Higher Learning Commission/Programmatic Accreditation

Reaffirmation of HLC Accreditation Demonstrates Continuous Quality Improvement

HLC accreditation and programmatic accreditation are foundational to the work we do through Jayhawks Rising. As a research-intensive, AAU-member institution, KU is committed to continuous quality improvement and accountability to ensure we are providing the highest educational quality for our students.

Higher Learning Commission/Programmatic Accreditation

KU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission – an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accreditation applies to the institution as a whole. For KU, HLC accreditation spans all locations, including the Medical Center. Accreditation demonstrates to the public and critical stakeholders such as students, parents, and the state that an institution is fulfilling its mission and providing a high-quality educational experience while engaging in continuous improvement.

HLC accreditation serves at least four additional important functions: 

  • HLC-accredited institutions are allowed by the U.S. Department of Education to disperse federal (Title IV) financial aid to students. About 50% of those who begin as freshmen at KU and graduate with a bachelor’s degree receive Title IV aid. Without such aid, these students would not be able to attend KU.

  • The Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR), KU’s governing body, requires us to maintain institutional accreditation. Loss of HLC’s institutional accreditation may prompt KBOR to revoke KU’s authority to award degrees.

  • HLC’s reaffirmation of accreditation process provides an opportunity to identify what we are doing well and celebrate those achievement. It also helps identify areas of focus and allows us to establish goals and strategies for improvement.

  • Many programmatic accreditors require an institution to be accredited by HLC or an equivalent body as a condition of the program applying for accreditation. 

Programmatic accreditation, sometimes called specialized or professional accreditation, applies to specific programs, disciplines, or schools within an institution. Like institutional-level accreditation, programmatic accreditation assures the public that the specific program provides a high-quality educational experience and that it meets the standards set by that discipline’s accrediting body. In addition, most professional licensing/certifying boards and organizations require that a student graduate from an accredited program as a condition of submitting an application for the license/certification and to sit for required exams.  

For the Higher Learning Commission, KU’s reaffirmation of accreditation is evaluated on a ten-year cycle through a peer-review process. An assurance argument demonstrating how KU meets HLC’s policies and criteria for accreditation is evaluated through a desk audit in year 4 while a longer self-study is due in year 10. Year 10 also includes a site visit from a peer review team.  KU’s next reaffirmation of accreditation and site visit will take place in AY 2025.  As part of that review, KU will demonstrate how we meet HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation, Obligations of Membership, and Assumed Practices, and comply with Federal regulations.

For programmatic accreditation, the criteria, standards, timelines, and processes for accreditation are determined by each specific accrediting body though typically organizations require a self-study and a peer-review site visit.

For institutional accreditation from HLC, all units should focus unit-level strategies that support the Student Success objectives of Jayhawks Rising, particularly in areas related to degree-level assessment, degree-mapping and curricular mapping and then using those assessment results for continuous improvement. 

In addition, units with programmatic accreditation should consider the applicability of any indicators required by its accrediting body and develop unit-level strategies to continue to meet these metrics.