About Middle States Commission
The multiyear process involves a self-study, a campus visit from a team of academics and administrators from other institutions who have read the self-study, and a ruling on the accreditation status of the institution. MSCHE accreditation applies across the university, regardless of accreditation processes for individual schools or programs.
MSCHE Guidelines and Documents
- Standards for Accreditation and Requirements of Affiliation (PDF)
- Self-Study: Creating a Useful Process and Report (PDF)
Standard I: Mission and Goals
The institution's mission defines its purpose within the context of higher education, the students it serves, and what it intends to accomplish. The institution's stated goals are clearly linked to its mission and specify how the institution fulfills its mission.
Standard II: Ethics and Integrity
Ethics and integrity are essential, indispensable, and defining hallmarks of effective higher education institutions. In all activities, whether internal of external, an institution must be faithful to its mission, honor its contracts and commitments, adhere to its politics, and represent itself truthfully.
Standard III: Design and Delivery of the Student Learning Experience
An institution provides students with learning experiences that are characterized by rigor and coherence at all program, certificate, and degree levels, regardless of instructional modality. All learning experiences, regardless of modality, program pace/schedule, level, and setting are consistent with higher education expectations.
Standard IV: Support of the Student Experience
Across all education experiences, settings, levels, and instructional modalities, the institution recruits and admits students whose interests, abilities, experiences, and goals are congruent with its mission and educational offerings. The institution commits to student retention, persistence, completion, and success through a coherent and effective support system sustained by qualified professionals, which enhance the quality of the learning environment, contributes to the educational experience, and fosters student success.
Standard V: Educational Effectiveness Assessment
Assessment of student learning and achievement demonstrates that the institution’s students have accomplished educational goals consistent with their program of study, degree level, the institution’s mission, and appropriate expectations for institutions of higher education.
Standard VI: Planning, Resources, and Institutional Improvement
The institution’s planning processes, resources, and structures are aligned with each other and are sufficient to fulfill its mission and goals, to continually assess and improve its programs and services, and to respond effectively to opportunities and challenges.
Standard VII: Governance, Leadership and Administration
The institution is governed and administered in a manner that allows it to realize its stated mission and goals in a way that effectively benefits the institution, its students, and the other constituencies it serves. Even when supported by or affiliated with governmental, corporate, religious, educational system, or other unaccredited organizations, the institution has education as its primary purpose, and it operates as an academic institution with appropriate autonomy.
Compliance with Accreditation-Relevant Federal Regulations
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education, as a federally recognized accreditor, is obligated to ensure that its candidate and member institutions comply with the accreditation-relevant federal regulations developed by the U.S. Department of Education in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008. Further, the Commission is required to review candidate and member institutions’ continued compliance with Title IV program responsibilities.
Student Identity Verification in Distance and Correspondence Education
The Commission must verify that institutions have effective policies and procedures in place to ensure that the students who register in a distance or correspondence education course are the same students who participate in and complete the course, and receive the academic credit.
Transfer of Credit Policies and Articulation Agreements
The Commission must confirm that an “institution has transfer of credit policies that: (1) are publicly disclosed in accordance with section 668.43(a)(11); and (2) include a statement of criteria established by the institution regarding the transfer of credit earned at another institution of higher education.”
Title IV Program Responsibilities
The Commission must review the institution’s record of compliance with its Title IV program responsibilities. Institutions must provide a record of compliance with the institution’s program responsibilities “based on the most recent student loan default rate data provided by the Secretary, the results of financial or compliance audits, program reviews, and any other information that the Secretary may provide to the agency.”
Institutional Record of Student Complaints
The Commission must confirm that institutions have effective policies and procedures for tracking and resolving student complaints within a reasonable time frame. Further, the institution must also show evidence of a process for making modifications and improvements to the institution as a result of information obtained in handling student complaints.
Required Information for Students and the Public
The Commission must confirm that institutions make available to students and the general public fair, accurate and complete information in catalogs, handbooks, and other publications regarding the institution’s calendar, grading, admissions, academic program requirements, tuition and fees, and refund policies. In addition, the Commission must verify that institutions collect and post information on their websites concerning student performance in academic programs and their successful completion. Information should also be available regarding student employment after graduation and performance on licensing exams, as appropriate.
Institutions that participate in Title IV programs, with students who receive federal financial aid, are responsible for disclosure of certain information to current and prospective students, including but not limited to retention rates, completion/graduation rates, and placement/employment rates.
Standing with State and Other Accrediting Agencies
The Commission must verify that an institution is properly authorized or licensed to operate and is in good standing with each state in which it is authorized or licensed to operate. In addition, if the institution has status with a specialized, programmatic, or institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, the Commission must verify that the institution is in good standing with the agency or agencies.
The Commission is required to review and approve any contractual arrangements an institution enters into with an organization that is not certified to participate in the Title IV, HEA programs, and offers more than 25 percent of one or more of the accredited institution’s educational programs. Further, the institution must make readily available a description of the written arrangements the institution has entered into with an organization that is not certified to participate in the Title IV, HEA programs, and offers more than 25 percent of one or more of the accredited institution’s educational programs.
Assignment of Credit Hours
The Commission “must conduct an effective review and evaluation of the reliability and accuracy of the institution’s assignment of credit hours.” Specifically, the Commission must review the institution’s policies and procedures for determining the credit hours awarded as well as the application of the institution’s policies and procedures to its programs and coursework, and make a “reasonable determination of whether the institution’s assignment of credit hours conforms to commonly accepted practice in higher education.”