Accreditation Frequently asked questions

What is the Higher Learning Commission?

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1895 located in Chicago, Illinois. HLC is one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. HLC accredits degree-granting postsecondary educational institutions in the North Central Region.

HLC's mission is "seeing the common good by assuring and advancing the quality of higher learning."


Accreditation

Institutional accreditation allows students to be eligible for federal and state financial aid. Students can expect to have their credits accepted in transfer and their degrees recognized as valid from an accredited institution.

  • Focus on student learning
  • Education as a public purpose
  • Education for a diverse, technological, globally connected world
  • A culture of continuous improvement
  • Evidence-based institutional learning and self-presentation
  • Integrity, transparency, and ethical behavior or practice
  • Governance for the well-being of the institution
  • Planning and management of resources to ensure institutional sustainability
  • Mission-centered evaluation
  • Accreditation through peer review.

The Provost serves as the Accreditation Liaison Officer to the Higher Learning Commission and leads the reaffirmation of accreditation and other HLC-related processes for Columbia College.

Every part of Columbia College is under the HLC accreditation umbrella.

Absolutely. In fact, there are additional requirements for online.

Regional Accreditation is the educational accreditation of schools, colleges and universities. To operate legally within another state, a college or university may need to seek state authorization in order to offer in-seat and/or distance education courses.

The college or university to which the student has applied determines transferability of credits and degrees. Generally, full credit is given for work completed with a C grade or higher received from a regionally accredited college or university, provided the courses are comparable to courses listed in the Columbia College catalog.

Comprehensive evaluation visit

An evaluation of an institution that results in a decision on the reaffirmation of accreditation. A peer review team from other private colleges will spend almost two days on campus interviewing faculty, staff, students and members of the board and community. Their purpose is to review the Assurance Argument and verify the evidence presented by Columbia College in the report.

An Assurance Argument is a required document for the accreditation process and is submitted via the Assurance System. This document is written by Columbia College providing evidence that the college meets the five areas for Criteria for Accreditation.

A Steering Committee comprised of appointed faculty, administrators, staff, students, alumni and board members will work to prepare the assurance argument and gather supporting evidence.

Students are the whole point of the visit. The chief aim of accreditation and its processes are to protect and enhance student learning experiences.

Yes, the peer review team is reviewing the entire college. However, the teaching and nursing programs are reviewed by their specific accreditation boards. The college is approved for teaching preparation by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The Associate of Science in Nursing program is approved by the Missouri State Board of Nursing and a candidate for accreditation by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. The Bachelor of Science (BSN) and RN to BSN (online) hold initial approval from the Missouri State Board of Nursing and is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

After comprehensive visit

The peer review team will send a preliminary report with recommendations to the President. The college will then have the opportunity to write a response to the report. Once the college has provided a response, the report is submitted to HLC for review by multiple committees before the college receives the final report. The college's Public Relations office will notify the Columbia College community of all accreditation action information.

The goal is for the team to recommend reaccreditation without conditions for the maximum period. Some follow-up actions may include one or more progress reports, monitoring reports and/or a focused visit.