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Northwestern’s Accreditation Renewed Through 2024-25

Higher Learning Commission reaffirms University’s educational quality, continuing progress

  • Northwestern has been accredited by the commission since 1913
  • University last reaffirmed for accreditation by the commission in 2005
  • Accreditation helps ensure educational quality and regulatory compliance
  • Affirms Northwestern’s eligibility to participate in federal student aid programs

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Institutional Actions Council of the Higher Learning Commission took final action this summer to renew the accreditation of Northwestern University -- reaffirming the University’s educational quality and continuing progress for another decade.

Northwestern has been accredited by the commission since 1913 and was last reaffirmed for accreditation by the commission in 2005.

At its meeting July 27, the council confirmed that Northwestern’s next reaffirmation of accreditation will be in 2024-25. 

The Higher Learning Commission is one of six accrediting agencies that provide institutional accreditation on a regional basis. Institutional accreditation helps to ensure educational quality and regulatory compliance across American colleges and universities.

Furthermore, accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission establishes Northwestern’s eligibility to participate in federal student aid programs.

As a participant in the commission’s Open Pathways pilot reaccreditation process, the University has been engaged in improvement and quality-assurance related projects over the last several years as part of this recent review, which culminated in a campus visit by a team of peer reviewers April 27 and 28.

“Accreditation is an important process for helping the University to reflect on the progress we have made since the last review and to identify areas that could use further improvement,” said Northwestern Provost Daniel Linzer. “Preparing for a reaccreditation review takes significant effort from the University community. Northwestern’s successful outcome was achieved though the outstanding team efforts of a wide range of faculty, staff, students, trustees and friends of the University.”

Northwestern prepared and submitted a variety of documentation to the commission to demonstrate how the University meets the commission’s requirements. Numerous members of the campus community from across all 12 schools and over a wide range of administrative areas assisted in the development of reaccreditation materials and participated in the campus visit. The University’s Assessment/Accreditation Council, which is comprised of faculty, staff and students, served as an advising body throughout the reaccreditation process.

As part of the Open Pathways ongoing accreditation process, the University will engage in several activities with the Higher Learning Commission during the upcoming 10-year cycle, including:

  • Submitting annual institutional updates.
  • In the first year, providing interim reports to demonstrate the University’s ongoing commitment to student learning outcomes assessment, specifically in the areas of undergraduate majors and general education, and to clarify Northwestern’s credit-hour policy.
  • In the fourth year, preparing an updated “Assurance Argument” articulating how Northwestern meets the accreditation criteria.
  • In years five through nine, proposing and completing a “Quality Initiative,” or improvement project, that suits the University’s present challenges or aspirations.
  • In year 10, undergoing a comprehensive evaluation, including an assurance review, a review of federal compliance and an on-site visit.

For more information about this process, please direct questions to Jake Julia, associate vice president and associate provost for academic initiatives, or Jenny Puchtel, manager of the accreditation process.

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