What is Accreditation?
Accreditation is a process of peer review that the educational community has adopted for its self-regulation since early in the 20th century. It is a voluntary process intended to strengthen and sustain the quality and integrity of higher education, making it worthy of public confidence. Institutions choose to apply for accredited status, and once accredited, they agree to abide by the standards of their accrediting organization and to regulate themselves by taking responsibility for their own improvement.
About the Middle States Association
The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA), established in 1887, is a nonprofit, membership association, dedicated to educational improvement through evaluation and accreditation. The Association's website is located at www.middlestates.org.
Middle States Commission on Higher Education
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) was established in 1919. It is a voluntary, non-governmental, peer-based membership organization dedicated to educational excellence and improvement through peer evaluation and accreditation. MSCHE reviews institutions periodically through either on-site evaluation or other reports. Accreditation is continued only as a result of periodic reviews and evaluations through assessments of institutional achievements.
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) aspires to be the preeminent resource for institutions of higher education striving to achieve excellence in fulfilling their missions. It also intends, through voluntary assessment and adherence to high standards for student learning outcomes and operational behavior, to assure higher education's publics that its accredited institutions are fulfilling their stated purposes and addressing the publics' expectations.
The MSCHE is guided by these Core Values:
- Voluntary membership
- Self-regulation and peer-review
- A continuous and seamless relationship with member institutions to promote continuous self-evaluation and institutional improvement
- Respect for the unique mission of each institution and evaluation within that context
- Student learning and effective teaching
- Transparency about the accreditation processes and the status held by each member institution
- Commitment to the principles of cooperation, flexibility, and openness
- Responsiveness to the needs of the higher education community and societal changes
- Consideration of societal and institutional needs through attention to and emphasis on both improvement and compliance
- Responsiveness to a diverse, dynamic, global higher education community that is continually evolving
What Does it Mean to be Accredited?
In the Middle States region, accreditation is an expression of the confidence that the Middle States Commission on Higher Education has in an institution's mission and goals, its performance, and its resources. Based upon the results of an institutional review by a team of peers assigned by the Commission, accreditation attests to the judgment of the Commission that an institution has met the following criteria:
- that it has a mission appropriate to higher education;
- that it is guided by well-defined and appropriate goals, including goals for student learning;
- that it has established conditions and procedures under which its mission and goals can be realized;
- that it assesses both institutional effectiveness and student learning outcomes, and uses the results for improvement;
- that it is accomplishing its mission and goals substantially;
- that it is so organized, staffed, and supported so that it can be expected to continue to accomplish its mission and goals;
- that it meets the eligibility requirements and the standards for accreditation of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education;
*excerpted from MSCHE