- What is accreditation?
- What is MSCHE?
- What is reaccreditation?
- What is a self-study report?
- Do institutions ever lose accreditation?
Accreditation is the process by which an external agency examines a program, a curriculum, or an institution and determines whether it does or does not meet certain established standards. In the United States, institutions of higher education are accredited by a nongovernmental peer review process, and institutions participate voluntarily. Accreditation does not rank institutions or programs.
MSCHE is a shorthand reference for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The Council on Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education recognize MSCHE as one of several regional accreditation authorities. MSCHE accredits institutions in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and several locations abroad.
Colleges and universities in the MSCHE region normally have been reevaluated every five years, but commission staff members also monitor each institution to determine if special circumstances require more frequent evaluations. The most comprehensive reevaluation has occurred approximately every 10 years after an institution’s initial accreditation. This comprehensive reaccreditation is based upon a report that the institution prepares about itself, called a self-study report.
Self-study is an intensive review of a university’s educational programs and services, student learning, and achievement of its stated goals and mission, as measured against standards that have been developed by MSCHE. In order to demonstrate compliance with all seven MSCHE standards, Rutgers is required to produce a self-study report.
Following a review, it is common for the MSCHE review team to make recommendations for improvements to universities. This impartial external peer feedback provides the university with an opportunity to enhance its programs and strengthen its mission. Normally, a university is given a reasonable time frame to address the recommendations. A more detailed explanation of potential steps that may be taken by MSCHE can be found in their policy on Accreditation Actions.