In reviewing institutions for accreditation, the Higher Learning Commission seeks a culture of aspiration and continual improvement rather than satisfaction of minimum requirements. It also acknowledges the great diversity of its institutions. For these reasons, the commission uses the term “criteria” rather than “standards” in the accreditation process.

The commission’s evaluation of performance begins with basic eligibility requirements and assumed practices but moves beyond these to include the fulfillment of broad criteria for accreditation and specific core components that ensure institutional effectiveness. A set of guiding values reflect the intentions behind the criteria.

Behavioral requirements for member institutions are part of the commission’s obligations of affiliation. Candidates for accreditation also must follow certain federal compliance policies.

Colleges and universities seeking accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission must provide evidence that they meet all of the criteria and requirements through an extensive institutional self-study and a peer review team visit.