Higher education in the US is unique because of its reliance on accreditation to ensure quality and continuous improvement. Accrediting agencies develop criteria and conduct evaluations to assess whether or not those criteria are met. Institutions and/or programs that request an agency's evaluation and that meet an agency's criteria are then "accredited" by that agency.
Accreditation for higher education began in the late 19th century initially as a voluntary effort but with increasing governmental oversight and regulation. Postsecondary accreditation of schools in the US is conducted regionally. In Maryland, this is done by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Johns Hopkins University, including all its divisions, has been accredited by MSCHE for over 80 years and was reaccredited in October 2014.
Graduate education in public health began in the early 1900s and formal accreditation was initiated in the mid-1940s when 10 schools of public health (including the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health) were recognized by the American Public Health Association (APHA), the nation’s largest individual public health membership organization. From 1945 to 1973, APHA carried out accreditation of graduate professional education in public health. In 1974, responsibility for the evaluation of schools of public health was transferred to the independent Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). The Bloomberg School of Public Health has been continuously accredited by CEPH, with the next evaluation scheduled to occur in 2015.
Preparing for an accreditation requires the School to undertake a self-study. These documents provide an excellent overview of the School's goals, organization, strengths, and areas for improvement.