Since 1913, the University of Chicago has been continuously accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

Higher Learning Commission Mark of Affiliation

What is accreditation?

Accreditation is the process by which a degree-granting institution of higher education is deemed of sufficient quality to be eligible to receive federal funds for student financial aid and faculty research grants.

How is an institution accredited?

The United States Department of Education recognizes six regional accreditation agencies. The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accredits colleges and universities located in the 19-state region that includes Illinois. The HLC employs a set of standards to evaluate many facets of an institution, including its academic offerings, governance and administration, mission, finances, and other resources, to validate the quality of the institution as a whole.

The accreditation process is based on a system of peer review. Approximately 1,300 educators from institutions of higher education are trained in the HLC’s standards and serve as peer reviewers for other institutions. The HLC sends a team of peer reviewers to a campus to evaluate whether that institution meets the criteria for accreditation. The team then makes recommendations to the HLC’s decision-making bodies.

How often does the University host a team of peer reviewers from the HLC?

For a healthy institution, such a large-scale visit, known as a “comprehensive evaluation,” occurs every ten years. The University’s most recent comprehensive evaluation was in 2005–2006. The University is currently engaged in the 2015–2016 reaffirmation of accreditation process.

What does this visit involve?

The accreditation visit requires that a team of peer reviewers examine an institution’s policies, procedures, studies, reports, and other documents—primarily produced since the last visit—as well as what the Commission calls “assurance arguments,” texts the institution has prepared to address the Commission’s five criteria for accreditation. While there are many components and sub-components to be addressed, the criteria broadly encompass:

The above links to these assurance arguments are available to members of the University of Chicago community with a CNet ID.

In addition to reviewing the extensive written materials, an eight-person team of college and university faculty and administrators will visit our campus. The site visit is scheduled for Monday, 5 October and the morning of Tuesday, 6 October.

How can members of the University of Chicago community get involved with the accreditation process?

The reviewers come to campus to clarify and confirm what they have read. They accomplish this via discussions with faculty, students, staff, and University leadership to understand their perspectives and by observing and experiencing the campus itself.

Engagement by members of the University community is welcomed, and there will be several open forums scheduled to discuss the five reaccreditation criteria above. In addition, team members will offer “drop in” sessions that are open to anyone and any topic related to the university.

Open Forums Schedule
Criteria #1 and #2 Discussion

Monday, October 5
3:30–4:30 p.m.
Regenstein 122A

Criteria #3 and #4 Discussion

Tuesday, October 6
8:15–9:15 a.m.
Regenstein 122A

Criteria #5 and Discussion of Institutional Priorities

Tuesday, October 6
8:15–9:15 a.m.
Regenstein A11

Drop-in Sessions Schedule
Tuesday, October 6

8:15–9:15 a.m.

Regenstein 122B

9:30–10:30 a.m.

Regenstein 122A and 122B

10:30–11:15 a.m.

Regenstein 122A and 122B

When will the HLC arrive at a decision?

The visiting team is expected to submit to the Commission its report and recommendations shortly after their visit to campus. Upon further review by a council of the Commission, the Commission will likely notify the University in the winter of 2016 about its accreditation decision.