Higher Learning Commission


Find Accredited Institutions arrow

The Academies

The Academies are programs aimed at assisting HLC-accredited institutions to define, develop and implement comprehensive strategies for institutional improvement. Designed and led by experienced practitioners, the Academies provide a framework and guidance for developing customized projects. The programs are adaptive to the needs of the wide range of institutional types served by HLC and support improvement within the context of an institution’s mission, vision and goals.

 Academies Overview

Participation in the Academies may count toward requirements for accreditation processes: Academy participation may serve as the Quality Initiative for institutions in the Open Pathway or as an Action Project for institutions in the AQIP Pathway. Participation in the Academies does not guarantee the successful completion of a Quality Initiative or Action Project. The Academies also may be completed in conjunction with other improvement programs offered by nonprofits or to meet locally mandated initiatives. Additionally, institutions may choose to focus Academy Projects on addressing issues identified as areas for improvement by HLC evaluations or by institutions themselves.

Assessment Academy

The Assessment Academy is tailored for institutions interested in developing an ongoing commitment to assessing and improving student learning. The Academy offers each institution personalized guidance in developing, documenting and implementing a systematic approach to institutional assessment. Institutions participating in the Assessment Academy are presented with new ideas and techniques for influencing institutional culture, increasing capacity to assess student learning and using assessment data to improve student learning.

Persistence and Completion Academy

The Persistence and Completion Academy is designed for institutions wishing to build institutional capacity for the improvement of student persistence and completion. The Academy offers a structured program that aims to help institutions, with the guidance of a dedicated mentor, establish clear goals and strategies for specific student population groups and implement initiatives to support attainment of those goals. Participating institutions also learn how to collect and analyze data to identify patterns that lead to data-informed decisions.

Academy Features and Benefits

The four-year, structured programs focus on cultivating strategies that lead to institutional improvements. Throughout the Academy experience, institutions receive access to:

  • Analysis and guidance from Academy mentors and Scholars on planning, developing and implementing an Academy Project related to assessment or persistence and completion.
  • Face-to-face events in which institutions receive consultation from mentors and scholars while networking and sharing best practices with other institutions.
  • The Collaboration Network—an online tool for documenting progress, results and the impact of Academy work.
  • A web-based library of resources and Academy Projects from past and current Academy participants.

Participant Testimonials

“Prior to joining the Academy, all levels of assessment at our college were woefully inadequate (and repeatedly cited by HLC visiting teams). We have made remarkable strides forward with course, program, and institute-wide levels of assessment. We still have work to do, but our forward momentum is a result of our participation in the Assessment Academy.”—Assessment Academy graduate

“Participation in the Academy elevated our work as an institutional priority, which helped us secure the resources we needed to achieve our goals.”—Assessment Academy graduate

“The Academy has been very effective in helping us recognize how and why student data should be used in our college's student success efforts.”—Persistence and Completion Academy member


Mentors and ScholarsSenior Scholar Gloria Rogers

HLC retains a group of assessment, persistence and completion practitioners known as Academy mentors. Early in the Academy experience, each institution is assigned a Primary Mentor who guides the institution in developing and implementing its Academy Project. The Primary Mentor provides institutions with constructive criticism and advice on the progress of their Academy work. Mentors may also serve as Academy Event Facilitators.

Institutions also interact with Scholars during Academy participation. These subject-matter experts design the curriculum and activities for all of the Academy events. Scholars review institutions' project updates and Primary Mentors' responses to offer an additional perspective on the progress an institution is making while in the Academy.

Shared LearningShared Learning Experience

Institutions accepted into an Academy are grouped into a cohort that provides regular opportunities to work collaboratively and share their ideas with other institutions throughout the Academy cycle. Participants are able to interact with their fellow cohort members at Academy events and through the Collaboration Network, where they can see the Project Updates from other institutions' teams.


Assessment Academy




Persistence and Completion Academy




Accreditation Processes

Quality Initiative

Action Projects

Professional Development Week

HLC’s Professional Development Week, held twice annually, offers key information and strategies designed to spur institutional improvement in the areas of assessment of student learning and student success, persistence and completion.


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.