In the United States, colleges and universities voluntarily seek accreditation from nongovernmental bodies. There are two types of educational accreditation: institutional and specialized. The Higher Learning Commission conducts institutional accreditation. The Commission has developed resources for individuals to better understand the role of accreditation in U.S. higher education.
Institutional accreditation is provided by regional and national associations of schools and colleges. There are six regional associations, each named after the region in which it operates (Middle States, New England, North Central, Northwest, Southern, Western). The regional associations are independent of one another, but they cooperate extensively and acknowledge one another’s accreditation. Several national associations focus on particular kinds of institutions (for example, trade and technical colleges, and religious colleges and universities). An institutional accrediting agency evaluates an entire educational organization in terms of its mission and the agency’s standards or criteria.
The Commission publishes an Overview booklet that provides brief general information about the accreditation of higher learning organizations by The Higher Learning Commission, the Criteria for Accreditation, frequently asked questions, and resources.
Colleges and Universities Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission
The Commission accredits more than 1,000 colleges and universities in nineteen states. The states are Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Search the Higher Learning Commission’s Directory of Institutions
Resources for the Public
The Directory of Institutions has a Statement of Affiliation Status and an Organizational Profile for each institution. The Statement of Affiliation Status contains a summary of the institution’s official relationship with the Commission. The Organizational Profile contains information on the college or university’s characteristics taken from the annual report submitted by the institution to the Commission. The Commission has compiled some additional resources for the public.
Complaints Against an Affiliated Institution
Each year, the Commission receives a number of complaints about institutions from faculty, students and other parties. The Commission has established a clear distinction between individual grievances and complaints that appear to involve broad institutional practices. Where a complaint does raise issues regarding the institution’s ongoing ability to meet the Criteria of Accreditation, the Commission forwards the complaint to the institution and requests a formal response.
Public Disclosure Notices
The Board of Trustees issues a public disclosure notice regarding a sanction or an adverse action taken on the affiliated institution. The notice includes a history of the institution’s relationship with the Commission, the nature of the adverse action, and a brief analysis of the situation that prompted the action.