Accreditation in education began over a century ago. The movement started as a public reaction to the extreme differences between educational institutions that initially appeared to be similar. Accrediting bodies were voluntarily organized by educators to develop and implement common standards and procedures to measure educational quality. From its inception, accreditation has been a nongovernmental, completely voluntary, peer group method of identifying educational institutions or programs that meet published standards of quality. A variety of regional, national, and professional accrediting organizations came into being in the early 1900s in response to the public's demand for reliable indicators of institutional quality.
The federally recognized accrediting organization now known as Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) has its roots in a non-profit organization of distance learning institutions founded in 1926 under the name "National Home Study Council" (NHSC) to promote education quality and ethical business practices for correspondence education programs. In 1955, NHSC established a standing committee, known as the Accrediting Commission, consisting of representatives from its member organizations, to create and implement written accreditation standards and procedures to examine and approve distance learning institutions. In 1959, DEAC received its first grant of federal recognition and was listed by the U.S. Commissioner (now Secretary) of Education as a recognized accreditor. In 1994, the National Home Study Council changed its name to the Distance Education and Training Council reflecting the expansion and increasing diversity of distance learning programs. In 2015, the organization's name was rebranded as the Distance Education Accrediting Commission to reflect its primary function as an independent accrediting organization.