Objectives, and Purposes
of Accreditation in Journalism
and Mass Communications
is to assure
basic standards of excellence.
Accreditation is a system of voluntary self-assessment and external review
of educational institutions and of professional programs offered by those
Accreditation provides an assurance of quality to students, parents, and
In the accrediting process, the performance of educational units is measured
against national standards.
The organization that oversees external review and grants accreditation
of journalism and mass communications programs is the Accrediting Council
on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC).
Objectives and Purposes of Accreditation
From the beginnings of our democratic society, the First Amendment to
the U.S. Constitution has provided guarantees of free press and free speech.
These freedoms have enabled journalism and mass communications to become
important, powerful components of American democracy.
Ideas, information, and images find expression in a variety of forms:
newspapers, magazines, radio, television, advertising, public relations,
business communications, databases, and other digital formats.
Practitioners in the media are held to high standards. Most practitioners
by far learn skills, ethics, history, and theories of journalism and mass
communications in professional programs at colleges and universities.
Professors in these programs play a special role in preparing students
for careers in journalism and mass communications.
ACEJMC supports the ideals of professional education through the accrediting
process. Accredited programs must satisfy nine standards setting forth the
objectives of professional education in journalism and mass communications.
The standards encourage improvement and innovation and recognize the special
or unique missions of individual institutions.
Values and Benefits of Accreditation
The process of accreditation requires a rigorous self-examination. Each
unit measures its performance against its own mission and goals and against
the nine accrediting standards. Once the self-study is completed, the unit
undergoes external evaluation, first by a site-visit team composed of
peers and practitioners, then by the Accrediting Committee. The full Accrediting
Council makes final decisions on accreditation status.
Each unit that applies for accreditation is measured on its own performance.
It is not compared with other units, nor are units ranked. ACEJMC encourages
research and innovation. The thorough and detailed process of accreditation
typically results in progress and improvement by each program. Seen from
various perspectives, the value of accreditation becomes even more clear.
- Students and prospective students
Accreditation is an assurance of quality in professional education in
journalism and mass communications. Students in an accredited program
can expect to find a challenging curriculum, appropriate resources and
facilities, and a competent faculty. Accredited programs may offer scholarships,
internships, competitive prizes, and other activities unavailable in
Parents want to know their children will have an educational experience
of high quality that will help prepare them for a career. Accredited
programs in journalism and mass communications offer the assurance that
they have been evaluated by academic peers and leading practitioners
and have met the tests of the nine standards.
- Secondary teachers and guidance counselors
High-school teachers and guidance counselors can influence students'
choices of college or career. To these advisers, accreditation provides
a sound basis for recommendation.
- College and university administrators
Accreditation provides external validation to university administrators
that a program on their campus is recognized by national academic and
professional organizations. Many administrators believe that accreditation
confers prestige, which aids in fund-raising.
- Accredited programs
Measuring the educational merit and relevance of the program typically
brings improvements, both through the internal examination by the staff
and administrators and through the insights of external evaluators.
More-over, accreditation enhances the stature and reputation of a program.
- Media and mass communications professionals
Practitioners seeking to hire entry-level or more experienced candidates
know that accredited programs prepare students with a solid professional
education and a firm grounding in the liberal arts and sciences.
- Governmental and public agencies
Accredited status is an important criterion in the evaluation by government
agencies of proposals to fund scholarships and research.
- The public
To a public concerned about the performance of the media, accreditation
offers an assurance that those entering journalism and mass communications
are appropriately educated.
Methods and Principles of Accreditation
Accreditation of specialized academic programs in the United States takes
place outside the control of government. This separation differs from practices
in most other countries; in fact, the emphasis on voluntary peer review
is unique in the world. The non-governmental nature of accreditation has
special meaning in journalism and mass communications because of the guarantees
of free press and free speech in the First Amendment.
Accreditation by ACEJMC is voluntary. Educational units must initiate
the process through a rigorous self-evaluation. ACEJMC accredits units
(colleges, schools or departments) that offer, as a major part of their
curriculum, professional programs to prepare students for careers in journalism
and mass communications.
Bachelor's and master's degree programs at four-year colleges and universities
are eligible to apply for accreditation. To maintain accreditation, a
unit must be reviewed every six years.
ACEJMC is strongly committed to the idea that journalism and mass communications
majors should get a broad background in the liberal arts and sciences
in addition to the skills and theories taught in professional programs.
Graduates need a solid foundation in such fields as economics, basic sciences,
environment, ethics, law, political science, and history. These fields
are central to the information they will handle. The accrediting standards
require that students take about 75 percent of their course loads in liberal
arts and sciences courses taught outside the journalism/mass communications
The nine standards that constitute the basis of accreditation were developed
by educators and working professionals. They recognize institutional diversity:
the unique mission, situation, and resources of each program. The standards
by which units are evaluated cover such areas as instruction, curriculum,
teaching, facilities, resources, research, and diversity.
Each unit is asked to identify its own goals and challenges. In the accrediting
process, a unit is measured on how effectively it has met its own goals
in the context of the standards.
The Process of Accreditation
The ACEJMC has developed a process of accreditation that follows four steps.
- The unit undertakes a self-study, a rigorous and detailed examination
of the program by faculty, administrators, and students.
- A team consisting of educators and professionals visits the campus
to assess curriculum, faculty, administration, students, facilities,
- The national Accrediting Committee, composed of educators and professionals,
each year reviews and discusses the reports of all the site teams and
votes whether to recommend each unit to the Accrediting Council for
- The national Accrediting Council reviews the work of the site teams
and the recommendations of the Accrediting Committee and takes final
Meetings of the Accrediting Committee and Accrediting Council are open.
The accrediting process offers opportunities for units to respond to the
findings of the site teams and the Committee and to appeal actions of
The History of ACEJMC
Accreditation in journalism and mass communications was established in 1945.
The organization formed to administer accreditation was called the American
Council on Education in Journalism. The name was changed in 1980 to the
Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.
ACEJMC is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation
as the agency that accredits programs for professional education in journalism
and mass communications at colleges and universities in the United States.
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