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Learn About HLC
What is HLC?
HLC stands for the “Higher Learning Commission.” The HLC mission is, “Advance the common good through quality assurance of higher education as the leader in equitable, transformative, and trusted accreditation in the service of students and member institutions.” HLC accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the United States. HLC is an institutional accreditor, accrediting the institution as a whole.
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. When you click the link above, there are five Criteria for Accreditation, detailed followed by the Core Components that clarify how an institution can meet the standards.
Foundational to the Criteria and Core Components is a set of practices shared by institutions of higher education in the United States. Unlike the Criteria for Accreditation, these Assumed Practices are (1) generally matters to be determined as facts, rather than matters requiring professional judgment and (2) not expected to vary by institutional mission or context.
The Higher Learning Commission’s Criteria for Accreditation reflect a set of Guiding Values. HLC articulates these Guiding Values so as to offer a better understanding of the Criteria and the intentions that underlie them. The responsibility for assuring the quality of an institution rests first with the institution itself. Institutional accreditation assesses the capacity of an institution to assure its own quality and expects it to produce evidence that it does so.
Open Pathway Overview
Jefferson College has chosen the “Open Pathway” option for maintaining its accreditation with HLC. The link above will share more information about the policies, procedures, monitoring, and other steps involved in the Open Pathway process.
The Open Pathway requires an institution to designate one major improvement effort it has undertaken during its 10-year accreditation cycle as its Quality Initiative. The Quality Initiative takes place between years 5 and 9 of the 10-year Open Pathway cycle. Jefferson College focused on Attendance Tracking as its first Quality Initiative between 2014 and 2018. To learn more about the Quality Initiative requirements and process, please click on the link above.
For all institutions, a comprehensive evaluation includes the following components:
- Assurance Review to demonstrate the institution’s compliance with HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation
- Federal Compliance Review
- Student Opinion Survey
- On-site peer review visit
Information listed above was adapted from https://www.hlcommission.org/ (May 2023)