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HLC Accreditation Criteria

The accreditation criteria are the quality standards that HLC uses to determine whether or not an institution has earned accreditation or reaffirmation of accreditation. While the Year Four review is not a re-application for re-accreditation (we are currently accredited through the 2028-29 academic year), the purpose of the review is to ensure that we remain in compliance with all of the criteria and core components.

Criterion 1: Mission

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

Core Components

  • The institution’s mission is articulated publicly and operationalized throughout the institution.
  • The institution’s mission demonstrates commitment to the public good.
  • The institution provides opportunities for civic engagement in a diverse, multicultural society and globally connected world, as appropriate within its mission and for the constituencies it serves.

Criterion 2. Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct

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

Core Components

  • The institution establishes and follows policies and processes to ensure fair and ethical behavior on the part of its governing board, administration, faculty and staff.
  • The institution presents itself clearly and completely to its students and to the public.
  • The governing board of the institution is autonomous to make decisions in the best interest of the institution in compliance with board policies and to ensure the institution’s integrity.
  • The institution is committed to academic freedom and freedom of expression in the pursuit of truth in teaching and learning.
  • The institution’s policies and procedures call for responsible acquisition, discovery and application of knowledge by its faculty, staff and students.

Criterion 3. Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support

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

Core Components

  • The rigor of the institution’s academic offerings is appropriate to higher education.
  • The institution offers programs that engage students in collecting, analyzing and communicating information; in mastering modes of intellectual inquiry or creative work; and in developing skills adaptable to changing environments.
  • The institution has the faculty and staff needed for effective, high-quality programs and student services.
  • The institution provides support for student learning and resources for effective teaching.

Criterion 4. 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.

Core Components

  • The institution ensures the quality of its educational offerings.
  • The institution engages in ongoing assessment of student learning as part of its commitment to the educational outcomes of its students.
  • The institution pursues educational improvement through goals and strategies that improve retention, persistence and completion rates in its degree and certificate programs.

Criterion 5. Institutional Effectiveness, Resources and Planning

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.

Core Components

  • Through its administrative structures and collaborative processes, the institution’s leadership demonstrates that it is effective and enables the institution to fulfill its mission.
  • The institution’s resource base supports its educational offerings and its plans for maintaining and strengthening their quality in the future.
  • The institution engages in systematic and integrated planning and improvement.

Each core component has sub-components, all of which must be met in order for the criteria to be considered met. Find more information about the Criteria and Core Components (