The Importance of Licensing and Accreditation

When selecting a private school, you’ll want to consider these key factors.
2024 Psg St Andrews Schools
Students at St. Andrew’s Schools discover their future career interests through a field trip into downtown Honolulu, visiting businesses and government agencies. Photo: Courtesy of St. Andrew’s Schools

They’re more than just stamps of approval—whether or not a school is licensed or accredited can have profound effects on your child’s learning experience. And while they’re both important, they’re not the same. Licensing and accreditation together help ensure parents and students that their school provides an excellent educational program and will be safe, secure and sustainable.

Private School License

What is it?

All private K-12 schools in Hawai‘i are required to be licensed by the Hawai‘i Council of Private Schools or accredited by an HCPS-recognized accrediting body to ensure that they meet basic health, safety, operational and education program criteria to operate as a private school, according to Act 188 (1995), Act 227 (2019) and Act 61 (2022).

Entity responsible

Hawai‘i Council of Private Schools


All Hawai‘i K-12 private schools are legally required to be HCPS-licensed or accredited by an HCPS-recognized accrediting body.

Why is it important?

It is a legal requirement that all K-12 private schools must comply with. An organization that is not licensed or compliant with the above acts is breaking the law and thus not recognized as a school. Students who attend such an organization will be considered truant under the law unless they’re registered with the Hawai‘i Department of Education as home-school students.

How do I check if my child's school is licensed?

Visit to read about licensing and to view the list of licensed/unlicensed/compliant schools, and check our guide of HAIS Independent Schools.


What is it?

Accreditation is a process of review that certifies schools meet the standards of quality defined by the accrediting body. It is a self-reflective process that involves the entire school community in evaluating how well a school is providing a mission-driven education in a financially sustainable manner.

Entity responsible

Hawai‘i Association of Independent Schools or other accrediting bodies. See the abbreviations for these primary accreditations below.


Any school that wishes to strive for excellence and engage in continual growth may pursue accreditation.

Why is it important?

This peer review process allows schools to hold themselves publicly accountable and assures families and the wider community that their schools meet standards of excellence in education quality, operation, and faculty and staff competence. Many colleges and universities will only accept graduates from schools accredited by specific accrediting bodies.

How do I check if my child's school is accredited?

Review the list of schools or visit and use the “Find a School” feature.

Primary Accreditations



American Association of Christian Schools. National Christian accreditation body.



Association of Christian Schools International. Recognized by the National Council for Private School Accreditation. Accredits Christian schools from kindergarten through 12th grade.



American Montessori Society.



Association of Waldorf Schools of North America.



Hawai‘i Association of Independent Schools. Local umbrella organization that is part of the National Association of Independent Schools.



North American Division Commission on Accreditation. Seventh-day Adventist accreditation organization.



National Association for the Education of Young Children. National association of early childhood educators. Accredits preschool through third grade programs, including child care and before- and after-school programs.



National Lutheran School Accreditation. Nationwide accrediting body for Lutheran schools.



Western Association of Schools and Colleges. One of six regional accrediting associations for schools and colleges. WASC covers the West Coast, Hawai‘i, other Pacific basin areas and East Asia.



Western Catholic Educational Association. Accredits Hawai‘i Catholic schools.