafts a report listing strengths, concerns, and weaknesses in the program. Concerns and weaknesses are areas that need to be addressed by the program – either immediately (weakness) or before the next general visit (concern). If no weaknesses are identified, the program may be granted accreditation until the "Next General Review" – for six years. If weaknesses are identified, the program may be asked to submit an "Interim Report" and possibly to have an "Interim Visit" in order to see if progress is being made on addressing the weaknesses. Those occur on 2-year cycles.

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