What is Accreditation?
Accreditation is essentially a seal of approval from a third party confirming that an organization adheres to predefined quality benchmarks and industry standards.
What is the Significance of Accreditation?
For schools, accreditation is enormous; it can determine whether a degree or the granting institution is professionally recognized. Financial aid is only payable to accredited schools. Coursework from a non-accredited institution cannot be transferred to other schools for credit. Furthermore, maybe most importantly, employers will not accept a degree from unaccredited colleges or universities. Usually, schools that fail to meet accreditation criteria go out of business.
Conversely, accreditation status is far less impactful for honor societies. Many do elect to pursue accreditation to strengthen public & professional confidence in their organization. Third-party recognition can provide a competitive advantage by adding to the prestige enshrined by most honor societies.
Is Chi Beta Lambda Accredited?
Honor societies must be in operation for a minimum of five years to meet accreditation requirements by the Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS). The ACHS is the primary accrediting body within our field. Chi Beta Lambda will not be eligible to apply for accreditation until the academic year 2025-2026. At that time, we will evaluate our members’ interests and our member institutions’ needs to determine if we will move in that direction.
Does Chi Beta Lambda Intend to Pursue Accreditation?
Presently, Chi Beta Lambda has mixed feelings regarding honor society accreditation. Overall, the concept of accreditation is positive. We think organizations must hold themselves to a high standard and conduct themselves accordingly. Moreover, tangible evidence of an organization’s quality is critical to establish and maintain public trust. We want each and every one of our stakeholders to believe in Chi Beta Lambda and feel comfortable doing business with us.
However, we disagree with many of the coveted criteria required for honor society accreditation. Traditional academia is not student-centered. Students’ needs & preferences received little consideration until recent decades. Honor societies adhere to standard corporate design and impose strict operational, structural, and governance regulations. Most CBL programs and schools simply cannot satisfy conventional honor societies’ rigid standards. In fact, that is the primary reason no honor society for CBL has existed before now. To offer flexible, student-centered learning models, schools must eliminate part of the traditional academic structure (e.g., letter grades, timed-courses, due dates, semesters, etc.) that honor societies require.
The current industry standard of an honor society is fundamentally incongruent with CBL. We could only create one for these programs and individuals by reimagining the definition, function, & design of an honor society. Chi Beta Lambda was created to meet the unique needs of CBL. Rather than changing the way we operate to meet accreditation criteria, we aim to redefine the industry standard. Honor societies are overdue for a culture change; they should be more inclusive, progressive, flexible, & practical to meet the needs of modern learners and their programs.