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Author

Glynn Cosker

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American Public University System (APUS) is gearing up for a visit from the Higher Learning Commission whose evaluators will carry out a reaffirmation of accreditation process.

HLC is one of several regional accreditation agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). APUS has been accredited by HLC since 2006.

The accreditation process is designed to assure the public of the quality of an educational institution along with its commitment to high standards through a system of continuous improvement. Accreditation is also important to students because it determines a school’s eligibility for federal and state financial aid, and may affect acceptance of transfer credits and admission to accredited graduate schools.

“The visit offers us a way to demonstrate our focus on academic excellence while providing the best possible experience for our students,” stated Dr. Wade T. Dyke, President of APUS.

The Mission of American Public University System

“Our mission statement guides everything we do as an institution on behalf of our students,” Dr. Dyke added. According to its website – APUS’s mission is “to provide high quality higher education with emphasis on educating the nation’s military and public service communities by offering respected, relevant, accessible, affordable, and student-focused online programs that prepare students for service and leadership in a diverse, global society.”

HLC Criteria for Accreditation

A steering committee and teams of APUS faculty, staff, and students have all worked carefully over the past year preparing to submit an accreditation report to HLC along with evidence that demonstrates how the university meets each of the five HLC Criteria for Accreditation:

  1. Mission: The institution’s mission is clear and articulated publicly; it guides the institution’s operations.
  2. Integrity. Ethical and Responsible Conduct: The institution acts with integrity; its conduct is ethical and responsible.
  3. Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support: The institution provides quality education wherever and however its offerings are delivered.
  4. Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement: The institution demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs, learning environments, and support services, and it evaluates their effectiveness for student learning through processes designed to promote continuous improvement.
  5. Institutional Effectiveness, Resources and Planning: The institution’s resources, structures, and processes are sufficient to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its educational offerings, and respond to future challenges and opportunities.

Reaffirmation of Accreditation is a 10-Year Process

Reaffirmation from HLC is neither quick nor easy. It involves a 10-year cycle:

  • Years one to three comprise of the institution contributing documents to “Evidence File and begin writing its Assurance Argument for Year Four.”
  • Year Four sees the institution submit its comprehensive evaluation materials.
  • Years five to nine involve the preparation of the institution’s assurance filing whereby the school can contribute “Evidence File and begin writing Assurance Argument for Year 10’s comprehensive evaluation.
  • Finally, Year 10 features the Comprehensive Evaluation for Reaffirmation with peer review, comprehensive evaluation – including a site visit from HLC – and ultimately a decision from HLC regarding the institution’s reaffirmation of accreditation.

APUS is winding down year 10, and its review process will culminate in a site visit of peer evaluators from HLC on April 26 and 27. Following further review by an HLC panel, the process concludes with a vote on reaffirmation of accreditation.