The Council on Occupational Education came into existence initially in 1971 as the Commission on Occupational Education Institutions (COEI) of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), a regional accrediting association that serves institutions in an 11-state region. Operating as a unit of SACS, COEI provided accreditation services to postsecondary occupational education institutions located, with a few special exceptions, in the SACS region. Throughout its history, the Council and its predecessor agency have been recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a reliable authority on the quality of education offered by the institutions it has accredited. Its current scope of recognition is as a national institutional accrediting agency for the accreditation of non-degree-granting and applied associate degree-granting postsecondary occupational education institutions.

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