UPDATE Following regulatory changes that took effect in July 2020, all accrediting agencies recognised by the US Department of Education are now permitted to accredit higher education institutions anywhere in the United States.
Previously, some agencies were classified as ‘regional’ and were only permitted to cover certain geographical areas within the country. The recent change means there will no longer be a distinction between ‘regional’ and ‘national’ accreditation bodies.
To a certain extent, the update to the regulations reflects how accreditation operates in practice. All recognised institutional accrediting bodies, regional and national, were already required to meet the same standards. Some of the agencies previously classified as ‘regional’ currently review educational provision outside of their geographical areas in order to accredit branch campuses and additional locations.
As a result of the changes, some accrediting agencies may start to accredit institutions outside of their traditional regions.