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Accreditation Criteria

HLC Specified Criteria for Accreditation

The Criteria for Accreditation are the standards of quality by which the Higher Learning Commission determines whether an institution merits accreditation or reaffirmation of accreditation. 

  • Criterion One - Mission

The institution’s mission is clear and articulated publicly; it guides the institution’s operations.

  • Criterion Two - Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct

The institution acts with integrity; its conduct is ethical and responsible.

  • Criterion Three - Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support

The institution provides high quality education, wherever and however its offerings are delivered.

  • Criterion Four - 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.

  • Criterion Five - 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.

Guiding Values

The HLC Criteria for Accreditation reflect a set of guiding values and should be understood within this context. The Commission expects that institutions have the standards, the processes, and the will for quality assurance in depth and throughout its educational offerings. 

  1. Focus on student learning
  2. Education as a public purpose
  3. Education for a diverse, technological, globally connected world
  4. A culture of continuous improvement
  5. Evidence-based institutional learning and self-presentation
  6. Integrity, transparency, and ethical behavior or practice
  7. Governance for the well-being of the institution
  8. Planning and management of resources to ensure institutional sustainability
  9. Mission-centered evaluation
  10. Accreditation through peer review

HLC Guiding Values