Frequently Asked Questions

What is HLC?
The Higher Learning Commission is empowered to conduct accrediting activities for degree-granting institutions of higher education. HLC was previously referred to as NCA – the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

What is accreditation?
Accreditation is formal recognition of the quality of an educational institution. Accreditation is granted by the Higher Learning Commission as a result of a systematic evaluation of the institution as a whole. Their evaluation will include a review of educational activities, governance, administration, financial stability, admissions, student services, institutional resources, student learning, institutional effectiveness, and relationships with internal and external constituencies.

Why is institutional accreditation important?
Institutional accreditation provides recognition that an institution meets certain quality standards. Accreditation means that credits and degrees earned will be respected by employers and other educational institutions. Accreditation facilitates transferability of coursework and it provides access to student financial aid and certain federal funding opportunities.

What is the self-study process?
Prior to applying for re-accreditation the institution engages in a study of its own effectiveness in achieving its mission. The self-study is an opportunity for the institution to make a comprehensive evaluation of how well it is meeting its goals and to put into place changes or plans for improvements. At the end of the self-study the institution prepares a report for the Higher Learning Commission to use as a basis for evaluating the institution.

When will Ferris State University undergo this process?
Most institutions are reviewed every 10 years to ensure that they continue to meet the criteria for accreditation through a peer review process. Ferris State University will be reviewed during academic year 2010-2011.

The accreditation review has two basic components. First, the institution is required to conduct a thorough self-study to determine if the five criteria are satisfied and assess the institution’s strengths and challenges, and then file a report on its findings with the HLC. Second, a team of HLC peer reviewers visits the campus to verify the accuracy of the self-study report and offer suggestions concerning the identified areas of concern.

What are the criteria on which the institution will be judged?
The broad criteria are listed below. A full listing of criteria plus specific required core components is available at on the HLC Criteria and Core Components web page.

  1. Mission and Integrity
    The organization operates with integrity to ensure the fulfillment of its mission through structures and processes that involve the board, administration, faculty, staff, and students.

  2. Preparing for the Future
    The organization’s allocation of resources and its processes for evaluation and planning demonstrate its capacity to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its education, and respond to future challenges and opportunities.

  3. Student Learning and Effective Teaching
    The organization provides evidence of student learning and teaching effectiveness that demonstrates it is fulfilling its educational mission.

  4. Acquisition, Discovery, and Application of Knowledge
    The organization promotes a life of learning for its faculty, administration, staff, and students by fostering and supporting inquiry, creativity, practice, and social responsibility in ways consistent with its mission.

  5. Engagement and Service
    As called for by its mission, the organization identifies its constituencies and serves them in ways both value.