Q: Why is it important for a college or university to be accredited?

Three primary reasons include:

1) Being accredited signifies that an institution adheres to the highest academic standards by meeting the accrediting body’s Criteria for Accreditation.

2) Accreditation ensures that colleges and universities are able to receive federal financial aid for students and federal research grants for faculty.

3) When students seek to transfer or apply to graduate programs, the vast majority of schools will only accept credits or acknowledge degrees from an accredited institution.

Q: How does “reaccreditation” for Columbia work?

Every ten years, Columbia must demonstrate to the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) that it meets all five of its Criteria for Accreditation and that it adheres to federal policies and requirements. To do this, the college submits documents to HLC, which include the Assurance Argument and a Federal Compliance filing that are required by all institutions in the HLC region.

Q: What is the Assurance Argument?

The Assurance Argument is a report (35,000 words maximum) that describes the ways the college meets specific criteria for accreditation. It includes Evidence Files, which are documents (policies, reports, websites, communications) that provide additional evidence.

Q: What parts of Columbia does the Assurance Argument examine?

The Assurance Argument covers the five Criteria for Accreditation: 1) Mission; 2) Integrity; 3) Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support; 4) Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement; 5: Planning. 

Q: When is the Site Visit?

Our most recent site visit was November 5-6, 2018.

Q: Who will be visiting the college?

HLC assembles teams of trained peer reviewers to visit institutions. The HLC visiting team was comprised of faculty, administrators, and staff from other institutions, (ideally drawn from institutions similar to Columbia).

Q: What does the HLC team do during the visit?

The HLC team will meet with Columbia faculty, staff, administrators, trustees, students, and engage these stakeholders in conversations to confirm that the content in the Assurance Argument is accurate and reflects Columbia’s practice and operations.