Each state has a board of real estate professionals composed of brokers, agents, and other persons interested in real estate. As part of their responsibility for safeguarding the well-being of their constituents, the various state boards or real estate professionals evaluate and approve real estate education programs within their state through real estate agent accreditation. Part of the approval process includes specific regulations governing the length (in hours) of real estate education programs. Graduation from a state-approved real estate school is one of the prerequisites for taking the real estate licensing examination.
In addition to the mandatory approval by the state board of real estate board of real estate, many schools voluntarily seek accreditation from the Accrediting Commission of the United States Department of Education. The keywords “approval” and “accreditation” are essential to understanding the difference between the purpose of the state board of real estate and the purpose of the Accrediting Commission. Approval by the state board of real estate is mandatory; accreditation is voluntary.
Accreditation of a program by the Accrediting Commission of the United States Department of Education is often an indication that a particular real estate education program exceeds minimum requirements for conducting a program. This doesn’t imply, however, that programs not accredited by the Department of Education don’t exceed minimum standards established by a state board of real estate. Because the accreditation process is voluntary, some schools, for their own unique reasons, don’t seek accreditation.
The nonaccredited program may exceed minimum standards by far, and it may offer an outstanding education program. One must be careful when using the term “approval”, which is required, and the term “accreditation”, which is voluntary, when discussing education programs. Your school may be scheduled for a program preview by the state board during the time you’re enrolled. Having an approval and accreditation visit is an important process and one in which your participation will be expected.