Higher Learning Commission


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Learn about the Commission's New Pathways for Reaffirmation of Accreditation

The Commission maintains processes for determining eligibility for accreditation, for achieving candidacy status, for achieving initial accreditation, and for maintaining accreditation. The Commission currently offers two programs for maintaining accreditation: the Program to Evaluate and Advance Quality (PEAQ) and the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP). 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.


2015 HLC Resource Guide (March 2015)

AQIP Pathway: Adopted Policy Changes (June 2014)

Introduction to Pathways

Regional accreditation assures quality by verifying that an institution (1) meets threshold standards and (2) is engaged in continuous improvement. Both the Standard and Open Pathway feature: a ten-year cycle, a focus on both assurance and improvement, Assurance Reviews in Years 4 and 10, and the use of the HLC electronic Assurance System. All Commission Pathways require: annual filing of the Institutional Update, annual monitoring of financial and non-financial indicators, and adherence to Commission policies and practices on institutional change.

Assurance System Update

All institutions in the Standard and Open Pathways will use the Commission’s online Assurance System to upload and link evidentiary materials to their Assurance Arguments, which make the case for how the institution meets the Commission’s Criteria for Accreditation.

Assurance System Training Webinars

Quality Initiative Update

The Open Pathway requires an institution to designate one major improvement effort it has undertaken as its Quality Initiative for reaffirmation of accreditation. HLC has identified a number of Quality Initiative Proposals as a resource for institutions.


Important Note Regarding Support for Pathways

The Pathways procedures and systems are designed to be user-friendly and self-contained. The Assurance System has many built-in features to help in the process of preparing for accreditation reviews. The Commission provides access to the Assurance System to member institutions at no additional charge. Institutions need not purchase or use any additional software or services; the Assurance System is all that is needed. Institutions may at their sole discretion choose on their own to use other software to help organize or conduct various processes related to their accreditation.

Similarly, institutions do not need the assistance of outside consultants, programs, or services in order to fulfill the expectations of the Quality Initiative in the Open Pathway.

Resources from the Commission on Pathways are shown at the right of this page. The 2014 Annual Conference will feature extensive programming on the Open, Standard, and AQIP Pathways.


Related Resources

Information about the Standard Pathway

Information about the Open Pathway

Information about the AQIP Pathway

Federal Compliance Requirements



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