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An Overview Of Abet Engineering Criteria 2000

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.76.1 - 2.76.3



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Mogens Henriksen

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2225

An Overview of ABET Engineering Criteria 2000 Mogens Henriksen, Ph.D., P.E. Mercer University School of Engineering


The physical length of the document specifying the accreditation criteria for programs in engineering has increased yearly in recent memory. The general criteria now occupy over twelve full-sized double column pages in the ABET publication “Criteria for Accrediting Programs in Engineering in the United States."[ l] The society generated program criteria require 15 additional pages. The detailed specifications have also grown increasingly complex. Recently, many engineering educators have seen this “criterion swell” as symptomatic of rules that have become too cumbersome, too prescriptive, and a recipe for the evolution of “cookie cutter” programs. In fact, some have charged that the current ABET general criteria constitute a negative incentive for sound educational experimentation and the evolution of better teaching methods. Although Criterion II.A.7 encourages well-planned experimentation, the engineering community has been reluctant to pursue such experimentation. Undoubtedly, the hesitation to pursue such experimentation may, in part, be traced to a fear of restrictive interpretations of the “old criteria.”

In the early 90’s, many outstanding institutions became openly frustrated with the prescriptive nature of the criteria. The relentless “bean-counting” often carried out on ABET visits increasingly became a focus for institutional irritation. With the advent of the TQM movement and with its emphasis on quality, a consensus that accrediting agencies should focus on outcomes instead of process began to form. Many regional accrediting agencies had already steered that course. There was a desire to achieve rigor without rigidity in the accreditation process; there was also a strong push to allow and encourage diversity in the missions and objectives of individual programs. The latter was underscored by the vociferous dissatisfaction of several research institutions, threatening to create their own accrediting body. This would have stratified engineering education by creating different classes of accreditation. Considering that prospect as well as a general recognition that it was time for a change, the EAC of ABET began to develop a new set of accreditation criteria - criteria which have since become known as Criteria 2000 (or C2000).


The new criteria, C2000, are less prescriptive than were the “old criteria.” The physical length of the general criteria is only slightly over two pages - a reduction in length of 11 pages. It is not yet clear how detailed the program criteria, imposed by the technical societies, will be; however,

Henriksen, M. (1997, June), An Overview Of Abet Engineering Criteria 2000 Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6724

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