Overview of ABET Accreditation from the Perspective of Two-Year Programs

April Cheung
School of Engineering Technology, Polytechnic Institute, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, 47907, USA. Chair of the ETAC of ABET (2021-22)

Ismail Fidan
Department of Manufacturing and Engineering Technology, College of Engineering, Tennessee Tech University, Cookeville, TN 38505, USA. Member of ETAD of ABET

Venancio L. Fuentes
Department of Engineering Science and Technology, County College of Morris, Randolph, NJ 07869, USA. Chair of the Documents Committee of ETAC of ABET

Martin Reed
Master of Professional Studies in Project Management, School of Continuing Studies, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20001, USA. Chair of the Criteria Committee of ETAC of ABET
ifidan@tntech.edu

Abstract

Measuring the quality of education delivered by higher education institutions is an important indicator in presenting the value of degree-granting units to the external world. Accreditation authorization, known as the review and endorsement procedure of this quality measurement process, is handled by a number of accrediting bodies. In the U.S., ABET, a non-profit, non-governmental body with ISO 9001:2015 certification, is recognized as a leading organization accrediting higher education degree programs in the STEM field worldwide. This paper aims to provide an in-depth overview of ABET accreditation from the perspective of two-year programs.

Keywords: ABET, Accreditation, ETAC, CHEA, ISO, Program, Criteria

© 2022 under the terms of the J ATE Open Access Publishing Agreement

Introduction

Accreditation is a quality review term used in higher education to analyze and endorse the colleges, universities, and programs in terms of their quality assurance and continuous improvement. The entire accreditation review process is handled by an external organization (accreditation body) and it is a lengthy process [1].

According to Wikipedia, an authoritative body that performs accreditation is called an accreditation body. The International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) provide international recognition to accreditation bodies. In addition, there are many internationally-recognized accreditation bodies approved by the IAF and ILAC [2].

In the U.S., higher education institutions seek regional accreditation to illustrate the institution’s quality by maintaining their compliance with the standards and processes of the accreditation body. These bodies are recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) [3]. In CHEA, regional accrediting organizations are classified into six geographical zones, and shown in Figure 1.

Fig. 1. Regional Accrediting Organizations in the U.S. (Courtesy of CHEA)

Internationally, there are a number of accreditation bodies. Some of the largest accreditation bodies are listed below [2]: 

  • The Emirates International Accreditation Centre (EIAC) in the Middle East 
  • The Pakistan National Accreditation Council (PNAC), National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL), and Quality Council of India (QCI) in South Asia 
  • The China National Accreditation Board in East Asia 
  • The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) in Europe 
  • The National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) and the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ) in Oceania 
  • The South African National Accreditation System in Africa. 

Most of the accreditation bodies use the international standards issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). ISO is an independent, non-governmental, global organization with a membership of 167 national standardization bodies. Through its members, ISO brings together experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market-relevant international standards that support innovation and provide solutions to all global challenges [4]. 

There are agreements between accreditation bodies in their signatory countries and regions to recognize the programs accredited by these accreditation bodies as substantial equivalent for engineering and engineering technology programs. For example, the Washington Accord, the Sydney Accord, and the Dublin Accord focus on engineering and engineering technology programs.   

The Washington Accord is an international accreditation agreement for undergraduate professional engineering academic degrees between the bodies responsible for accreditation in signatory countries and regions. Established in 1989, the full signatories as of 2020 are Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States [5]. Another agreement is the Sydney Accord. The Sydney Accord is an agreement between the bodies responsible for accrediting engineering technologist qualification programs in each of the signatory countries. It recognizes the substantial equivalency of programs accredited by those bodies and recommends that graduates of accredited programs in any of the signatory countries be recognized by the other countries as having met the academic requirements for entry to the practice of engineering technologist [6]. 

In 2002, the national engineering organizations of Ireland, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Canada signed an agreement that mutually recognizes the qualifications which underpin the granting of Engineering Technician titles in the four countries. The Dublin Accord is similar in operation to the Washington and Sydney Accords [7]. 

When we examine the accreditation process for  Engineering, Engineering Technology, Applied/Natural Science, and Computing accreditation, the only internationally known and accepted quality authorization organization is ABET. ABET is a U.S. non-profit, non-government accreditation body. Although this organization is very well known for its bachelor of science degree accreditation, there is very little information about its coverage and services for the two-year degree programs. This paper presents the latest information about the ABET accreditation for two-year degree programs in engineering technology, applied/natural science, and computing. 

Internationally, there are a number of accreditation bodies. Some of the largest accreditation bodies are listed below [2]: 

  • The Emirates International Accreditation Centre (EIAC) in the Middle East 
  • The Pakistan National Accreditation Council (PNAC), National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL), and Quality Council of India (QCI) in South Asia 
  • The China National Accreditation Board in East Asia 
  • The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) in Europe 
  • The National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) and the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ) in Oceania 
  • The South African National Accreditation System in Africa. 

Most of the accreditation bodies use the international standards issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). ISO is an independent, non-governmental, global organization with a membership of 167 national standardization bodies. Through its members, ISO brings together experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market-relevant international standards that support innovation and provide solutions to all global challenges [4]. 

There are agreements between accreditation bodies in their signatory countries and regions to recognize the programs accredited by these accreditation bodies as substantial equivalent for engineering and engineering technology programs. For example, the Washington Accord, the Sydney Accord, and the Dublin Accord focus on engineering and engineering technology programs.   

The Washington Accord is an international accreditation agreement for undergraduate professional engineering academic degrees between the bodies responsible for accreditation in signatory countries and regions. Established in 1989, the full signatories as of 2020 are Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States [5]. Another agreement is the Sydney Accord. The Sydney Accord is an agreement between the bodies responsible for accrediting engineering technologist qualification programs in each of the signatory countries. It recognizes the substantial equivalency of programs accredited by those bodies and recommends that graduates of accredited programs in any of the signatory countries be recognized by the other countries as having met the academic requirements for entry to the practice of engineering technologist [6]. 

In 2002, the national engineering organizations of Ireland, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Canada signed an agreement that mutually recognizes the qualifications which underpin the granting of Engineering Technician titles in the four countries. The Dublin Accord is similar in operation to the Washington and Sydney Accords [7]. 

When we examine the accreditation process for  Engineering, Engineering Technology, Applied/Natural Science, and Computing accreditation, the only internationally known and accepted quality authorization organization is ABET. ABET is a U.S. non-profit, non-government accreditation body. Although this organization is very well known for its bachelor of science degree accreditation, there is very little information about its coverage and services for the two-year degree programs. This paper presents the latest information about the ABET accreditation for two-year degree programs in engineering technology, applied/natural science, and computing. 

2. ABET Accreditation Overview 

Accreditation in higher education is a collegial peer-review process that occurs periodically. There are two types of accreditations, institutional-based and program-based. In general, institutional-based accreditation focus on faculty and student success [3]. Depending on the program’s discipline, programs can also be accredited by national accreditation agencies such as ABET. ABET is a non-profit, non-governmental agency that accredits programs in natural science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology [8]. More than 2,200 academic, government, and industry volunteers participate in the accreditation activities. Volunteers go through extensive training on accreditation and are appointed by member societies. An ABET accreditation provides quality assurance that the program prepares graduates who meet the needs of the applicable profession. In addition, the review process verifies that students’ education experience meets the global standard for technical education in the profession.     

The accreditation activities of ABET are carried out by four different commissions: Applied and Natural Science Accreditation Commission (ANSAC), Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC), Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC), and Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission (ETAC). ABET accredits Associate, Bachelor, and Master level programs among the four commissions. ETAC was the first commission to accredit at the associate degree level (1947), followed by ANSAC (2000) and CAC (2019). 

Seeking ABET accreditation is approximately a two-year process. This process includes a  self-study report by the program, a peer review to gather evidence (accreditation visit), and a final judgment (accreditation action) by the commission on the accreditation status. The ABET accreditation process for a two-year associate degree program or a bachelor’s degree program is the same. The accreditation review activities (peer review) are supported by volunteers from the related professional societies. The applicable professional society (member society) appoints volunteers to review the program’s compliance with the criteria. The criteria are established and maintained by the professional community. There are differences between the requirements for an associate degree program and a bachelor’s degree program. Details on these differences are described in the next section.     

For students, there are many advantages to attending an ABET-accredited program [8]. In employment, ABET accreditation enhances employment opportunities within the country and internationally. Graduation from an ABET-accredited program is a minimum qualification for some licensure, registration, and certification. On the financial front, accreditation, both at the institution and program level, establishes students’ eligibility for many federal student loans, grants, and scholarships [9]. In 2022, among the class of 2020, 55% of bachelor’s degree recipients received student loans. ABET accreditation establishes students’ eligibility for many federal student loans, grants, and scholarships. Many students earn their associate degree from an ABET-accredited program in transfer credits and then transfer to a bachelor’s degree program. Although institutions have their guidelines for transfer credits, courses from ABET-accredited programs are often accepted as applicable for meeting degree requirements at the four-year level in a similar program. 

ABET accreditation adds value to the program by ensuring that the program has met standards essential to prepare graduates to enter critical STEM fields in the global workforce. Two-year colleges serve a broad audience, from those seeking a traditional transfer program to a four-year institution, through the completion of associates in science or arts, to those looking for specialized courses or training that will lead to a job. Companies looking for the labor force needed to meet their needs will seek partnerships with two-year colleges because of their ability to adapt the curriculum to the company’s needs. In return, companies will provide equipment or funding and assist the students in the program. For example, John Deere has several technician training partnerships with two-year colleges across the country. According to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and Workforce, these middle-skill jobs are just some of the 16 million openings needed to be filled by 2024. These jobs require more than a high school diploma but not a bachelor’s degree, and a two-year college is a place to meet those needs [10]. 

Two-year colleges in many states are also closely associated with career centers that offer education in the trades, both at the secondary and post-secondary levels. Two-year colleges are uniquely qualified to fill the skills gap with specialized training and coursework needed to meet the demands of employers. These agreements put two-year schools in a position to provide stackable credentials; a participant can take the minimum number of courses required to earn a certificate, leading to an entry-level position. From this point, students can expand their education with additional certificates or degrees, providing lateral mobility both in skills and financial rewards. The need to meet the demands of employers has inspired states like Tennessee and South Carolina to spend millions of dollars on improving their career technical programs and in the case of South Carolina, provide tuition-free enrollment into high-demand occupations. Employers need well-prepared workers and rely on an organization such as ABET to ensure that programs prepare graduates to be productive employees is beneficial for all involved [11][12]. 

3. ABET Accreditation Criteria

There are two sets of criteria that ABET-accredited programs must satisfy: General Criteria and Program Criteria. 

General Criteria apply to all programs accredited by the applicable ABET commission. Each of these eight General Criteria must be satisfied: 

  1. Students (*) – This criterion deals with student enrollment, performance, progress, advisement, and graduation. 
  2. Program Educational Objectives (*) – Program educational objectives are broad statements that describe what graduates are expected to attain within a few years after graduation. Program educational objectives are based on the needs of the program’s constituencies. 
  3. Student Outcomes (**) – Student outcomes describe what students are expected to know and be able to do by the time of graduation. These relate to the knowledge, skills, and behaviors students acquire as they progress through the program. 
  4. Continuous Improvement (*) – This criterion deals with the attainment of student outcomes using documented continuous improvement processes. 
  5. Curriculum (**) – This criterion deals with curricular topics that combine technical, professional, and general education components to support student outcomes but do not prescribe courses. 
  6. Faculty (**) – This criterion deals with the competence of the faculty, the sufficiency of their student interaction and advisement, and their ability to improve the program. 
  7. Facilities (*) – This criterion deals with classrooms, libraries, offices, laboratories, tools, computing resources, and associated equipment to support the attainment of the student outcomes and to provide an atmosphere conducive to learning. 
  8. Institutional Support (*) – This criterion deals with institutional services, financial support, and staff needed to meet program needs. 

* = Harmonized General Criteria – These criteria are identical in language across all four of ABET’s accreditation commissions.

** = Commission Specific (Non-Harmonized) General Criteria – These criteria are unique to each ABET Commission and contain language differentiating associates from baccalaureate programs from master’s programs.

Program Criteria address discipline-specific requirements within areas of specialization. These criteria have been developed by ABET member societies and the commissions. Each commission has a different set of Program Criteria contained in each commission’s criteria document posted on the ABET website [13]. Therefore, program Criteria are not written for every discipline.

In addition to the General Criteria and Program Criteria, all programs must adhere to the requirements in the ABET Accreditation Policy and Procedure Manual (APPM) [14].

For Two-Year (Associate) programs, the Program Criteria may add additional elements to the Curriculum and Faculty requirements specified in the General Criteria.

In ETAC, which accredits most of the associate programs under ABET, there are currently 24 Program Criteria [15].

Those Program Criteria are used in conjunction with the ETAC General Criteria to accredit 231 programs worldwide. Programs that do not align with any of the current Program Criteria may use the General Criteria only [16].

Table 1 lists the Lead and Cooperating Societ(ies) for each ETAC Program Criteria.

Table 1: Lead and Cooperating Societ(ies) for each of the ETAC Program Criteria

ETAC Program Criteria Lead Societ(ies) Cooperating Societ(ies) 
Aeronautical Engineering Technology AIAA  
Air Conditioning, Refrigerating, Heating, and Ventilating Engineering Technology ASHRAE  
Architectural Engineering Technology ASCE  
Automotive Engineering Technology SAE  
Chemical/Refinery Process Engineering Technology AIChE  
Civil Engineering Technology ASCE  
Computer Engineering Technology IEEE IISE 
Construction Engineering Technology ASCE  
Construction Management Technology (NEW, under public review) CMAA  
Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technology IEEE  
Electromechanical Engineering Technology IEEE ASME, ISA 
Engineering Graphics/Design/Drafting Engineering Technology ASME SME 
Engineering Technology ASEE  
Environmental Engineering Technology AAEES AIChE, ASCE, ASHRAE, ASME, SAE, SMME 
Fire Protection Engineering Technology SFPE  
Healthcare Engineering Technology AAMI ACS, AIChE, ASABE, ASME, IEEE 
Industrial Engineering Technology IISE  
Information, Information Security, Cybersecurity, Information Assurance Engineering Technology IEEE CSAB 
Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineering Technology ISA  
Manufacturing Engineering Technology SME  
Marine Engineering Technology SNAME  
Mechanical Engineering Technology ASME  
Mechatronics Engineering Technology (NEW, under public review) ASME, IEEE, SME  
Nuclear Engineering Technology ANS  
Surveying and Geomatics Engineering Technology NSPS ASCE 
Telecommunications Engineering Technology IEEE  
Figure 2 shows how the 231 ETAC accredited associate degree programs align with the current 24 ETAC Program Criteria. The Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technology (EET) and Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) Program Criteria account for more than half the ETAC accredited programs. Six other Program Criteria (Civil ET, Computer E.T., Construction E.T., Architectural E.T., Surveying and Geomatics E.T., and Engineering Technology) account for another 30% of programs. The other 15 Program Criteria account for 14% of the programs. The remaining 5% of the programs use General Criteria only. 
Fig. 2. ETAC accredited associate degree programs aligned with the Program Criteria

The key differences between the criteria for associate and baccalaureate programs in ETAC can be summarized in Table 2. 

Table 2: Criteria Differences between Associate and Baccalaureate Programs

ETAC Criteria Associate Baccalaureate 
3. Student Outcomes Design solutions for, communicate and solve well-defined engineering problems Analyze and interpret test results   Serve as a member of a technical team. Design systems for, communicate and solve broadly-defined engineering problems Analyze and interpret test results to improve processes Lead a technical team 
5. Curriculum Math: Application of algebra and trigonometry   Math: Application of integral and differential calculus or other mathematics above the level of algebra and trigonometry Integration of Content: Provide a capstone or other integrating experience that develops student competencies in applying technical and nontechnical skills to solve problems. 
Program Criteria Curriculum elements added for associate programs. Curriculum elements added for baccalaureate programs. 

The processes for adding new or modifying existing General Criteria or Program Criteria are specified in the APPM. Suggestions for new or modified Program Criteria are submitted to a Lead, Co-Lead, or Cooperating Society assigned to that programmatic area. Changes are further divided into substantive changes (a new criterion or a revision to an existing criterion that modifies its prior meaning) and non-substantive changes (which do not modify the prior meaning of a criterion and is normally intended to improve clarity, structural consistency, syntax, or typography). 

The process for determining the Lead, Co-Lead, and Cooperating Societ(ies) for new Program Criteria starts with the Criteria Committee. Societies submit position papers documenting their interest. Recommendations on lead, co-lead and cooperating societ(ies) by the Criteria Committee are based on analysis of the position papers, including alignment with the societies’ curricular area strengths, membership involvement and expertise, publications, and other justification for the level of participation the societies have requested. The Criteria Committee also surveys existing programs to assess whether existing criteria can be used or modified instead. For designation as lead or co-lead, a technical curricular contribution from the society should be at least 1/3 of curricular content. Journals and conferences sponsored by the community, directly related to the programmatic area, and member data for those working in the programmatic area are also considered. Multi-disciplinary programs such as Mechatronics Engineering Technology may require more than one lead society. ETAC prefers no more than two societies designated as lead or co-lead, so the Program Criteria generation and update process is not unwieldy.  

For new Program Criteria, the rationale should include letters of endorsement from a sampling of potential constituent programs. Once the proposed new or changed criteria are reviewed and approved by the appropriate bodies (the lead, co-lead, and cooperating societies, the sponsoring ABET Commission, and its Area Delegation), the proposed criteria are published on the ABET website for a period of public review and comment. During the review and comment period, proposed criteria will be published in the “Proposed Criteria” section of the appropriate criteria document. In addition, public comments are passed to the Criteria Committee of the sponsoring ABET Commission and reviewed with the Lead, Co-Lead, and Cooperating Societies. Finally, changes are incorporated into the proposed criteria and re-published on the ABET website for incorporation in the next available accreditation cycle [17]. 

In ETAC, there are currently two new and one substantive change to Program Criteria posted on the ABET website for public comment: 

  • Construction Management Technology (Lead Society: CMAA) 
  • Industrial Engineering Technology (Lead Society: IIISE) 
  • Mechatronics Engineering Technology (Lead Societies: ASME, IEEE, SME) 

4. ABET Accreditation Cycle

The ABET accreditation process starts in January, with the program submitting a “Request for Evaluation” (RFE). In addition, already accredited programs must submit a copy of a transcript to ABET with the program’s name. New programs seeking accreditation must have had at least one graduate in the previous academic year. Figure 3 shows the timeline of a typical General Review Evaluation (GRE).

Fig. 3. Timeline of a typical ABET Accreditation Cycle’s Timeline

The review process for an associate degree is the same as bachelors’ degree programs. Still, there are differences in the criteria, such as student outcomes, the required curriculum, and the Program Criteria, if applicable, as it was highlighted in Table 2. There are some programs that do not have specific Program Criteria; in those cases, they are evaluated under the General Criteria.

As stated earlier, having an accredited program can be beneficial for associate degree programs that are working closely with the industry to meet their needs for middle-skill or technician level positions. The ABET criteria are flexible enough to meet the local industry requirements, even in the case of Program Criteria, but the employer must be part of the process. When it comes to participation on the industrial advisory council (IAC) for a program, those employers that hire graduates need to have a seat on the IAC and be active participants. During an accreditation review, program evaluators look for evidence demonstrating active participation of the IAC in the program’s curriculum and educational objectives.

ABET accreditation is based on a six-year cycle. Programs are re-accredited once every six years with the same accreditation filing steps presented in Figure 3. If the programs face difficulties satisfying some criteria, shortcomings at different quality levels may be cited. Through an interim review, programs usually fix these shortcomings within two years (either a report or visit).

Associate degree graduates can go directly into the workplace, but those seeking to continue their education can do so by attending a four-year institution with programs that provide the next two years. In many states, only graduates from four-year ABET-accredited programs can sit for the Fundamental of Engineering (F.E.) Exam, the first step in the process of being licensed as a Professional Engineer (PE).

5. Current Statistics of the Accredited Associate Degree Programs in ABET

As indicated before, ABET is the recognized U.S. accreditation organization and also provides leadership internationally through memoranda of understanding and mutual recognition agreements, such as the Washington Accord and Dublin Accord. ABET evaluates programs offered in a 100-percent online format too [18][19].

The accreditation of these programs occurs all over the world, not only in the U.S. As of January 30, 2022, 4,361 programs are accredited, distributed over 850 institutions in 41 countries. This represents an increase of 54 programs and four institutions over 2020. Based on this data, 3382 programs and 653 institutions are located in the U.S. while 979 programs and 197 institutions are outside of the U.S. [20].

As of January 30, 2022, there are 240 accredited associate programs in 92 institutions in 7 countries. Figure 4 presents the geographic distribution of these seven countries. Two of these programs are accredited by the CAC. Seven of them are accredited by the ANSAC. The remaining 231 of them are accredited by the ETAC. The states with the ABET accredited associate degree programs are shown in Figure 5.

Fig. 4. Countries with ABET accredited associate degree programs
Fig. 5. States with ABET accredited associate degree programs in the U.S.

The table in Appendix A presents the latest statistics of ABET accredited associate degree programs. The data have been gathered using the ABET Accredited Programs [21].

6. Highlights from The ABET Accredited Programs

In this section of the article, readers will find some key points from several different community colleges, not only from the U.S. but also from some other nations, presenting their experiences with ABET.

Houston Community College, Texas, has kept its AAS (Associate in Applied Science) degree in Electronics Engineering Technology accredited by the ETAC of ABET since 1983 [22]. The program faculty, staff, and college administrators have been committed to delivering an educational program that meets the highest criteria required by industry and the ETAC of ABET. The program’s director indicates that “Students who enroll in our program can rest assured that they are receiving the highest standard of education provided by a program that has been thoroughly vetted for its quality and validity.” [23].

At Hudson Valley Community College, New York, degree programs in Civil Engineering Technology, Electrical Engineering Technology, and Mechanical Engineering Technology have been accredited by ETAC of ABET since 1970 [24]. The school dean indicates that “The reaccreditation of these three programs speaks to the high academic standards we set for our graduates. We have consistently maintained programs that fully prepare graduates for their chosen careers.” [25].

At Southwest Tennessee Community College, located in Memphis, Tennessee, Engineering Technologies Division offers four AAS degrees in Architectural Engineering Technology, Computer Engineering Technology, Electronic Engineering Technology, and Mechanical Engineering Technology accredited by the ETAC of ABET. Computer Engineering Technology Program has been accredited since 1978, although the other three have been accredited since 1971 [26]. All programs are regularly reviewed to ensure that the region’s employment needs are being met. The program administrators anticipate that new and modified programs and certificates will be added to their college as the community’s needs are assessed [27].

In Saudi Arabia, Jubail Industrial College has six A.S. programs that have held ABET accreditation since 2012 (Chemical Engineering Technology, Electrical Power Engineering Technology, Instrumentation and Control Engineering Technology, Manufacturing Engineering Technology, Mechanical Maintenance Engineering Technology, and Polymer Engineering Technology), plus Non-Destructive Testing and Evaluation Engineering Technology since 2015. Jubail Industrial College is the largest and most sophisticated technical institute governed by the Board of Directors of the Royal Commission in Saudi Arabia [28][29]. Jubail Industrial College is an outstanding example of how relevant modern education, in support of technology, transforms a rural society into a modern, vibrant one. It is a successful example of how, within a couple of decades, planned industrial and educational developments can work hand in hand [30].

Another college named Yanbu Industrial College in Saudi Arabia has six accredited AS degree programs accredited by the ETAC of ABET for almost 15 years [31][32]. The ABET accredited workforce education at Yanbu Industrial College helped the city grow the initial investments from industrial developers in the city to a current all-time high of more than 14 billion dollars. In almost twenty years, the College has become one of the major sources of manpower for the local economy, propelling Yanbu’s industrial sector to becoming a major contributor to the nation’s development [33].

7. Conclusion

The accreditation process can measure the quality of an associate degree program. ABET is one of the major accreditation bodies that accredit associate degree programs in the STEM field. There are few differences in the ABET accreditation process between a bachelor’s degree and an associate degree program except for criteria, where there are different criteria for each degree program. As outlined in the criteria section and the accreditation cycle section, preparing for an accreditation visit can be a lengthy and resource-intensive process. However, there are significant advantages to students attending ABET-accredited programs, and there are advantages for programs seeking accreditation. This unique paper presents the accreditation process for the two-year programs without detailing all its benefits. The authors plan future studies to investigate the impact of accreditation.

Acknowledgments

Graphical support provided by Ms. Amy Hill is greatly appreciated. The review and revision provided by Dr. Tom Hall are also acknowledged.

Disclosures

The authors declare no conflicts of interest. The opinions expressed are the authors’ own and do not represent ABET’s position on any issue.

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[26] “Name Search | Southwest Tennessee Community College.” https://amspub.abet.org/aps/name-search?searchType=institution&keyword=southwest Tennessee (accessed Feb. 16, 2022). 

[27] “Engineering Technologies.” http://beta.southwest.tn.edu/engineering/ (accessed Feb. 16, 2022). 

[28] “Accredited Provider Overview – IACET.” https://www.iacet.org/resources/accredited-providers-list/accredited-provider-overview/?providerID=121017 (accessed Feb. 16, 2022). 

[29] M. Almutairi, “A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF ABET ACCREDITED ASSOCIATE DEGREE PROGRAMS, EVIDENCE FROM SAUDI ARABIA,” Bus. Educ. Accredit., vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 1944–5903, 2017, Accessed: Feb. 16, 2022. [Online]. Available: www.theIBFR.COM. 

[30] “Accreditation Board of Engineering Technology (ABET) Re-accredited all Engineering Programs for Jubail Industrial College.” http://www.jic.edu.sa/en/mediacenter/news/Pages/Accreditation-Board-of-Engineering-Technology-(ABET)-Reaccredited-all-Engineering-Programs-for-Jubail-Industrial-College.aspx (accessed Feb. 16, 2022). 

[31] “Category Search | Accredited Programs in Saudi Arabia.” https://amspub.abet.org/aps/category-search?commissions=4&degreeLevels=A&countries=SA (accessed Feb. 16, 2022). 

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 Appendix A: ABET accredited associate degree programs 

School Name  City  State  Country  # of Programs  Accrediting Commission 
Abu Dhabi Polytechnic  Abu Dhabi    United Arab Emirates  1  ETAC 
Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology  Flushing  New York   United States  2 
Alfred State College  Alfred  New York   United States  5 
American College of the Middle East  Kuwait    Kuwait  4 
University of Arkansas at Little Rock  Little Rock  Arkansas   United States  2 
Augusta Technical College  Augusta  Georgia   United States  2 
Austin Peay State University  Clarksville  Tennessee   United States  3 
Bismarck State College  Bismarck  North Dakota   United States  1 
Bluefield State College  Bluefield  West Virginia   United States  3 
BridgeValley Community and Technical College  South Charleston  West Virginia   United States  3 
SUNY Broome Community College  Binghamton  New York   United States  3 
Rowan College at Burlington County  Mount Laurel  New Jersey   United States  2 
Cao Thang Technical College  Ho Chi Minh    Vietnam  2 
Central Ohio Technical College  Newark  Ohio   United States  4 
Central Piedmont Community College  Charlotte  North Carolina   United States  5 
Chattanooga State Community College  Chattanooga  Tennessee   United States  3 
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College  Cincinnati  Ohio   United States  1 
College of Technological Studies  Shuwaikh    Kuwait  11 
Columbus State Community College  Columbus  Ohio   United States  1 
Cuyahoga Community College, Metropolitan  Cleveland  Ohio   United States  4 
Georgia Piedmont Technical College  Clarkston  Georgia   United States  2 
Delaware Technical & Community College, Stanton  Newark  Delaware   United States  1 
Delgado Community College  New Orleans  Louisiana   United States  1 
Denmark Technical College  Denmark  South Carolina   United States  1 
Erie Community College, North Campus  Williamsville  New York   United States  4 
Essex County College  Newark  New Jersey   United States  3 
Universidad del Este  Carolina  Puerto Rico   United States  3 
Fairmont State University  Fairmont  West Virginia   United States  3 
Ferris State University  Big Rapids  Michigan   United States  2 
Gaston College  Dallas  North Carolina   United States  3 
Greenville Technical College  Greenville  South Carolina   United States  5 
The Higher Institute of Telecommunication & Navigation      Kuwait  4 
Houston Community College  Houston  Texas   United States  1 
Hudson Valley Community College  Troy  New York   United States  3 
Idaho State University  Pocatello  Idaho   United States  6 
ISIL  Lima    Peru  1 
Ivy Tech Community College, Bloomington  Bloomington  Indiana   United States  1 
Ivy Tech Community College, Columbus  Columbus  Indiana   United States  2 
Ivy Tech Community College, Fort Wayne  Fort Wayne  Indiana   United States  3 
Ivy Tech Community College, Indianapolis  Indianapolis  Indiana   United States  2 
James A. Rhodes State College  Lima  Ohio   United States  2 
Jubail Industrial College  Jubail Industrial City    Saudi Arabia  7 
Kent State University, Tuscarawas Campus  New Philadelphia  Ohio   United States  2 
Lorain County Community College  Elyria  Ohio   United States  2 
Southwest Tennessee Community College  Memphis  Tennessee   United States  4 
Miami University  Oxford  Ohio   United States  2 
Middlesex County College  Edison  New Jersey   United States  3 
Midlands Technical College  Columbia  South Carolina   United States  3 
Mohawk Valley Community College  Utica  New York   United States  3 
Monroe Community College  Rochester  New York   United States  1 
County College of Morris  Randolph  New Jersey   United States  2 
Morrison Institute of Technology  Morrison  Illinois   United States  1 
Zane State College  Zanesville  Ohio   United States  1 
Nashua Community College  Nashua  New Hampshire   United States  1 
Nassau Community College  Garden City  New York   United States  2 
Naugatuck Valley Community College  Waterbury  Connecticut   United States  2 
NHTI-Concord’s Community College  Concord  New Hampshire   United States  4 
State University of New York College of Technology at Canton  Canton  New York   United States  4 
State University of New York at Morrisville  Morrisville  New York   United States  1 
New York City College of Technology  Brooklyn  New York   United States  5 
State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry  Syracuse  New York   United States  1 
City University of New York, Bronx Community College  Bronx  New York   United States  1 
City University of New York, Queensborough Community College  Bayside  New York   United States  3 
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College  Green Bay  Wisconsin   United States  1 
Calhoun Technical College  Orangeburg  South Carolina   United States  1 
Paul Smith’s College  Paul Smiths  New York   United States  1 
Pennsylvania College of Technology  Williamsport  Pennsylvania   United States  3 
Pennsylvania State University  University Park  Pennsylvania   United States  6 
Piedmont Technical College  Greenwood  South Carolina   United States  2 
University of Puerto Rico at Bayamon  Bayamon  Puerto Rico   United States  4 
University of Puerto Rico at Humacao  Humacao  Puerto Rico   United States  1 
University of Puerto Rico at Ponce  Ponce  Puerto Rico   United States  3 
Purdue University Fort Wayne  Fort Wayne  Indiana   United States  3 
Savannah Technical College  Savannah  Georgia   United States  1 
Sinclair College  Dayton  Ohio   United States  7 
College of Southern Nevada  North Las Vegas  Nevada   United States  2 
Spartanburg Community College  Spartanburg  South Carolina   United States  1 
St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley  St. Louis  Missouri   United States  1 
Stark State College of Technology  North Canton  Ohio   United States  3 
Vermont Technical College  Randolph Center  Vermont   United States  5 
Waukesha County Technical College  Pewaukee  Wisconsin   United States  2 
The University of West Alabama  Livingston  Alabama   United States  1 
Yanbu Industrial College  Yanbu Al-Sinaiyah    Saudi Arabia  6 
York Technical College  Rock Hill  South Carolina   United States  4 
Youngstown State University  Youngstown  Ohio   United States  3 
The University of Akron  Akron  Ohio   United States  2  ANSAC 
Chattanooga State Community College  Chattanooga  Tennessee   United States  1 
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Worldwide   Daytona Beach  Florida   United States  1 
Ngee Ann Polytechnic      Singapore  1 
Temasek Polytechnic      Singapore  1 
Trinidad State Junior College  Trinidad  Colorado   United States  1 
Anne Arundel Community College  Arnold  Maryland   United States  1  CAC 
Lord Fairfax Community College  Middletown  Virginia   United States  1