Criteria for Accreditation
The Higher Learning Commission has developed five criteria statements, each consisting of core components, in which institutions must present evidence as to how they are achieving them. The five criteria and core components are:
Criterion One: Mission and Integrity
The organization operates with integrity to ensure the fulfillment of its mission through structures and processes that involve the board, administration, faculty, staff, and students.
- Core component 1A: the organization's mission documents are clear and articulate publicly the organization's commitments.
- Core component 1B: in its mission documents, the organization recognizes the diversity of its learners, other constituencies, and the greater society it serves.
- Core component 1C: understanding of and support for the mission pervade the organization.
- Core component 1D: the organization’s governance and administrative structures promote effective leadership and support collaborative processes that enable the organization to fulfill its mission.
- Core component 1E: the organization upholds and protects its integrity.
Criterion Two: Preparing for the Future
The organization’s allocation of resources and its processes for evaluation and planning demonstrate its capacity to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its education, and respond to future challenges and opportunities.
- Core component 2A: the organization realistically prepares for a future shaped by multiple societal and economic trends.
- Core component 2B: the organization’s resource base supports its educational programs and its plans for maintaining and strengthening their quality in the future.
- Core component 2C: the organization’s ongoing evaluation and assessment processes provide reliable evidence of institutional effectiveness that clearly informs strategies for continuous improvement.
- Core component 2D: all levels of planning align with the organization’s mission, thereby enhancing its capacity to fulfill that mission.
Criterion Three: Student Learning and Effective Teaching
The organization provides evidence of student learning and teaching effectiveness that demonstrates it is fulfilling its educational mission.
- Core component 3A: the organization’s goals for student learning outcomes are clearly stated for each educational program and make effective assessment possible.
- Core component 3B: the organization values and supports effective teaching.
- Core component 3C: the organization creates effective learning environments.
- Core component 3D: the organization’s learning resources support student learning and effective teaching.
Criterion Four: Acquisition, Discovery, and Application of Knowledge
The organization promotes a life of learning for its faculty, administration, staff, and students by fostering and supporting inquiry, creativity, practice, and social responsibility in ways consistent with its mission.
- Core component 4A: the organization demonstrates, through the actions of its board, administrators, students, faculty, and staff, that it values a life of learning.
- Core component 4B: the organization demonstrates that acquisition of a breadth of knowledge and skills and the exercise of intellectual inquiry are integral to its educational programs.
- Core component 4C: the organization assesses the usefulness of its curricula to students who will live and work in a global, diverse, and technological society.
- Core component 4D: the organization provides support to ensure that faculty, students, and staff acquire, discover, and apply knowledge responsibly.
Criterion Five: Engagement and Service
As called for by its mission, the organization identifies its constituencies and serves them in ways both value.
- Core component 5A: the organization learns from the constituencies it serves and analyzes its capacity to serve their needs and expectations.
- Core component 5B: the organization has the capacity and the commitment to engage with its identified constituencies and communities.
- Core component 5C: the organization demonstrates its responsiveness to those constituencies that depend on it for service.
- Core component 5D: internal and external constituencies value the services the organization provides.
Please refer to the HLC page on maintaining accreditation for additional information on the criteria and core componenets, and examples of evidence