Criteria for Accreditation and Core Components

What criteria are used for accreditation?

The HLC has adopted new Criteria for Accreditation, Assumed Practices, and Obligations of Affiliation, which went into effect January 1, 2013. There are five statements of Criteria for Accreditation, each with Core Components that identify specific areas of focus within the criterion.  Institutions must provide specific evidence of continual improvement and aspiration in the following areas:

  • Mission: The institution’s mission is clear and articulated publicly; it guides the institution’s operations.
  • Integrity - Ethical and Responsible Conduct: The institution acts with integrity; its conduct is ethical and responsible.
  • Teaching and Learning - Quality, Resources, and Support: The institution provides high quality education, wherever and however its offerings are delivered.
  • Teaching and Learning - Evaluation and Improvement: The institution demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs, learning environments, and support services, and it evaluates their effectiveness for student learning through processes designed to promote continuous improvement.
  • Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness: The institution’s resources, structures, and processes are sufficient to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its educational offerings, and respond to future challenges and opportunities.  The institution plans for the future.

The Assumed Practices are defined by the HLC as practices that are shared by institutions of higher education in the United States.  These have developed out of common experience over time and are considered to be basic to higher education.

The Obligations of Affiliation describe behavioral requirements of institutions that are members of the HLC, including that member institutions will abide by Commission policies.  Of particular importance is the requirement for transparency with respect to specific outcomes of accreditation review, which are made available to the public.

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