Middle States Accreditation
FIT is scheduled to complete the next Middle States self-study in academic year 2021-2022. We began preparation in fall 2019.
The reaccreditation process has two major components: a self-study report and a site visit. The Middle States Commission’s Committee on Evaluation reviews the reports and other materials and determines whether to reaffirm FIT’s accreditation.
In the self-study, FIT will demonstrate how it meets the seven accreditation standards, summarized by Middle States as follows.
An accredited institution of higher education:
- has an appropriate mission (Standard I),
- lives it with integrity (II),
- delivers an effective student learning experience (III), and
- supports the overall student experience, both inside and outside the classroom (IV).
An accredited institution of higher education also:
- assesses its own educational effectiveness (V),
- uses planning and resources to ensure institutional improvement (VI), and
- is characterized by effective governance, leadership, and administration (VII).
During the site visit, a team of peer reviewers comes to campus to speak with students, faculty, staff, administrators, and members of the Board of Trustees. The visiting team may offer recommendations for improvement or require that certain actions be taken to comply with certain criteria.
Questions About Accreditation
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), commonly referred to as “Middle States,” is one of seven regional accreditors in the United States.
It accredits institutions of higher education primarily in the mid-Atlantic region, including Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, DC, and Puerto Rico.
Middle States is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and accredits more than 500 colleges and universities.
In most other countries, the government oversees the quality of higher education. In the United States, in contrast, a system of peer review through accrediting bodies developed. The U.S. government relies upon accreditors to oversee quality and to ensure that institutions comply with certain federal regulations.
Title IV of the Higher Education Act requires colleges to be regionally or nationally accredited in order to receive funding. Middle States accreditation gives FIT students access to federal financial aid.
Accreditation is an assurance to the public that an academic institution meets acceptable levels of performance on established standards and requirements. As Middle States explains in its Standards and Requirements for Affiliation,
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), through accreditation, mandates that its member institutions meet rigorous and comprehensive standards, which are addressed in the context of the mission of each institution and within the culture of ethical practices and institutional integrity expected of accredited institutions. In meeting the quality standards of MSCHE accreditation, institutions earn accredited status, and this permits them to state with confidence: “Our students are well-served; society is well-served.”
Middle States accreditation is an expression of confidence in an institution’s mission and goals, its performance, and its resources. An institution is accredited when the educational community has verified that its goals are achieved through self-regulation and peer review. The extent to which each educational institution accepts and fulfills the responsibilities inherent in the process of accreditation is a measure of its commitment to striving for and achieving excellence in its endeavors.
Middle States reviews the entire institution and thus provides accreditation for all areas. In contrast, ACBSP, CIDA, and NASAD provide accreditation for specific programs. ACBSP currently accredits seven programs in Business & Technology. CIDA accredits the Interior Design degrees. NASAD accredits all of the art and design programs at FIT, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, that fall under its purview.
To be accredited by Middle States, an institution must meet the Commission’s Requirements of Affiliation and demonstrate ability to comply with its Standards for Accreditation.
The 7 standards of accreditation include:
- Standard 1: Mission and goals;
- Standard 2: Ethics and integrity;
- Standard 3: Design and delivery of the student learning experience;
- Standard 4: Support of the student experience;
- Standard 5: Educational effectiveness assessment;
- Standard 6: Planning, resources and institutional improvement;
- Standard 7: Governance, leadership and administration.
In addition, institutions must comply with certain federal regulations that are monitored by Middle States through the Institutional Federal Compliance Report, completed as part of the self-study process. Institutions must provide evidence that they have documented policies and procedures in the following areas:
- Student identity verification in distance and correspondence education
- Transfer of credit policies and articulation agreements
- Title IV program responsibilities
- Institutional records of student complaints
- Required information for students and the public
- Standing with State and other accrediting agencies
- Contractual relationships
- Assignment of credit hours
The Middle States Commission recently revised the accreditation process so that it occurs in eight year cycles. These are the primary components:
- Self-Study. This is an in-depth institutional analysis that takes place every eight years. This requires the institution to review its programs, services, and operations with respect to the Middle States standards and its own mission and goals. A report documenting the institution’s compliance with the standards, strengths, and opportunities for improvement is produced by the institution. The report is reviewed by a team of peer reviewers who then visit campus for several days, speaking with a wide variety of constituents. Reviewers may make recommendations to the institution, and the Commission reviews the self-study and team report to determine whether accreditation is reaffirmed.
- Annual Institutional Update. Each institution is required to submit data about the institution, its students, and its programs annually. In addition, institutions may provide updates from Middle States recommendations made in prior self-studies.
- Mid-Point Peer Review. This takes place at the midpoint of the self-study process. It consists of a review of four years of institutional updates by a team of peers, as well as any follow up reports on Middle States recommendations. This replaces the previous Periodic Review Report, or PRR.