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Learn About HLC
What is HLC?
HLC stands for the “Higher Learning Commission”. The HLC mission is, “Serving the common good by assuring and advancing the quality of higher learning.” HLC accredits colleges and universities in a 19-state region of the United States. HLC is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a gatekeeper agency. HLC has agreed to fulfill specific federally defined responsibilities within the accreditation processes to assure quality in higher education for the students who benefit from federal financial aid programs.
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 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 Criteria and Core Components, these Assumed Practices are (1) generally matters to be determined as facts, rather than matters requiring professional judgment and (2) unlikely to vary by institutional mission or context.
HLC articulates guiding values to offer a better understanding of the Criteria and the intentions that underlie them. Institutional accreditation assesses the capacity of an institution to assure its own quality and expects it to produce evidence that it does so. HLC expects that institutions have the standards, the processes, and the will for quality assurance in depth and throughout its educational offerings.
Open Pathway Overview
Jefferson College has chosen the “Open Pathway” option for maintaining its accreditation with HLC. This link will share more information about the policies, procedures, monitoring and other steps involved in the Open Pathway process.
The Open Pathway requires the institution to undertake a major Quality Initiative designed to suit its present concerns or aspirations. The Quality Initiative takes place between years 5 and 9 of the 10-year Open Pathway cycle. Jefferson College has chosen to focus on Attendance Tracking as the first Quality Initiative. 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:
- Submission and review of institutional materials demonstrating compliance with HLC's Criteria for Accreditation (An Assurance Review for institutions on the Standard and Open Pathways, and a Comprehensive Quality Review for institutions on the AQIP Pathway.)
- Federal Compliance Review
- Student Opinion Survey
- On-site peer review visit
Information listed above was adapted from https://www.hlcommission.org/ (May 2018)