B. Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support

1. Programs, Courses, and Credits

a. The institution conforms to commonly accepted minimum program length: 60 semester credits for associate degrees, 120 semester credits for bachelor’s degrees, and 30 semester credits beyond the bachelor’s for master’s degrees. Any exception to these minima must be explained and justified.

b. The institution requires that 30 of the final 60 credits earned for a bachelor’s degree that the institution awards and 15 of the final 30 for an associate degree it awards be credits earned at the institution.* Institutions that do not maintain such a requirement, or have programs that do not, are able to demonstrate structures or practices that ensure coherence and quality to the degree. (Consortial arrangements are considered to be such structures.)

* Note: For example, for a bachelor’s degree requiring 120 credits, the institution accepts no more than 90 credits in total through transfer or other assessment of prior learning, and the remaining 30 must fall within the final 60 credits awarded the student.

c. The institution meets the federal requirements for credit ascription described in the Higher Learning Commission’s Federal Compliance Program.

d. The institution adheres to policies on student academic load per term that reflect reasonable expectations for successful learning and course completion.

e. Courses that carry academic credit toward college-level credentials have content and rigor appropriate to higher education.

f. The institution has a process ensuring that all courses transferred and applied toward degree requirements demonstrate equivalence with its own courses required for that degree or serve as electives of equivalent rigor.

g. The institution has a clear policy on the maximum allowable credit for prior learning as a reasonable proportion of the credits required to complete the student’s program. Credit awarded for prior learning is documented, evaluated, and appropriate for the level of degree awarded. (Note that this requirement does not apply to courses transferred from other institutions.)

h. The institution’s policy and practice assure that at least 50% of courses applied to a graduate program are courses designed for graduate work, rather than undergraduate courses credited toward a graduate degree.

i. The institution maintains a minimum requirement for general education for all of its undergraduate programs whether through a traditional practice of distributed curricula (15 semester credits for AAS degrees, 24 for AS or AA degrees, and 30 for bachelor’s degrees) or through integrated, embedded, inter-disciplinary, or other accepted models that demonstrate a minimum requirement equivalent to the distributed model. Any variation is explained and justified.
2. Faculty Roles and Qualifications

a. Instructors (excluding teaching assistants enrolled in a graduate program and supervised by faculty) possess an academic degree relevant to what they are teaching and at least one level above the level at which they teach, except in programs for terminal degrees or when equivalent experience is established. In terminal degree programs, faculty members possess the same level of degree. When faculty members are employed based on equivalent experience, the institution defines a minimum threshold of experience and an evaluation process that is used in the appointment process.

b. Instructors teaching at the doctoral level have a record of recognized scholarship, creative endeavor, or achievement in practice commensurate with doctoral expectations.

c. Faculty participate substantially in:

  1. oversight of the curriculum—its development and implementation, academic substance, currency, and relevance for internal and external constituencies; 
  2. assurance of consistency in the level and quality of instruction and in the expectations of student performance; 
  3. establishment of the academic qualifications for instructional personnel; 
  4. analysis of data and appropriate action on assessment of student learning and program completion.

3. Support Services

a. The institution monitors and acts upon student indebtedness, default rates, and repayment of student loans as a matter of the welfare of its students.

b. Financial aid advising clearly and comprehensively reviews students’ eligibility for financial assistance and assists students in a full understanding of their debt and its consequences. 

c. The institution maintains timely and accurate transcript and records services.

View Criterion Three: Teaching and Learning—Quality, Resources, and Support