What is accreditation?

Accreditation is the process by which an external agency examines a program, a curriculum, or an institution and determines whether it does or does not meet certain established standards. In the United States, institutions of higher education are accredited by a nongovernmental peer review process, and institutions participate voluntarily. Accreditation does not rank institutions or programs.

What is the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, MSCHE for short?

The MSCHE accredits institutions in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and several locations abroad.  The Council on Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education recognize MSCHE as one of several regional accreditation authorities.

The MSCHE assures students and the public of the educational quality of higher education. The Commission’s accreditation process ensures institutional accountability, self-appraisal, improvement, and innovation through peer review and the rigorous application of standards within the context of institutional mission.

How long is the accreditation cycle?

Colleges and universities in the MSCHE region are periodically reevaluated.  Until now, the most comprehensive reevaluation occurred approximately every 10 years after an institution’s initial accreditation.  However, MSCHE is currently reviewing its accreditation cycle and processes and comprehensive reevaluation cycles are likely to last for eight years in the future.

For every evaluation cycle, the institution prepares a written self-study report about itself.  This self-study report is based on the self-study design, which serves as a blueprint for the entire self-study process, including the final self-study report. It guides the efforts of the self-study steering committee and working groups as they engage in discussions, inquiry and report preparation. It also guides the institution as a whole as various constituencies provide input and offer feedback throughout the multi-stage process of self-analysis.


What is a self-study report?

Self-study is an intensive review of an institution’s educational programs and services, student learning, and achievement of its stated goals and mission, as measured against standards that have been developed by MSCHE. In order to demonstrate compliance with all seven MSCHE standards, Lafayette is required to produce a self-study report.

This self-study report and the Commission’s Standards for Accreditation and Requirements of Affiliation serve as the basis for on-site evaluation by a team of peer evaluators. During Self-Study, the institution carefully considers its educational programs, policies and services, with particular attention to student learning and achievement, and it determines how well these programs and services accomplish the institution’s goals, fulfill its mission, and meet the Commission’s Standards.

How can I participate?

  • Attend open meetings.
  • Participate in conversations.
  • Provide feedback on drafts.
  • Contact the Middle States self-study steering committee (M4SC) with thoughts, suggestions, and concerns by emailing middlestates@lafayette.edu.