Higher Learning Commission


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The Criteria for Accreditation: Glossary

There are a few words and phrases in the Criteria that require additional clarification, seemingly simple language that, in practice, may be used in different ways by different member institutions. This glossary explains how these words are used within the Criteria for Accreditation. Its intent is not to prescribe how institutions must use a particular word or phrase locally, but rather to offer a means to ensure a consistent reading of the meaning and expectations of the Criteria for Accreditation.

auxiliary denotes activities and services related to but not intrinsic to educational functions: dining services, student housing, faculty or staff housing, intercollegiate athletics, student stores, a Public Radio station, etc. In many institutions auxiliary simultaneously denotes a segregated budget and dedicated revenues.

assessment and evaluation are used as ordinary language synonyms. When a narrower referent is intended, the terms are modified, as in “assessment of student learning” or “evaluation of academic services.”

control as used in the Criteria refers to the institution’s status as a public, private-not-for-profit, or private-for-profit institution, and in the latter instances, to the institution’s ownership and the board’s power to direct its affairs.

dual credit refers to courses taught to high school students for which the students receive both high school credit and college credit. These courses or programs are offered under a variety of names; the Criteria on “dual credit” apply to all of them as they involve the accredited institution’s responsibility for the quality of its offerings.

faculty and instructors refer to all those an institution employs or assigns to teach students. Faculty is used to refer to the group rather than to each individual instructional staff member, typically to distinguish faculty from administration.

goals and outcomes are used inconsistently by member institutions in the context of assessment of student learning, to the extent that one institution’s goal may be another’s outcome and vice versa. When they use either term, the Criteria indicate through context whether the term refers to the learning intended or to how much students actually learn.

public in phrases such as “makes available to the public” or “states publicly” refers to people in general, including current and potential students. In phrases such as “the public good,” the Criteria refer to public, as opposed to private, good. The modifier public as used to describe governing board members is defined within the statement requiring such members.

wherever and however delivered is intended to encompass all modes of delivery and all locations, modalities, and venues, including but not limited to the main campus, additional locations, distance delivery, dual credit, contractual or consortial arrangements.


More about the Criteria

Guiding Values

Criteria for Accreditation Effective January 1, 2013

Assumed Practices Effective January 1, 2013

Obligations of Affiliation Effective January 1, 2013