ABET is a nonprofit, non-governmental accrediting agency for programs in applied and natural science, computing, engineering and engineering technology and we are recognized as an accreditor by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
ABET accreditation provides assurance that a college or university program meets the quality standards of the profession for which that program prepares graduates.
We accredit programs, not institutions. We provide specialized accreditation for post-secondary programs within degree-granting institutions already recognized by national or regional institutional accreditation agencies or national education authorities worldwide.
Our accreditation is voluntary, and to date, over 3,800 programs at more than 770 colleges and universities in 31 countries have received ABET accreditation. Approximately 85,000 students graduate from ABET-accredited programs each year, and millions of graduates have received degrees from ABET-accredited programs since 1932.
ABET accreditation is proof that a collegiate program has met standards essential to produce graduates ready to enter the critical fields of applied science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology. Graduates from an ABET-accredited program 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. Graduates of ABET-accredited programs who work in applied science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology can seek professional recognition by enhancing their credentials through licensure, registration, and certification programs where appropriate. Graduation from an ABET-accredited program is increasingly a required minimum credential for such professional recognition.
We do not provide licensure, registration, or certification services for individuals. However, throughout our history, we have contributed significantly to the education of students who later seek official recognition of their qualifications to serve the public.
In the United States, for example, where licensure for the engineering and surveying professions is regulated at the state level, graduation from an ABET-accredited program is almost universally required to validate the educational experience of applicants. In states where non-ABET graduates are permitted to be licensed, an additional four to eight years of work experience may be required.
Many jurisdictions require graduation from an ABET-accredited program as a minimum qualification for registration to practice because it signifies preparation for entry into the profession. For example, United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)requires applicants in computing to have graduated from an ABET-accredited program before they are eligible to sit for the Examination for Registration to Practice in Patent Cases.
To promote the global career mobility of technical professionals, we participate in a number of Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA). Graduates of programs accredited by an agency that is a signatory to these MRAs may be recognized for the purposes of licensure, registration, or certification.
Because such recognition:
- Demonstrates your competency, qualification, and expertise in professional practice.
- Shows your commitment to understanding professional, ethical, and societal responsibilities.
- Emphasizes the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare within society.
Licensure and certification, however, differ in terms of legal status.
Licensure refers to the demonstration of ability or knowledge required by law before being allowed to perform a task or job.
Certifications earned from professional societies provide important opportunities for recognition of an individual’s professional knowledge and experience that are portable and that can provide feedback on the knowledge transfer that occurs within academic programs.
Candidates interested in pursuing licensure, registration, and certifications are encouraged to check information provided by the National Society of Professional Engineers as well as this list of state-by-state requirements maintained by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, as the requirements vary by state and territory.
Accreditation is a review process to determine if educational programs meet defined standards of quality. Once achieved, accreditation is not permanent—it is renewed periodically to ensure that the quality of the educational program is maintained.
In the United States, academic accreditation is voluntary, decentralized, and carried out by many non-governmental, non-profit organizations. The process of academic accreditation typically culminates in an external quality review by a team of professional experts from academe or industry. These experts volunteer their time, professional knowledge, and experience to this process of quality assurance and ongoing improvement to education in their disciplines.
In other countries, accreditation may be required or governmental. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)provides information about accreditation and quality assurance in countries outside of the United States.
We accredit post-secondary, degree-granting programs offered by regionally accredited institutions in the United States and nationally accredited institutions outside the United States. We do not accredit certification, training, or doctoral programs.
APPLIED AND NATURAL SCIENCE PROGRAMS
Our Applied and Natural Science Accreditation Commission (ANSAC) accredits applied and natural science programs at the following levels: associate (two-year degree), bachelor (four-year degree), and master (post-graduate).
Our Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC) accredits computing programs at the following level: bachelor (four-year degree). Search for computing programs with ABET’s Accredited Program Search.
Our Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) accredits engineering programs at the following levels: bachelor (four-year degree) and master (post-graduate).
ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS
Our Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission (ETAC) accredits engineering technology programs at the following levels: associate (two-year degree) and bachelor (four-year degree). Search for applied science programs with ABET’s Accredited Program Search.
Both the program seeking accreditation and the institution in which it is housed must meet eligibility requirements for ABET accreditation.
1. MEET ABET’S DEFINITION OF A PROGRAM
We accredit programs only—not degrees, departments, colleges, institutions, or individuals. We define a program as an integrated, organized experience that culminates in the awarding of a degree. The program will have program educational objectives, student outcomes, a curriculum, faculty, and facilities, as described in the accreditation criteria. We do not accredit certification, training, or doctoral programs.
2. BE HOUSED IN A DEGREE-GRANTING INSTITUTION
We accept Requests for Evaluation (RFE) from post-secondary programs offered by degree-granting institutions with verifiable and recognized governmental, national, or regional authority to confer degrees. In some cases, an institution that does not meet this requirement may request an evaluation for a program if that program’s accreditation furthers ABET’s Mission.
3. HAVE AT LEAST ONE GRADUATE
Programs requesting an initial accreditation review must have at least one graduate prior to the academic year when the on-site review occurs.
4. NAME MUST MEET ABET REQUIREMENTS
The name of a program seeking accreditation must be descriptive of the program’s content and be stated exactly the same way on the graduate’s transcript and in the institution’s literature.
Programs outside the U.S. where English is not the native language, must provide the program’s name both in English and in the native language(s). An institution may not use the same program name to identify both an ABET-accredited program and a program that is not ABET-accredited.
5. BE ACCREDITABLE UNDER AT LEAST ONE ABET ACCREDITATION COMMISSION
Each program seeking accreditation will be assigned to a specific commission or commissions based upon the literal name of the program:
Applied Science Accreditation Commission (ASAC)
Programs accredited by ASAC are those leading to professional practice utilizing science, mathematics, and engineering concepts as a foundation for discipline-specific practice. ASAC accredits programs at the following degree levels: associate, bachelor, and master.
Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC)
Programs accredited by CAC are those leading to professional practice across the broad spectrum of computing, computational, information, and informatics disciplines. CAC accredits programs at the following degree level: bachelor.
Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC)
Programs accredited by EAC are those leading to the professional practice of engineering. All engineering programs requesting ABET review must include the word “engineering” in the program name. EAC accredits programs at the following degree levels: bachelor and master.
Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission (ETAC)
Programs accredited by ETAC prepare baccalaureate degree graduates for careers as engineering technologists and prepare associate degree graduates for careers as engineering technicians. The name of every ETAC-accredited program that includes the word “engineering” in the name of the program must also include the word “technology” directly after the word “engineering.” ETAC accredits programs at the following degree levels: associate and bachelor.
6. SOME PROGRAMS MUST UNDERGO A READINESS REVIEW
We require a preliminary Self-Study Report from all programs seeking initial accreditation, if the institution has no currently ABET-accredited programs in that same commission. After a review of this preliminary Self-Study Report, which is called the Readiness Review, we will determine whether or not an institution is ready to submit a formal Request for Evaluation (RFE) for that program.
Engineering vs. Engineering Technology
Engineering and engineering technology are separate but closely related professional areas that differ in:
- Curricular Focus – Engineering programs often focus on theory and conceptual design, while engineering technology programs usually focus on application and implementation. Engineering programs typically require additional, higher-level mathematics, including multiple semesters of calculus and calculus-based theoretical science courses, while engineering technology programs typically focus on algebra, trigonometry, applied calculus, and other courses that are more practical than theoretical in nature.
- Career Paths – Graduates from engineering programs are called engineers and often pursue entry-level work involving conceptual design or research and development. Many continue on to graduate-level work in engineering. Graduates of four-year engineering technology programs are called technologists, while graduates of two-year engineering technology programs are called technicians. These professionals are most likely to enter positions in sectors such as construction, manufacturing, product design, testing, or technical services and sales. Those who pursue further study often consider engineering, facilities management, or business administration.
There is much overlap between the fields. Engineers may pursue MBAs and open their own consulting firms, while technologists may spend their entire careers in design capacities.
For ABET accreditation, engineering and engineering technology programs are reviewed and accredited by two separate accreditation commissions, using two separate sets of accreditation criteria: the Engineering Accreditation Commission and the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission.
We respect the autonomy of each nation’s higher education quality assurance organization and do not interfere with existing or future accreditation activities in countries outside the U.S.
We take an active role in the global quality assurance process for technical education programs through numerous agreements with organizations worldwide. These include Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) and Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs). Please read about ABET’s international activities for detailed information about MRAs and MOUs.
We will conduct an accreditation review outside the U.S. only with explicit acknowledgement from all applicable national education authorities in that program’s country or region. In order to seek accreditation by ABET, programs outside of the U.S. must have each appropriate education authority, recognition or accreditation agency complete a Request for Acknowledgement form to be submitted with the formal Request for Evaluation.
The ABET accreditation process for programs located outside of the United States (U.S.) is identical to the accreditation process for programs within the U.S.
- A program seeking accreditation in a country where English is not the native language must provide its program name both in English and in the native language. English translation of a program name should be based on the technical content, not the literal translation of the program name, so that ABET can designate the appropriate accreditation commission(s) and determine the applicable criteria.
- Official transcripts must be provided in English or come with a certified/official English translation.
- The self-study report and other documents provided to the review team must be in English.
- Programs must be able to prepare for and receive a visiting review team conducting activities in English. All visit activities will be conducted in English.
ABET accreditation evaluation is an 18-month, five-step process.
ABET accreditation is the culmination of a practice of ongoing self-assessment and continuous improvement, which assures confidence that ABET-accredited programs are meeting the needs of their students, preparing graduates to enter their careers, and responsive to the needs of the professions and the world. This process has to be initiated by the institution.
An overview of the typical path that a program takes to become ABET-accredited
Before the 18 month Accreditation Process
Step 1: Complete the Readiness Review by October 1
- Readiness Review Completed
- Begin Self-Study Report
before your On-Site Visit
- Collect samples of student work, syllabi, textbooks, and sample assignments.
- Complete your Readiness Review (if required) by October 1.
The 18 month Accreditation Process
Step 2: Submit your Request for Evaluation by January 31
- Submit Your Request for Evaluation
Year of your On-Site Visit
- Submit your Request for Evaluation (RFE) by January 31 of the year of your program’s On-Site Visit.
- We will invoice your institution for the On-Site Visit, set a visit date, and form a review team between April and May.
Step 3: Complete and submit your Self-Study Report by July 1
- Submit Self-Study Report
- Attend Institutional Representatives Day
Year of your On-Site Visit
- Complete and submit your Self-Study Report to us no later than July 1.
- The review team assigned to your program begins reviewing your Self-Study Report.
- Attend the Institutional Representatives Day. Your program’s institutional representative is invited to meet your review team chair at this annual event, held in Baltimore, MD, in July.
Step 4: The On-Site Visit takes place September – December
- Schedule and Prepare for the On-Site Visit.
- Undergo 1-3 day On-Site Visit
- Prepare for your On-Site Visit. Finalize the visit schedule, arrange student and faculty interviews, and, finally, set up rooms with display materials for the review team. You should begin planning and preparation months in advance.
- Your On-Site Visit typically lasts three days (usually Sunday through Tuesday). It includes a review of your materials; interviews with students, faculty, staff, and administrators; and concludes with an exit meeting, when the team will convey its findings.
Step 5: Due Process and the Accreditation Decision
- Schedule and Prepare for the On-Site Visit.
- Undergo 1-3 day On-Site Visit.
- 1 Week After the Visit
Provide the review team with any errors of fact resulting from the exit meeting.
- 2-3 months after the visit
Your institution receives the Draft Statement, a formal communication of your review team’s findings.
- 3-4 months after the visit
During the 30-Day Due Process period your institution responds to any shortcomings identified in the Draft Statement.
The ABET commissions meet to decide Accreditation Actions in July. At this meeting your program’s accreditation is discussed and determined.
- By August 31
Your program is formally notified of the accreditation action via the Final Statement to the institution.
The true benefits of accreditation lie in the on-going process of assessment that lays the foundation for programmatic success. The program assessment planning process is related to the following
1. ESTABLISH PURPOSE (MISSION STATEMENT) AND SET GOALS (TIMELINE)
Assessment planning begins with the institutional mission statement, which describes the communities that are served and the institutional purposes and other characteristics that define your institution. At the same time, your institution’s assessment leader should work with an appropriate mix of faculty and administrators to develop a plan of action and timeline to ensure departmental assessment goals and deadlines are met.
2. DEFINE/REFINE PROGRAM EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVES AND STUDENT OUTCOMES
Program educational objectives are based on the needs of the program’s constituencies and are expressed in broad statements that describe what graduates are expected to attain within a few years of graduation. Student outcomes relate to the knowledge, skills, and behaviors that students acquire as they progress through the program and describe what students are expected to know and be able to do by the time of graduation. Defining educational objectives and student outcomes provides faculty with a common understanding of the expectations for student learning and supports consistency across the curriculum, as measured by performance indicators. Performance indicators represent the knowledge, skills, attitudes or behavior students should be able to demonstrate by the time of graduation that indicate competence related to the outcome.
3. DESIGN AND CONDUCT ASSESSMENTS
Assessments offer a framework through which you can identify, collect, and prepare data to evaluate the attainment of student outcomes and program educational objectives. Effective assessments use relevant direct, indirect, quantitative, and qualitative measures appropriate to the outcome or objective being measured. Appropriate sampling methods may be used as part of an assessment process.
Efficient and effective assessment strategies require an understanding of the alignment between educational practices and strategies. This can be accomplished by mapping educational strategies (which could include co-curricular activities) to learning outcomes. Strategies for data collection and analysis need to be systematic and consistent, and focus on assessment related to the performance indicators.
4. EVALUATE ASSESSMENT FINDINGS
Evaluation processes interpret the data and evidence accumulated through the assessment process and determine the extent to which student outcomes and program educational objectives are being attained. Thoughtful evaluation of findings is essential to ensure that decisions and actions taken as a result of the assessment process will lead to program improvement.
5. USE RESULTS FOR DECISION MAKING
Assessment provides a framework for a meaningful feedback process, which is critical to strategic decision-making. Creating and maintaining an ongoing quality assurance system helps to keep your program relevant to the professions it serves, supports the highest quality student experience, and confirms that your graduates are well prepared for their careers.
Once your program has been notified of the accreditation action, you should review the dos and don’ts of releasing accreditation information in Section II.A of the Accreditation Policy and Procedure Manual before promoting a program’s accreditation.
Programs that receive Not-to-Accredit (NA) actions may be candidates for appeals, reconsiderations, and immediate re-visits.
Reporting Program Changes
Accredited programs are responsible for notifying ABET of any changes that might impact a program’s compliance with our accreditation criteria or policies.