All mainstream American colleges and universities are accredited by one of six regional institutional accrediting associations. This accreditation is the key criterion used by government in determining eligibility for financial aid. Accreditation status is also critical when colleges and universities determine the eligibility of coursework for transfer from one institution to another. Since the late 19th Century, accreditation has existed as the foremost indicator of quality and excellence in American higher learning.
Institutions earn their accreditation through a rigorous process of self-study and a program of self-improvement. The principle of peer review is central to accreditation. This means that faculty and staff from other HLC-accredited institutions are actively involved in evaluation and that member institutions are assessed in reference to the expectations and conventions commonly shared by the higher education community.
The Higher Learning Commission is part of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The association was founded in 1895 as a membership organization for educational institutions. It is committed to developing and maintaining high standards of excellence.
The association is one of the six regional institutional accrediting associations in the United States. Through its commissions, it accredits and, thereby, grants membership to educational institutions in the 19-state north central region: Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming.
The Higher Learning Commission is recognized by the secretary of education and the Committee on Recognition of Postsecondary Accreditation (CORPA), now continued under CHEA, the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.
To learn more, visit the Higher Learning Commission website.