Higher Learning Commission


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Standard Pathway

The Standard Pathway is one of three options institutions have for maintaining accreditation with HLC. It follows a 10-year cycle and, like all pathways, is focused on quality assurance and institutional improvement. These improvement topics are integrated into comprehensive evaluations conducted during the cycle, as well as through interim monitoring, as required.

Note: HLC provides additional support for institutions on the Standard Pathway.

All institutions eligible to choose a pathway may participate in the Standard Pathway. Institutions may also be placed on the Standard Pathway if they meet certain conditions at the time of pathway determination.


Substantive Requirements for Reaffirmation of Accreditation: Policy number INST.C.10.010

Process Requirements for Each Pathway: Policy number INST.C.10.020

Process Requirements Leading to Commission Action for Reaffirmation: Policy number INST.C.10.030


The Standard Pathway’s 10-year cycle includes the following institutional reviews:

Regular Monitoring

Institutions submit an annual Institutional Update, which is reviewed by HLC to monitor organizational health, comply with certain federal requirements and identify any changes that may require HLC follow up. HLC will also apply change processes as appropriate to planned institutional developments, and will monitor institutions through reports, visits and other means as it deems appropriate.

Year 4: Comprehensive Evaluation

Institutions undergo a comprehensive evaluation to ensure they are meeting the Criteria for Accreditation, pursuing institutional improvement and complying with certain requirements set by the U.S. Department of Education. A Year 4 evaluation may include a determination that interim monitoring is necessary.

Note: Institutions undergoing a first comprehensive evaluation following granting of initial accreditation or removal of Probation will be considered for reaffirmation of accreditation as part of the Year 4 comprehensive evaluation. If reaffirmation is granted, the institution moves to Year 5 of the Standard Pathway cycle.

Year 10: Comprehensive Evaluation

The second comprehensive evaluation conducted in the Standard Pathway cycle follows the same process as the evaluation conducted in Year 4. The Year 10 evaluation leads to an action regarding the reaffirmation of the institution’s accreditation.


Pathways for Reaffirmation of Accreditation

Choosing a Pathway

AQIP Pathway

Open Pathway


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