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Overview

from Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education - 2009 Edition

An institution of higher education is a community dedicated to the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge, to the study and clarification of values, and to the advancement of the society it serves. To support these goals, institutions of higher education within the Middle States region joined together in 1919 to form the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, a professional association devoted to educational improvement through accreditation. Today’s success or organization for higher education accreditation is the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Accreditation is the means of self-regulation and peer review adopted by the educational community. The accrediting process is intended to strengthen and sustain the quality and integrity of higher education, making it worthy of public confidence and minimizing the scope of external control. The extent to which each educational institution accepts and fulfills the responsibilities inherent in the process is a measure of its concern for freedom and quality in higher education and its commitment to striving for and achieving excellence in its endeavors.

Middle States’ accreditation is an expression of confidence in an institution’s mission and goals, its performance, and its resources. Based upon the results of institutional review by peers and colleagues assigned by the Commission, accreditation attests to the judgment of the Commission on Higher Education 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 organized, staffed, and supported so that it can be expected to continue to accomplish its mission and goals; and
  • that it meets the eligibility requirements and standards of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Membership in the Middle States Association follows a period of candidacy lasting up to five years. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education 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.

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