Accreditation Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is accreditation?
Accreditation is the result of a positive external review by an authorized agency such as The Higher Learning Commission (HLC): A Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Accreditation assures the public that a college, university, school, or program can do its job. While many academic agencies accredit particular programs of study (nursing, business, physical therapy assistant, etc.), The Higher Learning Commission and other regional accrediting agencies are responsible for assuring that colleges and universities meet certain standards in terms of their missions, operations, and activities in teaching and student learning, discovery and promotion of knowledge, and service. Unaccredited schools are not eligible for many kinds of federal support.

2. Who accredits institutions of higher education?
Six regional associations are responsible for the accreditation of colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning: North Central, Middle States, New England, Northwest, Southern and Western Associations.

3. Who accredits Anoka-Ramsey Community College?
The Higher Learning Commission (HLC): A Commission of The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, is responsible for accrediting ARCC. Through its Commissions it accredits, and thereby grants membership to educational institutions in the nineteen-state North Central region: Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

4. How does the PEAQ accreditation process work?
The Higher Learning Commission of The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools provides two programs for maintaining accredited status: the Program to Evaluate and Advance Quality (PEAQ) and the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP). Anoka-Ramsey Community College is reviewed as part of PEAQ, which employs a five-step comprehensive evaluation process to determine continued accredited status.

  1. The organization engages in a self-study process for approximately two years and prepares a report of its findings in accordance with Commission expectations.
  2. The Commission sends an evaluation team of Consultant-Evaluators to conduct a comprehensive visit for continued accreditation and to write a report containing the team’s recommendations.
  3. The report of the evaluation team and other documents relating to the comprehensive visit are reviewed by a Readers Panel or, in some situations, a Review Committee of the HLC.
  4. The Institutional Actions Council (IAC) takes action on the Readers Panel’s recommendation.
  5. If a Review Committee reviewed the visit, the Review Committee takes action.

The Board of Trustees validates the work of IAC or a Review Committee, finalizing the action. Evaluations for initial and continued candidacy and initial accreditation follow the processes outlined above.

5. What does the HLC look for when it accredits colleges and universities?
In 2005, the HLC adopted a new set of criteria for evaluation:

  • Criterion One: Mission and Integrity
  • Criterion Two: Preparing for the Future
  • Criterion Three: Student Learning and Effective Teaching
  • Criterion Four: Acquisition, Discovery and Application of Knowledge
  • Criterion Five: Engagement and Service

HLC expects that ARCC has evaluated examples of evidence to support each criteria and its components. In addition, the Consultant-Evaluators also expect to see evidence that the organization is future-oriented, learning-focused, connected, and distinctive.

6. When will the HLC re-accreditation visit take place?
The campus last went through the re-accreditation process in 2006 and received approval for ten years. 

7. How did the college prepare for the re-accreditation visit in 2006?
A Steering Committee and Criteria-based subcommittees were formed to evaluate evidence, make sense of that evidence in light of each criteria, and helped prepare the college for the 2006 visit.

8. Who was on the HLC visiting team?
The college was visited by an evaluation team of trained Consultant-Evaluators. These are administrators, staff people, and faculty who have been accepted to the Consultant-Evaluators by The HLC. All have gone through training for such visits and will be familiar with the criteria. 

9. What did the team do during the visit?
The team had received the complete college Self-Study Report and had access to documents via the web site. During the visit, they sought to validate the content of the report in terms of the identified strengths, as well as concerns that need attention or issues that may confront us in the future. Team members had meetings with key individuals and groups from across the college and held open meetings.

10. How were the findings be reported?
The HLC team addressed the Criteria and Core Components for accreditation. The team noted the Components that have been met, any that have not been met and any qualifications or concerns regarding them. In addition, the team provided advice to the college about issues that might be of concern and ways in which ARCC might seek to approach or address those issues in the Advancement section.

11. Where can I get more information on accreditation?
The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools web site:

12. What are the HLC Criteria?

  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.

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