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Authorization and Accreditation

Authorization of Institutions and Programs

Oversight of degree-granting institutions in the United States is often thought of as the responsibility of a triad comprising state agencies, nongovernmental accrediting bodies, and the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). All degree-granting institutions that have a physical presence in New York must have authorization from the Board of Regents to operate as a college or university. This applies to both New York institutions and those based out-of-state. The State Education Department reviews, approves, and registers all individual programs of study leading to degrees and credit-bearing certificates according to standards of academic quality in the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. Together, Regents authorization to confer degrees and State Education Department program registration make up the mandatory State approval process.

The Inventory of Registered Programs provides a list of authorized New York institutions and their registered programs.

Merger, Consolidation, and Membership

Many Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) across New York State are experiencing enrollment, financial, and operational challenges, and are increasingly exploring partnership opportunities with other institutions to offer more attractive programs, share services, achieve efficiencies, and possibly operate in more than one location. In response, the Department has issued guidance to inform the field of the procedures and possibilities for merger, consolidation, or membership between IHEs in New York as well as potential not-for-profit partners.


Accreditation is distinct from State Education Department approval of programs. Accreditation is a voluntary process by which institutions of higher education engage in rigorous self-evaluation and planning before undergoing assessment by peer reviewers. The USDE evaluates and recognizes organizations that serve as accrediting agencies for entire institutions and for programs in particular disciplines. Institutional accreditation by a USDE-recognized agency is required for colleges and universities to participate in federal funding programs under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended. Programmatic accreditation may be sought by institutions to ensure that their programs of study in specialized fields meet standards of quality and the requirements of licensing or certification boards, where applicable. 

Information on institutional and programmatic accreditation can be found on the USDE’s website and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s (CHEA’s) website.  

The USDE maintains a comprehensive Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs

Teacher, Educational Leader, and School Counselor Program Accreditation 

Information on the required accreditation of programs leading to certification in these fields in New York State can be found here.