HLC FAQ: 9. Higher Learning Commission FAQs
a. Why must our campus comply with the Higher Learning Commission’s “Criteria for Accreditation”?
The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is the federally recognized accrediting agency for degree-granting higher education organizations for the North Central region of the U.S. Compliance with federal requirements by both institutions and the HLC is necessary to ensure that institutions accredited by the HLC are eligible for federal financial aid. The “Assumed Practices” within the “Criteria for Accreditation” are considered to be minimum standards to which all institutions are expected to comply (failure to comply with Assumed Practices is an automatic institutional sanction).
Although prompted by the Higher Learning Commission’s criteria, these efforts are seen as one of the many ways in which our campus ensures the integrity of its degrees and the quality of the student experience. When data on our recent historical practices are considered, we find that the vast majority of students are completing their degrees well over the new degree credit requirements while enrolled in their graduate programs. In many instances, programs find that the new requirements are in alignment with their current practices and expectations of students.
b. Some of these proposed policies do not seem to go far enough to ensure the quality and rigor for our graduate program. Can graduate programs have more rigorous requirements than those proposed in these new Graduate School policies?
In many cases, graduate programs can set more rigorous requirements than the Graduate School’s baseline requirements. Please contact the staff in the Graduate School’s Office of Academic Planning and Assessment for additional guidance.