Open Illinois at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Accredited since 1913

Accreditation Overview

What is accreditation?

“Accreditation” is the primary means of assuring and improving the quality of higher education institutions and programs in the United States. Active for the past 100 years, this private, voluntary system of self-examination and peer review has been central to the creation of a US higher education enterprise that is outstanding in many respects.

–From the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), “Ten Ways in Which Accreditation Serves Students, Society, and the Public Interest”

What are the types of accreditation?

Institutional/Regional Accreditation

Colleges and universities as a whole belong to a regional or national accrediting organization depending on the institutional location and type, and through this voluntary membership, they seek institutional accreditation. As membership organizations, the accrediting associations receive dues and governance from their members. Peer review is used as the mechanism to both assure quality and to improve institutions. Since the Higher Education Act of 1965, accreditation is required for institutions to receive federal financial aid. These institutional accreditors are overseen by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a member of the Higher Learning Commission (HLC, known prior to 2014 as the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools). HLC accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in a 19-state region of the United States. Institutions must seek reaffirmation of accreditation on a 10-year cycle. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been accredited since 1913, and on March 30-31, 2020, we will have our reaffirmation on-site peer review visit.

Specialized/Programmatic Accreditation

Some academic disciplines, especially those that are professional or pre-professional, have national accrediting bodies that monitor and accredit individual participating programs. Admissions to graduate schools and candidacy for licenses or other professional certifications may be limited to students who graduate from an accredited program.

Why does accreditation matter?

  • Title IV federal financial aid funds are limited to students enrolled in an accredited institution. In 2017-2018, this amounted to over $250 million at Illinois.
  • An institution’s accreditation status can impact credit transfer from one school to another.
  • Many graduate and professional schools restrict admission to students who graduated from an accredited institution.
  • Through accreditation’s processes of self-assessment and external peer review, an institution can ensure that it attains a level of quality and progresses toward meaningful and lasting improvement.

What are the accreditation criteria?

HLC Criteria for Accreditation

Criterion One. Mission
The institution’s mission is clear and articulated publicly; it guides the institution’s operations.

Criterion Two. Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct
The institution acts with integrity; its conduct is ethical and responsible.

Criterion Three. Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support
The institution provides high quality education, wherever and however its offerings are delivered.

Criterion Four. Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement
The institution demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs, learning environments, and support services, and it evaluates their effectiveness for student learning through processes designed to promote continuous improvement.

Criterion Five. Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness
The institution’s resources, structures, and processes are sufficient to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its educational offerings, and respond to future challenges and opportunities. The institution plans for the future.