HLC operating area
|Predecessor||North Central Association of Colleges and Schools|
|Purpose||Higher education accreditation|
|Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming|
|Board of Directors|
The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is a regional accreditor in the United States. It accredits post-secondary education institutions in the central United States: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The headquarters of the organization is in Chicago, Illinois.
The United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognize the commission as the assigned regional accrediting organization. HLC grew out of the higher education division of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). The NCA dissolved in 2014.
The Higher Learning Commission has five major criteria for accreditation. They are: (1) Mission, (2) Ethics, (3) Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support, (4) Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement, and (5) Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness.
In 2009, the Office of the Inspector General of the US Department of Education (OIG-ED) criticized the Higher Learning Commission's oversight of for-profit colleges and recommended that the agency consider "limiting, suspending, or terminating the organization's status." Although the OIG reaffirmed their recommendation that the department consider sanctions for the HLC the following year, adding critical reviews of HLC's accreditation of American InterContinental University and The Art Institute of Colorado, the Department of Education did not withdraw or limit HLC's accreditation authority. Six years later in 2015, the OIG-ED again criticized HLC this time with an audit on the review process the HLC used while considering colleges' proposals for competency-based credentials.
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