Criteria and Core Components

The Higher Learning Commission’s Criteria for Accreditation are broad statements of the areas of fundamental interest to the commission. The criteria are applied not to define minimum qualifications but to seek evidence of continual improvement, aspiration, and best practices. Minimum standards are not enough to meet the criteria.

Core components identify areas of particular focus within each criterion. Some core components are further elaborated in subcomponents, which address certain aspects of the core component that the commission seeks to ensure are not overlooked.

For accreditation, an institution must provide evidence that it meets all of the criteria and core components. The Higher Learning Commission will review the institution against each of these measures according to the following framework:

Core Components

The institution meets the core component if:

  1. the core component is met without concerns—that is, the institution meets or exceeds the expectations embodied in the component; or
  2. the core component is met with concerns—that is, the institution demonstrates the characteristics expected by the component, but performance in relation to some aspect of the component must be improved.

The institution does not meet the core component if it fails to meet the component in its entirety or is so deficient in one or more aspects that the component is judged not to be met.

Criteria for Accreditation

The institution meets the criterion if:

  1. the criterion is met without concerns—that is, the institution meets or exceeds the expectations embodied in the criterion; or
  2. the criterion is met with concerns—that is, the institution demonstrates the characteristics expected by the criterion, but performance in relation to some core components of the criterion must be improved.

The institution does not meet the criterion if it fails to meet the criterion in its entirety or is so deficient in one or more core components that the criterion is judged not to be met.

The institution meets the criterion only if all core components are met. The institution must meet all the criteria in order for it to meet the Criteria for Accreditation.

Accreditation Decision

The Higher Learning Commission will grant or continue accreditation (with or without conditions or sanctions), deny accreditation, or withdraw accreditation based on the outcome of this review.

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