Institutional Effectiveness

Office of Institutional Effectiveness


Institutional Accreditation

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Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Basic Information about Institutional Accreditation

Western Michigan University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association since 1915.

What is accreditation?

"The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality." (U.S. Dept. of Ed.)

What is the Higher Learning Commission?

"The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is an independent corporation and one of two Commission members of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), which was founded in 1895 as one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. The Higher Learning Commission accredits, and thereby grants membership in the Commission and in the North Central Association, to degree-granting educational institutions in the 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."(HLC)

Pathways Accreditation Model

WMU: the Open Pathway

What is Pathways?

"Regional accreditation assures quality by verifying that an institution (1) meets threshold standards and (2) is engaged in continuous improvement. Both the Standard and Open Pathway feature: a ten-year cycle, a focus on both assurance and improvement, Assurance Reviews in Years 4 and 10, and the use of the HLC electronic Assurance System. All Commission Pathways require: annual filing of the Institutional Update, annual monitoring of financial and non-financial indicators, and adherence to Commission policies and practices on institutional change." (HLC)

What does it mean for WMU?

Change Request Information

Changes at WMU

What types of change require prior HLC approval?

  • Academic Program(s)
    • A new degree or credential level
    • Title IV eligible Certificate programs not related to existing degree programs
    • Programs that require allocation of substantial financial investment or resources, or any programs acquired from another institution
  • Expansion of Distance Education
  • Additional Locations
    • Establishment of a campus or an additional location
    • Acquisition of a campus or an additional location from another institution
    • Establishment of a course location at either an international location or at a location outside the institution’s home state
  • Contractual Arrangements
    • 25% or more of any educational program outsourced to a non-accredited other party
  • Consortial Arrangements
    • More than 50% the a program is provided by an accredited institution

Please note that all change request requirements are subject to change, with revisions usually occurring once per year. This information is paraphrased from HLC's Overview of Commission Policies and Procedures for Institutional Changes Requiring Commission Notification or Approval, which can be found by clicking here. The information provided is not comprehensive, but a quick reference list of change requests that are most applicable to WMU.

Change Request Guidelines and Regulations

  • Institutional Effectiveness acts as the gatekeeper for all change requests and should be consulted during the planning stages for any activity that may require HLC approval.
  • Consult Institutional Effectiveness to determine if a change request is required.
  • Institutional Effectiveness will provide assistance, as needed, in completing all necessary change application materials.
  • All change request materials must be reviewed by Institutional Effectiveness prior to submission.
  • All change requests must be submitted through Institutional Effectiveness.
  • No advertising about the program can occur until WMU receives final approval notification from HLC. This includes, but is not limited to:
    • Announcements (print or digital),
    • Recruiting or enrolling students, and
    • Changing or adding the information in the catalog.

Please click here to view the associated fees for submitting a change request.

Mark of Affiliation and Statement of Affiliation Status

Mark of Affiliation

Higher Learning Commission Mark of Affiliation

Statement of Affiliation Status

Click on the picture above to view WMU's current statement of affiliation status with the Higher Learning Commission. The statement of affiliation status is proof of WMU's accreditation and denotes the University's standing with HLC.


Office of Institutional Effectiveness
B-112 Henry Hall
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5253 USA
(269) 387-0399 | (269) 387-4377 Fax
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