Glossary

Dictionary pages

Accord
An agreement among the bodies responsible for accrediting specific degree programs in each of the signatory countries. Accords recognize the substantial equivalency of programs accredited by each of these 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-level practice. Accords are intended to improve technical education worldwide and foster the mobility of students and graduates.
Accreditation
An assurance that a program or institution meets established quality standards. In the United States, it is a non-governmental, voluntary peer-review process.
Accreditation Council (AC)
Council composed of the chair, chair-elect, and past chair of each of the ABET accreditation commissions, as well as a chair who leads the council itself. The Accreditation Council formulates and recommends to the ABET Board of Directors policies and procedures regarding ABET accreditation processes, with particular emphasis on process improvement and process uniformity across the commissions.
Accreditation Policy and Procedure Manual (APPM)
Document that spells out the policies and procedures that govern the ABET accreditation process, almost always used with the accreditation criteria.
Applied Science Accreditation Commission (ASAC)
The commission that accredits programs leading to professional practice utilizing science, mathematics, and engineering concepts as a foundation for discipline-specific practice, including the recognition, prevention, and solution of problems critical to society. Examples of these fields include geomatics, health physics, industrial hygiene, mapping and surveying, and safety. ASAC accredits a program at the associate's, bachelor's, and master's degree levels.
Assessment
One or more processes that identify, collect, and prepare data to evaluate the attainment of program educational objectives and student outcomes. Effective assessment uses relevant direct, indirect, quantitative, and qualitative measures as appropriate to the objective or outcome being measured. Appropriate sampling methods may be used as part of an assessment process.
Associate's
An undergraduate degree that is conferred upon completion of a two-year program of study; may be earned at community colleges, technical schools, or bachelor's degree-granting colleges and universities.
Associate Member Society
An organization that participates in and contributes to the ABET community but is not a full member of ABET. Associate member societies do not nominate members for the ABET accreditation commissions or have voting rights on the ABET Board of Directors.
Bachelor's
An undergraduate degree that is conferred upon completion of a three- to five-year program of study; may be earned at technical schools, colleges, or universities.
Capstone
A culminating course that allows students who are nearing graduation to "put together" the knowledge and skills they have acquired in their program and apply it to a major project or assignment.
Commission
Entities within ABET that conduct the accreditation of educational programs; established by the Board of Directors.
Commission Executive Committee
Committee consisting of the commission officers, members-at-large, public commissioner, and the Board Liaison.
Competency
Knowledge, skill, or ability.
Comprehensive Review
A review team examines all aspects of a program to judge compliance with criteria and policies and to help the program in recognizing its strong and weak points. The team interviews faculty, students, administrators, and staff; examines materials and facilities; presents orally its factual findings to the institution leadership; and provides to the dean a copy of the Program Audit Form (PAF) for each program reviewed.
Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC)
The commission that accredits programs leading to professional practice across the broad spectrum of computing, computational, information, and informatics disciplines. CAC accredits a program at the bachelor's degree level only.
Concern
Statement that a program currently satisfies a criterion, policy, or procedure, but the potential exists for the situation to change such that the criterion, policy, or procedure may not be satisfied.
Continuous quality improvement (CQI)
An approach based on evaluating a product or a process and on understanding the needs and expectations of those who use or benefit from a product or a process.
Criteria
Standard on which a judgment or decision is based.
Dean
Senior leader of an academic unit or college.
Deficiency
Statement that a criterion, policy, or procedure is not satisfied. The program is not in compliance with the criterion, policy, or procedure.
Degree Level
Tier of study, also called program level.
  • Associate's – An undergraduate degree that is conferred upon completion of a two-year program of study; may be earned at community colleges, technical schools, or bachelor's degree-granting colleges and universities.
  • Bachelor's – An undergraduate degree that is conferred upon completion of a three- to five-year program of study; may be earned at technical schools, colleges, or universities.
  • Master's – A post-graduate degree that is conferred upon completion of one to three years of course that demonstrates a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice; may be earned at colleges or universities.
Display Materials
Textbooks, course syllabi; sample student work including assignment and exams, ranging in quality from excellent through poor, and assessment materials
Draft Statement
Compilation of program exit statements and institutional section of strengths, shortcomings, and/or observations; written by the team chair after the visit and includes the institution's seven-day response; sent to the institution for due process response.
Due Process Response
The institution's changes to the draft statement. After ABET provides the institution with a draft statement, it has 30 days to correct errors of fact in the statement and report progress in addressing shortcomings.
Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC)
The commission that accredits programs leading to the professional practice of engineering. EAC accredits programs at the bachelor's and master's degree levels.
Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission (ETAC)
The commission that accredits programs that prepare bachelor's degree graduates for careers as engineering technologists and associate's degree graduates for careers as engineering technicians. ETAC accredits programs at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels. In 2012, this commission's name was formally changed from the Technology Accreditation Commission (TAC) to the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission (ETAC).
Editor
Member of the commission's executive committee who reviews and edits Draft and Final Statements to the institution.
Evaluation
One or more processes for interpreting the data and evidence accumulated through assessment practices. Evaluation determines the extent to which program educational objectives and student outcomes are being attained. Evaluation results in decisions and actions regarding program improvement.
Exit Meeting
The conclusion of a review visit, when the review team presents orally its factual findings about the programs it reviewed to institution's leadership and answers clarifying questions.
Exit Statement
Statement of program strengths, shortcomings, and/or observations that the program evaluator reads during the exit meeting.
Final Statement
Compilation of program statements and institutional section of strengths, shortcomings, and/or observations that incorporates institutional due process responses and is the result of a second editing cycle; sent to the institution with the final accreditation action voted upon by the commission.
Institution
Higher learning organization that delivers one or more educational programs leading to degrees.
Institutional Representative
A faculty member, dean, department head, or other administrator who represents an educational program.
Interim Report (IR)
This action indicates that the program has one or more weaknesses. The weaknesses are such that a progress report to evaluate the remedial actions that the institution has taken will be required. This action has a typical duration of two years.
Interim Visit (IV)
This action indicates that the program has one or more weaknesses. The weaknesses are such that an on-site review to evaluate the remedial actions that the institution has taken will be required. This action has a typical duration of two years.
International Observer
A representative from a non-U.S. higher education organization or educational program who attends an ABET meeting or event to learn more about ABET activities rather than to actively participate in the meeting or event.
Master's
A post-graduate degree that is conferred upon completion of one to three years of course that demonstrates a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice; may be earned at colleges or universities.
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
An agreement between ABET and a peer accrediting agency. An MOU provides a structure that guides collaboration of organizations with ABET to facilitate implementation of quality assurance organizations in other countries during their developmental period. Typical activities conducted under these agreements are sharing of best practices, assisting organizations in their development of accreditation processes, and providing training workshops for staff and volunteers. MOUs do not extend to the recognition of programs or graduates.
Member Society
One of more than two-dozen professional and technical societies that comprise the federation known as ABET.
Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA)
An agreement among organizations that accredit academic degree programs. These are nongovernmental agreements that recognize the substantial equivalency of the organizations' accreditation processes and the graduates' preparedness to begin professional practice at the entry level. The "mutual recognition" of accrediting systems is intended to improve technical education worldwide and foster the mobility of students and graduates.
Next General Review (NGR)
This action indicates that the program has no deficiencies or weaknesses. This action is taken only after a comprehensive general review and has a typical duration of six years.
Not to Accredit (NA)
This action indicates that the program has deficiencies such that the program is not in compliance with the applicable criteria. This action is usually taken only after a SCR or SCV review or the review of a new, unaccredited program. Accreditation is not extended as a result of this action. This is the only action can be appealed.
Observation
A comment or suggestion that does not relate directly to the accreditation action but is offered to assist the institution in its continuing efforts to improve its programs.
Online Program
An integrated, organized experience in which both students and instructors communicate via their computers for all coursework, culminating in the awarding of a degree.
Program
An integrated, organized experience that culminates in the awarding of a degree.
Program Area
A curricular concentration or major.
Program Educational Objectives
Broad statements that describe what graduates are expected to attain within a few years of graduation. Program educational objectives are based on the needs of the program's constituencies.
Program Evaluator (PEV)
A volunteer selected by his or her member society to represent ABET on visit team. They are professionals from academe, industry, government, and private practice who care about sustaining their respective professions through quality education.
Program Level
Tier of study, also called degree level.
  • Associate's – An undergraduate degree that is conferred upon completion of a two-year program of study; may be earned at community colleges, technical schools, or bachelor's degree-granting colleges and universities.
  • Bachelor's – An undergraduate degree that is conferred upon completion of a three- to five-year program of study; may be earned at technical schools, colleges, or universities.
  • Master's – A post-graduate degree that is conferred upon completion of one to three years of course that demonstrates a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice; may be earned at colleges or universities.
Provost
Senior academic officer of an institution.
Report Extended (RE)
This action indicates that the institution has taken satisfactory remedial action with respect to weaknesses identified in the prior IR action. This action is taken only after an IR review. This action extends accreditation to the Next General Review and has a typical duration of either two or four years.
Request for Approval (RFA)
An institution outside of the U.S. wishing to have programs considered for accreditation or reaccreditation must submit to ABET a Request for Approval not later than January 31 of the calendar year in which the review is desired. The Request for Approval indicates that a country's accreditation agency approves ABET’s requested visitation and evaluation of the program(s)
Request for Evaluation (RFE)
An institution wishing to have programs considered for accreditation or reaccreditation must submit to ABET a Request for Evaluation (RFE) not later than January 31 of the calendar year in which the review is desired. The RFE must be signed by the institutional Chief Executive Officer (President, Chancellor, Rector, or equivalent) and must be submitted with one official transcript of a recent graduate for each program listed on the RFE. A separate RFE must be submitted for each commission that will review any of the institution's programs that year. Requests for Evaluation are submitted online.
Review Team
A team that reviews against the criteria and accreditation policies and procedures one or more programs at an institution. Composed of a team chair and at least one program evaluator for each program area, with a minimum team size of three.
Show Cause (SC)
This action indicates that a currently accredited program has one or more deficiencies.
Show Cause Extended (SE)
This action indicates that the institution has taken satisfactory remedial action with respect to all deficiencies and weaknesses identified in the prior SC action. This action is taken only after either a SCR or SCV review. This action typically extends accreditation to the Next General Review and has a typical duration of either two or four years.
Show Cause Report (SCR)
This action indicates that a currently accredited program has one or more deficiencies. The deficiencies are such that a progress report to evaluate the remedial actions that the institution has taken will be required. This action has a typical duration of two years. This action cannot follow a previous SC action for the same deficiency.
Show Cause Visit (SCV)
This action indicates that a currently accredited program has one or more deficiencies. The deficiencies are such that an on-site visit to evaluate the remedial actions that the institution has taken will be required. This action has a typical duration of two years. This action cannot follow a previous SC action for the same deficiency.
Self-Study Report
Primary document that a program prepares to demonstrate compliance with ABET criteria. The Self-Study Report is prepared using the Self-Study Questionnaire: Template for the Self Study.
Seven-Day Response
The opportunity for programs that have recently undergone a review visit to examine the review team's findings and to correct errors of fact only; extensive revisions are reserved for the due process response period.
Shortcoming
Area of non-compliance against the criteria; any deficiency, weakness, or concern.
Society Observer
A professional staff member or volunteer from an ABET Member Society who attends an ABET meeting or event to learn more about ABET activities rather than to actively participate in the meeting or event.
Student Outcomes
Statements that describe what students are expected to know and be able to do by the time of graduation. These relate to skills, knowledge, and behaviors that students acquire as they progress through the program.
Student Work Examples
Actual student work, such as completed homework assignments, tests, quizzes, lab reports, or group projects, that have been graded. The work examples should span the grade range from excellent to poor.
Strength
Exceptionally strong, effective practice or condition. A statement that describes what was observed, what makes it stand above the norm, and how it impacts the program positively.
Substantial Equivalency
Accreditation systems have comparable standards, outcomes, and processes, though they may not be identical. Can also mean that a program is comparable in content and educational experience to others, but may differ in format or method of delivery. Substantial equivalency implies reasonable confidence that the program has prepared its graduates to begin professional practice at the entry level.
Team Chair (TC)
A commission member, or occasionally a former commission member, appointed by the commission's executive committee to lead a review team.
Technology Accreditation Commission (TAC)
See Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission (ETAC).
Terminate (T)
This action is generally taken in response to an institution's request that accreditation be extended for a program that is being phased out. The intent is to provide accreditation coverage for students remaining in the program.
Training Mentor
An experienced program evaluator assigned by an ABET member society to a Program Evaluator Candidate (PEVC) to guide that candidate through the training process.
Transcript
Official record of student coursework.
Visit Extended (VE)
This action indicates that the institution has taken satisfactory remedial action with respect to weaknesses identified in the prior IV action. This action is taken only after an IV review. This action extends accreditation to the Next General Review and has a typical duration of either two or four years.
Weakness
Statement that a program lacks strength of compliance with a criterion, policy, or procedure to ensure that the quality of the program will not be compromised. Remedial action is required to strengthen compliance with the criterion, policy, or procedure prior to the next review.

ABET Facts

ABET Member Societies

Seven societies founded ABET's predecessor, the Engineers' Council for Professional Development, in 1932. Today, ABET has 33 member societies representing many disciplines.