Higher Learning Commission


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Choosing a Pathway for Reaffirmation of Accreditation

HLC has three Pathways for Reaffirmation of Accreditation: Standard, AQIP and Open. An institution’s pathway is typically determined upon the completion of an institution’s current cycle, which is after reaffirmation of accreditation in Year 10 of the Standard and Open Pathway and Year 8 in the AQIP Pathway.

Institutions may choose any pathway at the time of determination, unless they meet one or more of the conditions that would require placement on the Standard Pathway. An institution on the AQIP or Open Pathway may also be moved to the Standard Pathway if any of these conditions arise during the cycle.

Conditions Determining Placement on the Standard Pathway

An institution may be placed on or moved to the Standard Pathway if:

  • It has been accredited for fewer than 10 years.

  • It is in the process of a change of control, structure or organization or it has undergone a change of control, structure or organization within the last two years.

  • It is under HLC Notice or related action or has been under HLC sanction or related action within the last five years.

  • It has pending recommendations for a focused visit or extensive other monitoring or it has a history of extensive HLC monitoring, including accreditation cycles shortened to seven or fewer years, multiple monitoring reports, and multiple focused visits extending across more than one accrediting cycle.

  • It is or has been undergoing dynamic change (e.g., significant changes in enrollment or student body, opening or closing of multiple locations or campuses) or requiring frequent substantive change approvals since the last comprehensive evaluation.

  • It is raising or has raised significant HLC concerns about circumstances or developments at the institution (e.g., ongoing leadership turnover, extensive review by a governmental agency, patterns identified in financial and non-financial indicators).

  • It has failed to make a serious effort to conduct its Quality Initiative in the Open Pathway.

  • It has failed to follow required processes or failed to meet continuous quality improvement expectations on the AQIP Pathway.

Pathways for Reaffirmation of Accreditation

Standard Pathway

AQIP Pathway

Open Pathway


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