Higher Learning Commission


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Maintaining Accreditation through the Program to Evaluate and Advance Quality (PEAQ)

Note: In September 2012 the Commission began a three-year transition during which PEAQ will be replaced by two new Pathways, the Standard Pathway and the Open Pathway. AQIP, which has been in place since 1999, will continue as a third Pathway. This section is addressed to those institutions that are scheduled for PEAQ evaluations in 2012-13, 2013-14, and 2014-15.

The Program to Evaluate and Advance Quality (PEAQ) is one of two avenues for seeking and retaining accreditation. The other is AQIP. PEAQ employs a four-step comprehensive evaluation process to determine accreditation status. The program consists of an institutional self-study, an evaluation by a team of trained peer reviewers, and final decision-making by the Commission through three panels.

Through PEAQ, the Commission looks at traditional accreditation processes through the lens of a program and is better able to raise important questions about the fit of process to broader goals.

Institutions preparing for a PEAQ Comprehensive Evaluation may want to use this list of Materials for the PEAQ Evaluation Process.


PEAQ’s comprehensive evaluation process consists of these four steps:

  1. The organization engages in a self-study process for approximately two years and prepares a report of its findings in accordance with Commission expectations.
  2. The Commission sends a team of peer reviewers to conduct a comprehensive visit for continued accreditation and to write a report containing the team’s recommendation.
  3. The documents relating to the comprehensive visit are reviewed by a decision-making body.
  4. The decision-making body takes action on the team's recommendation.

    Every accredited institution must have its status reaffirmed not later than five years after it has been initially granted, and not later than ten years following each subsequent reaffirmation. The time for the next comprehensive evaluation for continued candidate or accredited status is explicitly stated in the Commission’s accreditation action.

    However, that evaluation may occur sooner if the institution introduces or plans changes that substantially alter its mission, functions, or character. The institution may also request a customized review.

    The Commission provides helpful information on effective preparation for and participation in the comprehensive visit for continued accredited status.

    Third-Party Comment provides information on the public's role in accreditation.