Colleges and universities in the U.S. voluntarily seek accreditation from nongovernmental groups of peer professionals. Voluntary accreditation is a uniquely American process and has two fundamental purposes: quality assurance and institutional program improvement. Six regional agencies rely on the following process for conferring accreditation: thorough institutional self-evaluation, peer review, and institutional response. The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) is the accrediting agency for Illinois.
The NCA does not accredit individual programs. Rather, it evaluates organizations as a whole. Besides assessing formal educational activities, it evaluates such things as governance and administration, financial stability, admissions and student services, institutional resources, student learning, institutional effectiveness, and relationships with internal and external constituencies. The NCA looks for tangible evidence that organizations understand and are achieving their mission. They also look for evidence that they are effectively using self assessment to improve the university, particularly in the area of teaching and learning.
IIT has had continuous accreditation from the NCA since 1941 (the university’s predecessors, Armour and Lewis institutes, were first accredited in 1913). NCA’s most recent ten-year accreditation period occurred in 1997.