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The Architecture of Accreditation

24 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2011 Last revised: 27 Jul 2011

Jay Conison

Charlotte School of Law

Date Written: February 22, 2011


Accreditation systems can be analyzed in terms of choices in three dimensions. One dimension is purpose of accreditation, where purpose can relate to program quality or quality of outcomes. The second dimension is types of accreditation norms used to achieve the purposes of the system. There are five principal types of norms: process quality norms; output norms; power allocation norms; self-determination norms; and consumer protection norms. The third dimension is degree of regulation. A sound accreditation system will make choices along each of these three dimensions. Understanding possible accreditation structures helps in the design and revision of accreditation systems and can aid in the effective analysis of them.

Keywords: accreditation, legal education, law schools, ABA standards, regulation, norms

Suggested Citation

Conison, Jay, The Architecture of Accreditation (February 22, 2011). Iowa Law Review, Vol. 96, p. 1515, 2011; Valparaiso University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-02. Available at SSRN:

Jay Conison (Contact Author)

Charlotte School of Law ( email )

201 South College Street
Suite 400
Charlotte, NC 28244
United States

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