Standards & Compliance
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education Accreditation Standards and Requirements of Aﬃliation are comprised of the enclosed seven standards and 15 requirements as well as a set of compliance requirements. Accredited institutions are expected to demonstrate compliance with these standards and requirements, to conduct their activities in a manner consistent with the standards and requirements, and to engage in ongoing processes of self-review and improvement.
Each standard is expressed in one or two sentences and is then followed by criteria. The criteria specify characteristics or qualities that encompass the standard. Institutions and evaluators will use these criteria together with the standards, within the context of institutional mission, to demonstrate or determine compliance. Institutions and evaluators should not use the criteria as a checklist.
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 central, indispensable, and defining hallmarks of eﬀective higher education institutions. In all activities, whether internal or external, an institution must be faithful to its mission, honor its contracts and commitments, adhere to its policies, 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 educational 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 enhances 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 continuously 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.
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. Commission policy regarding federal compliance requirements for institutions was revised and enacted in January 2013, indicating that institutions must meet these federal regulations to be accredited by the Commission.