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Educational Program And Its Effectiveness
Standard 2.A - General Requirements
The institution offers collegiate level programs that
culminate in identified student competencies and lead to degrees or certificates
in recognized fields of study. The achievement and maintenance of high
quality programs is the primary responsibility of an accredited institution;
hence, the evaluation of educational programs and their continuous improvement
is an ongoing responsibility. As conditions and needs change, the institution
continually redefines for itself the elements that result in educational
programs of high quality.
2.A.1 The institution demonstrates its commitment to high
standards of teaching and learning by providing sufficient human, physical,
and financial resources to support its educational programs and to facilitate
student achievement of program objectives whenever and however they are
2.A.2 The goals of the institution's educational programs,
whenever and however offered, including instructional policies, methods,
and delivery systems, are compatible with the institution's mission. They
are developed, approved, and periodically evaluated under established institutional
policies and procedures through a clearly defined process.
2.A.3 Degree and certificate programs demonstrate a coherent
design; are characterized by appropriate breadth, depth, sequencing of
courses, synthesis of learning, and the assessment of learning outcomes;
and require the use of library and other information sources.
2.A.4 The institution uses degree designators consistent
with program content. In each field of study or technical program, degree
objectives are clearly defined: the content to be covered, the intellectual
skills, the creative capabilities, and the methods of inquiry to be acquired;
and, if applicable, the specific career-preparation competencies to be
2.A.5 The institution provides evidence that students
enrolled in programs offered in concentrated or abbreviated timeframes
demonstrate mastery of program goals and course objectives.
2.A.6 The institution is able to equate its learning experiences
with semester or quarter credit hours using practices common to institutions
of higher education, to justify the lengths of its programs in comparison
to similar programs found in regionally accredited institutions of higher
education, and to justify any program-specific tuition in terms of program
costs, program length, and program objectives.
2.A.7 Responsibility for design, approval, and implementation
of the curriculum is vested in designated institutional bodies with clearly
established channels of communication and control. The faculty has a major
role and responsibility in the design, integrity, and implementation of
2.A.8 Faculty, in partnership with library and information
resources personnel, ensure that the use of library and information resources
is integrated into the learning process.
2.A.9 The institution's curriculum (programs and courses)
is planned both for optimal learning and accessible scheduling.
2.A.10 Credit for prior experiential learning is awarded
only in accordance with Policy 2.3 - Credit for Prior Experiential Learning,
2.A.11 Policies, regulations, and procedures for additions
and deletions of courses or programs are systematically and periodically
2.A.12 In the event of program elimination or significant
change in requirements, institutional policy requires appropriate arrangements
to be made for enrolled students to complete their program in a timely
manner and with a minimum of disruption.
Standard 2.B - Educational Program Planning and Assessment
Educational program planning is based on regular and
continuous assessment of programs in light of the needs of the disciplines,
the fields or occupations for which programs prepare students, and other
constituencies of the institution.
2.B.1 The institution's processes for assessing its educational
programs are clearly defined, encompass all of its offerings, are conducted
on a regular basis, and are integrated into the overall planning and evaluation
plan. These processes are consistent with the institution's assessment
plan as required by Policy 2.2 - Educational Assessment, pages 36-38.
While key constituents are involved in the process, the faculty have a
central role in planning and evaluating the educational programs.
2.B.2 The institution identifies and publishes the expected
learning outcomes for each of its degree and certificate programs. Through
regular and systematic assessment, it demonstrates that students who complete
their programs, no matter where or how they are offered, have achieved
2.B.3 The institution provides evidence that its assessment
activities lead to the improvement of teaching and learning.
Standard 2.C - Undergraduate Program
The undergraduate program is designed to provide students
with a substantial, coherent, and articulated exposure to the broad domains
The Commission encourages a tripartite structure for
baccalaureate and academic or transfer associate degree programs: (1) general
education requires students to master competencies for independent learning
and to develop an awareness of the fundamental areas of knowledge; (2)
the major requires students to achieve a knowledge base in a specific area
of concentration; and (3) electives provide the opportunity for students
to pursue other intellectual interests.
The instructional program, as a whole, is based on
a clear rationale with the component parts designed to reflect that rationale.
Degree and certificate programs are characterized by clarity and order
which are discernible in model curricula shown in official publications
and are recorded in official student records of actual programs pursued.
Baccalaureate and academic or transfer associate degree
programs include a substantial core of general education instruction with
identifiable outcomes and require competence in (a) written and oral communication,
(b) quantitative reasoning, (c) critical analysis and logical thinking,
and (d) literacy in the discourse or technology appropriate to the program
Associate degree programs are designed to prepare students
for careers in vocational and technical fields, and for transfer to a senior
institution. Accordingly, the educational requirements for these degrees
must be carefully determined in order to fulfill their respective purposes.
Programs of study for which applied or specialized
associate degrees are granted, or programs of an academic year or more
in length for which certificates are granted, contain a recognizable body
of instruction in three program-related areas: (1) communication, (2) computation,
and (3) human relations described in Policy 2.1 - General Education/Related
Instruction Requirements, pages 35-36.
2.C.1 The institution requires of all its degree and pre-baccalaureate
programs a component of general education and/or related instruction that
is published in its general catalog in clear and complete terms.
2.C.2 The general education component of the institution's
degree programs is based on a rationale that is clearly articulated and
is published in clear and complete terms in the catalog. It provides the
criteria by which the relevance of each course to the general education
component is evaluated.
2.C.3 The general education program offerings include
the humanities and fine arts, the natural sciences, mathematics, and the
social sciences. The program may also include courses that focus on the
interrelationships between these major fields of study.
2.C.4 The institution's policies for the transfer and
acceptance of credit are clearly articulated. In accepting transfer credits
to fulfill degree requirements, the institution ensures that the credits
accepted are comparable to its own courses. Where patterns of transfer
from other institutions are established, efforts to formulate articulation
agreements are demonstrated.
2.C.5 The institution designs and maintains effective
academic advising programs to meet student needs for information and advice,
and adequately informs and prepares faculty and other personnel responsible
for the advising function.
2.C.6 Whenever developmental or remedial work is required
for admission to the institution or any of its programs, clear policies
govern the procedures that are followed, including such matters as ability
to benefit, permissible student load, and granting of credit. When such
courses are granted credit, students are informed of the institution's
policy of whether or not the credits apply toward a degree. (See Glossary,
Ability to Benefit, page 143.)
2.C.7 The institution's faculty is adequate for the educational
levels offered, including full-time faculty representing each field in
which it offers major work.
Standard 2.D - Graduate Program
A graduate program is a set of advanced academic experiences
beyond the baccalaureate level which must be satisfactorily completed to
warrant the award of a graduate degree such as a master's or doctorate.
Graduate degree programs may generally be classified
into two categories: those that prepare students mainly as scholars and
researchers and those that prepare students for a profession. The objective
of a research-oriented graduate degree program is to develop scholars --
that is, students with skills necessary to discover or acquire, organize,
and disseminate new knowledge. The objective of the professional graduate
degree is to develop in students their competence in interpreting, organizing,
and communicating knowledge and to develop the analytical and performance
skills needed for the conduct and advancement of professional practice.
2.D.1 The level and nature of graduate-degree programs
are consistent with the mission and goals of the institution.
2.D.2 Programs of study at the graduate level are guided
by well-defined and appropriate educational objectives and differ from
undergraduate programs in requiring greater depth of study and increased
demands on student intellectual or creative capacities.
2.D.3 When offering the doctoral degree, the institution
ensures that the level of expectations, curricula, and resources made available
are significantly greater than those provided for master's and baccalaureate
Standard 2.E - Graduate Faculty and Related Resources
Essential to graduate education are the recruitment
and retention of a faculty that excels in scholarship, teaching, and research.
To provide an acceptable level of instruction for the graduate student,
faculty whose responsibilities include a major commitment to graduate education
are involved in keeping pace with, and advancing the frontiers of, knowledge.
Successful graduate programs demand a substantial institutional
commitment of resources for faculty, space, equipment, laboratories, library,
and information resources.
2.E.1 The institution provides evidence that it makes
available for graduate programs the required resources for faculty, facilities,
equipment, laboratories, library and information resources wherever the
graduate programs are offered and however delivered.
2.E.2 The institution demonstrates a continuing commitment
of resources to initiate graduate programs and to ensure that the graduate
programs maintain pace with the expansion of knowledge and technology.
2.E.3 Institutions offering graduate degrees have appropriate
full-time faculty in areas appropriate to the degree offered and whose
main activity lies with the institution. Such faculty are related by training
and research to the disciplines in which they teach and supervise research.
2.E.4 Faculty are adequate in number and sufficiently
diversified within disciplines so as to provide effective teaching, advising,
scholarly and/or creative activity, as well as to participate appropriately
in curriculum development, policy development, evaluation, institutional
planning, and development. Small graduate programs ordinarily require the
participation of several full-time faculty whose responsibilities include
a major commitment to graduate education.
2.E.5 In the delivery of off-campus programs, full-time
faculty whose responsibilities include a major commitment to graduate education
provide physical presence and participation in the planning, delivery,
and assessment of the programs.
2.E.6 The institution that offers the doctoral degree
has a core of full-time faculty active in graduate education at its main
campus and at each off-campus location where doctoral programs are offered.
Standard 2.F - Graduate Records and Academic Credit
Graduate admission and retention policies ensure that
student qualifications and expectations are compatible with institutional
mission and goals. Graduate program faculty are involved in specifying
admission criteria, transfer of graduate credit, and graduation requirements.
2.F.1 Graduate program admission policies and regulations
are consistent with and supportive of the character of the graduate programs
offered by the institution. These policies and regulations are published
and made available to prospective and enrolled students.
2.F.2 Admission to all graduate programs is based on information
submitted with the formal application such as undergraduate and graduate
transcripts, official reports on nationally recognized tests, and evaluations
by professionals in the field or other faculty-controlled evaluation procedures.
2.F.3 Faculty teaching in graduate programs are involved
in establishing both general admission criteria for graduate study as well
as admission criteria to specific graduate programs.
2.F.4 Graduation requirements for advanced degrees offered
by the institution are determined by the faculty teaching in the applicable
graduate programs. At minimum, the policies governing these graduation
the specified time period in which the degree must be completed;
the number of credit hours that must be completed at the
degree-granting institution, normally at least two-thirds of those required
for the degree;
the minimum number of graduate-level credits, normally at
least 50% of those required for the degree;
for the master's degree, a minimum of one academic year of
full-time study or its equivalent, with a minimum of 24 semester or 36
the number of graded credit hours that must be earned for
the minimum standard of performance or acceptable grade point
average, normally a B or its equivalent;
the types of qualifying and exit examinations which the candidate
the proficiency requirements the candidate must satisfy;
2.F.5 Transfer of graduate credit is evaluated by faculty
based on policies established by faculty whose responsibilities include
a major commitment to graduate education, or by a representative body of
such faculty who are responsible for the degree program at the receiving
institution. The amount of transfer credit granted may be limited by the
age of the credit, the institution from which the transfer is made, and
the appropriateness of the credit earned to the degree being sought.
the thesis, dissertation, writing, or research requirement
which the candidate must satisfy.
2.F.6 Graduate credit may be granted for internships,
field experiences, and clinical practices that are an integral part of
the graduate degree program. Consistent with Policy 2.3 - Credit for
Prior Experiential Learning, page 39, credit may not be granted for
experiential learning which occurred prior to the student's matriculation
into the graduate degree program. Unless the graduate student's faculty
advisor structures the current learning experience and monitors and assesses
the learning and its outcomes, no graduate credit is granted.
Standard 2.G - Continuing Education and Special Learning Activities
The changing nature of the demands placed upon individuals
in today's society requires many of them to engage in life-long education.
Many postsecondary educational institutions have incorporated into their
mission an extension and public service component to provide for life-long
learning opportunities. These opportunities are referred to as continuing
education, professional development, extension education, outreach, special
programs, public and community service programs. Such programs may be for
either undergraduate or graduate credit, or non-credit, may be offered
on and off campus, and may be offered through a variety of instructional
The provisions of this standard apply to:
Off-campus programs and courses for credit, including
those at branch campuses, extension centers or satellite sites, external
degree programs, and military base programs.
Distance learning courses and courses taught exclusively
on or off campus by special delivery systems, such as computer-based instruction,
correspondence, television, video or audio cassette, or through other electronically-accessed
Practices providing credit for prior experiential learning.
Travel/study and study abroad programs.
Non-credit community service programs and courses, including
those that offer Continuing Education Units (CEU).
Relicensure courses, in-service, and credential programs.
Testing, evaluation, and examination procedures for granting
Off-Campus and Other Special Programs Providing Academic
Workshops, seminars, short courses, conferences, institutes,
special evening and summer programs.
Continuing education and special learning activities,
programs, and courses offered for credit are consistent with the educational
mission and goals of the institution. Such activities are integral parts
of the institution and maintain the same academic standards as regularly
offered programs and courses. The institution maintains direct and sole
responsibility for the academic quality of all aspects of all programs
and courses through the management and supervision by faculty and institutional
administrators. Adequate resources to maintain high quality programs are
2.G.1 The institution provides evidence that all off-campus,
continuing education (credit and non-credit), and other special programs
are compatible with the institution's mission and goals, and are designed,
approved, administered, and periodically evaluated under established institutional
2.G.2 The institution is solely responsible for the academic
and fiscal elements of all instructional programs it offers. The institution
conforms to Policy A-6 - Contractual Relationships with Organizations
Not Regionally Accredited, pages 107-110.
2.G.3 Full-time faculty representing the appropriate disciplines
and fields of work are involved in the planning and evaluation of the institution's
continuing education and special learning activities.
2.G.4 The responsibility for the administration of continuing
education and special learning activities is clearly defined and an integral
organizational component of the institution's organization.
2.G.5 Programs and courses offered through electronically-mediated
or other distance delivery systems provide ready access to appropriate
learning resources and provide sufficient time and opportunities (electronic
or others) for students to interact with faculty.
2.G.6 There is an equitable fee structure and refund policy.
2.G.7 The granting of credit for continuing education
courses and special learning activities is based upon institutional policy,
consistent throughout the institution, and applied wherever located and
however delivered. The standard of one quarter hour of credit for 30 hours
or one semester hour of credit for 45 hours of student involvement is maintained
for all instructional programs and courses.
2.G.8 Continuing education and/or special learning activities,
programs, or courses offered for academic credit are approved in advance
by the appropriate institutional body and monitored through established
2.G.9 Credit for prior experiential learning is offered
only at the undergraduate level and in accordance with Policy 2.3 - Credit
for Prior Experiential Learning, page 39.
2.G.10 An institution offering an external degree, degree-completion
program, or special degree has clearly articulated policies and procedures
concerning admission to the program, transfer of prior-earned credit, credit
by examination (e.g., College Level Examination Program (CLEP) of the College
Entrance Examination Board and the institution's own examinations), credit
for prior experiential learning, credit by evaluation, and residency requirements.
2.G.11 When credit is measured by outcomes alone or other
nontraditional means, student learning and achievement are demonstrated
to be at least comparable in breadth, depth, and quality to the results
of traditional instructional practices.
2.G.12 Travel/study courses meet the same academic standards,
award similar credit, and are subject to the same institutional control
as other courses and programs offered by the sponsoring or participating
institution. Credit is not awarded for travel alone. The operation of these
programs is consistent with Policy 2.4 - Study Abroad Programs,
page 40 and Policy A-6 - Contractual Relationships with Organizations
Not Regionally Accredited, pages 107-110.
Standard 2.H - Non-credit Programs and Courses
Non-credit programs and courses, including those that
award Continuing Education Units (CEU), are consistent with the mission
and goals of the institution. These offerings are characterized by high
quality instruction with qualified instructors.
2.H.1 Non-credit programs and courses are administered
under appropriate institutional policies, regulations, and procedures.
Faculty are involved, as appropriate, in planning and evaluating non-credit
2.H.2 The institution maintains records for audit purposes
which describe the nature, level, and quantity of service provided through
2.H.3 When offering courses that award Continuing Education
Units (CEU), the institution follows national guidelines for awarding and
recording such units which call for one CEU being equivalent to 10 hours
of instruction and appropriate to the objectives of the course. See Glossary,
Continuing Education Unit, page 145, and Policy A-9 - Non-credit, Extension,
and Continuing Education Studies, pages 116-117.
2.1 Policy on General Education/Related Instruction Requirements
Background. The Commission endorses the concept
of general education and, as described below, requires of all undergraduate
programs a substantial and coherent program of general education or a program
of related instruction. By design, the policy is intended to be qualitative
rather than quantitative in nature. No formula for specific application
or particular pattern of general education is endorsed. However, every
institution is expected to publish in its general catalog a clear and complete
statement of its requirements for general education and/or related instruction,
A substantial core of general education instruction is
regarded as an essential component of all baccalaureate degree programs
and of all academic or transfer associate degree programs. Similarly, a
core of related instruction is regarded as a necessary integral part of
all applied or specialized associate degree programs and of all certificate
programs of an academic year or more in length. General education in degree
programs shall be of collegiate level. The contents of general education,
and of related instruction in applied or specialized degree and certificate
programs, should be comparable, though not necessarily identical, to traditional
academic offerings and should be taught by faculty who are clearly appropriately
qualified. In some cases, institutions may provide for general education
through admission or graduation requirements. Institutions are encouraged
to include broad general education instruction as part of non-degree specialized
programs in addition to directly utilitarian-related instruction.
General Education. General education introduces
students to the content and methodology of the major areas of knowledge
- the humanities, the fine arts, the natural sciences, and the social sciences
- and helps them develop the mental skills that will make them more effective
learners. General education may, of course, be taught in different ways,
and an institution must judge whether its students are better served by
curricula or requirements that approach the disciplines through content
and methodology, or that approach the disciplines by concentrating on outcomes.
The rationale and plan for the general education requirements should be
cooperatively developed by the faculty, administrative staff, and trustees,
and the expected outcomes should be stated in relation to the institution's
mission and goals.
Related Instruction. Programs of study for which
applied or specialized associate degrees are granted, or programs of an
academic year or more in length for which certificates are granted, must
contain a recognizable body of instruction in program-related areas of
1) communication, 2) computation, and 3) human relations. Additional topics
which should be covered as appropriate include safety, industrial safety,
and environmental awareness. Instruction in the related instructional areas
may be either embedded within the program curriculum or taught in blocks
of specialized instruction. Each approach, however, must have clearly identified
content that is pertinent to the general program of study.
2.2 Policy on Educational Assessment
The Commission on Colleges expects each institution and
program to adopt an assessment plan responsive to its mission and its needs.
In so doing, the Commission urges the necessity of a continuing process
of academic planning, the carrying out of those plans, the assessment of
the outcomes, and the influencing of the planning process by the assessment
Background. As noted in Standard Two, implicit
in the mission statement of every postsecondary institution is the education
of students. Consequently, each institution has an obligation to plan carefully
its courses of instruction to respond to student needs, to evaluate the
effectiveness of that educational program in terms of the change it brings
about in students, and to make improvements in the program dictated by
the evaluative process. Assessment of educational quality has always been
at the heart of the accreditation process. In earlier times, this assessment
tended to focus more upon process measures and structural features; hence,
there was considerable emphasis placed upon resources available to enhance
students' educational experiences such as the range and variety of graduate
degrees held by members of the faculty, the number of books in the library,
the quality of specialized laboratory equipment, and the like. More recently,
while still stressing the need to assess the quantity and quality of the
whole educational experience, the communities of interest served by the
accreditation enterprise have come to appreciate the validity and usefulness
of using output evaluations and assessment as well as input measures.
Nearly every postsecondary institution accredited by the
Commission on Colleges engages in some type of outcomes assessment. Some
are more formalized than others; some more quantified; some less so; some
well- developed and long-utilized, and some of more recent origin and implementation.
The intent of Commission policy is to stress outcomes assessment as an
essential part of the ongoing institutional self-study and accreditation
processes, to underline the necessity for each institution to formulate
a plan which provides for a series of outcomes measures that are internally
consistent and in accord with its mission and structure, and, finally,
to provide some examples of a variety of successful plans for assessing
Central to the outcomes analyses or assessments are judgments
about the effects of the educational program upon students. These judgments
can be made in a variety of ways and can be based upon a variety of data
sources. The more data sources that contribute to the overall judgment,
the more reliable that judgment would seem to be. There follows a list
of several outcomes measures which, when used in appropriate combinations
and informed by the institutional mission, could yield an efficacious program
of outcomes assessment. This list is intended to be illustrative and exemplary
as opposed to prescriptive and exhaustive.
a. Student Information.
From what sources does the institution acquire its students?
What percentage directly from high school? Community college transfers?
Transfers from other institutions? What blend of gender, age group, and
ethnicity has the institution attracted over time? Retained over time?
Graduated over time? What is the mean measured aptitude, over time, of
entering students? What are the local grade distribution trends? What changes
have appeared over time?
b. Mid-Program Assessments.
If the institution has some kind of required writing course
or an emphasis on writing across the curriculum, what evidence is there
that students are better writers after having been exposed to the course
or curriculum? How are these judgments rendered? If student writing improves,
do students appear to retain this newly acquired proficiency? If so, why,
and if not, why not? What changes are planned as a result of the assessment
A required course, program, or sequence in mathematics
can be assessed in a similar fashion. What evidence is there that the skills
improved or declined as a result of the program? How are these judgments
rendered? Does the improvement appear permanent or transitory? How has
the program been changed as a result of the assessment program?
A required course, program, or sequence in any subject
matter can be addressed in a similar fashion, as can nearly any part of
the program in general education or the program as a whole.
c. End of Program Assessment.
What percentage of those students who enter an institution
graduate? Is the percentage increasing or decreasing? Why? What is the
mean number of years in which students graduate? Is that mean increasing
or decreasing? Why? What are the criteria for these judgments? What is
the several-year retention pattern from one class to the next, such as
freshman to sophomore? If patterns reflect significant losses between one
level and another, what are the reasons? Similar questions may be asked
by gender and/or ethnic background. If the institution or program requires
a capstone experience at the end of the curriculum, are present students
performing better or worse than their predecessors? What are the reasons?
What are the bases for the judgments? (e.g. "The cumulative judgment of
the faculty is that the quality of the senior theses in art has improved
during the past five years. This judgment is based upon the following evidence
. . ." or "The Psychology Department requires the advanced test on the
Graduate Record Examination of all graduates. These scores have declined
by an average of 2% each year for the past five years. The faculty is of
the opinion that the reasons for this decline are . . ..")
d. Program Review and Specialized Accreditation.
Some institutions require periodic program review of each
academic program, either through an institutionally approved internal process
and/or through seeking and achieving specialized accreditation, or by utilizing
external experts. Either or both of these activities can provide a wealth
of outcomes assessment data, particularly if the methodology remains somewhat
standardized over time.
e. Alumni Satisfaction and Loyalty.
A number of institutions engage in a variety of alumni
surveys which elicit, over time, the judgments of alumni of the efficacy
of their educational experience in a program or at an institution. Use
of such a mechanism can assist an institution in understanding whether
alumni satisfaction with various aspects of the educational program, particularly
those facets which the institution stresses, appears to be growing or diminishing
over time. If satisfaction is increasing, why? If decreasing, why? What
are the bases for the judgments? What curricular implications do these
What methods has the institution utilized to determine
the reasons why students drop out or otherwise do not complete a program
once they have enrolled in it? What is the attrition rate over the past
five years? Is it increasing or decreasing? What are the reasons? What
programs or efforts does the institution engage to enhance student retention?
Which tactics have proved to be efficacious?
g. Employment and/or Employer Satisfaction Measures.
One relatively straightforward outcomes measure used by
some institutions concerns that number and/or percentage of former students
who have sought and found employment. Are they happy with what they have
found? Do they think the program prepared them well for their chosen occupations?
If trained in a particular area, teacher education, for example, have they
found a teaching position?
Other institutions have found qualitative comments of
frequent employers to be particularly helpful in assessing educational
outcomes. Do the employers regularly recruit program graduates? Why or
why not? How well do program graduates perform in comparison with graduates
from other similar programs? Are there areas of the curriculum in which
program graduates are particularly well prepared? Which areas? Why is preparation
judged to be particularly good? Where are the weaknesses? Why? What is
being done to provide remedial activity?
2.3 Policy on Credit for Prior Experiential Learning
The Commission on Colleges recognizes the validity of
granting credit for prior experiential learning, provided the practice
is carefully monitored and documented. Credit for prior experiential learning
may be offered under the conditions enumerated below. This policy is not
designed to apply to such practices as CLEP, Advanced Placement, or ACE-evaluated
a. Policies and procedures for awarding experiential learning
credit must be adopted, described in appropriate institutional publications,
and reviewed at regular intervals.
b. Credit for prior experiential learning may be granted
only at the undergraduate level.
c. Before credit for prior experiential learning becomes
part of the student's permanent record, the student must complete a sufficient
number of units to establish evidence of a satisfactory learning pattern.
d. Credit may be granted only upon the recommendation
of teaching faculty who are appropriately qualified and who are on a regular
appointment with the college on a continuing basis.
e. Credit may be granted only for documented learning
which ties the prior experience to the theories and data of the relevant
f. Credit may be granted only for documented learning
which falls within the regular curricular offerings of the institution.
g. An institution that uses documentation and interviews
in lieu of examinations must demonstrate in its self-study that the documentation
provides the academic assurances of equivalence to credit earned by traditional
h. Credit for prior experiential learning may constitute
no more than 25% of the credits needed for a degree or certificate.
i. No assurances are made as to the number of credits
to be awarded prior to the completion of the institution's review process.
j. Credit may be granted only to enrolled students and
is to be identified on the student's transcript as credit for prior experiential
k. Policies and procedures must ensure that credit for
prior experiential learning does not duplicate other credit awarded.
l. Adequate precautions must be provided to ensure that
payment of fees does not influence the award of credit.
2.4 Policy on Study Abroad Programs
Background. Study abroad can be an important phase
of undergraduate and graduate programs in American colleges and universities.
Carefully planned and administered, foreign study may add significant dimensions
to a student's educational experience. As guidelines for institutions which
conduct programs of foreign study or whose students participate in such
programs, the Commission on Colleges urges that a study abroad program
a. be clearly related to the mission and goals of the
sponsoring or participating institution;
b. have a well-defined rationale stating the specific
nature and purposes of the program, and be accurately represented in the
institution's catalog and all promotional literature;
c. provide educational experiences related to the institution's
d. be available to students carefully selected according
to ability and interest;
e. have a carefully articulated policy regarding the availability
of financial assistance to students for programs required by the institution;
f. have clearly specified language proficiency requirements
when appropriate to the program and place of study, and clearly defined
methods of testing proficiency prior to acceptance into the program;
g. provide extensive information to intended participants,
honestly and specifically describing the program's opportunities and limitations,
indicating how and where instruction will be given and the relationship
to the foreign institution, describing grading practices, identifying especially
significant differences between a home campus experience and what can be
expected abroad, including information about local living conditions and
the extent of responsibility assumed by the program for housing participants;
h. provide extensive orientation for participants prior
to departure for, and on arrival in, the foreign country with respect to
the matters in item g above, augmented with more detailed information and
instruction related to the specific program;
i. have a resident director carefully selected on the
basis of professional competence and interest, appointed for a minimum
of two years with provision for overlapping replacement appointments to
allow for transition, and assured of the same professional rights, privileges,
and consideration as colleagues on the home campus, with due respect for
the responsibilities of the overseas assignment;
j. provide counseling and supervisory services at the
foreign center, with special attention to problems peculiar to the location
and nature of the program;
k. guarantee adequate basic reference materials to offset
any limitations of local libraries or inaccessibility to them;
l. include clearly defined criteria and policies for judging
performance and assigning credit in accordance with prevailing standards
and practices at the home institution; where several institutions are involved
with a single overseas institution or in a consortium, a common basis for
determining grade equivalents is essential;
m. stipulate that students will ordinarily not receive
credit for foreign study undertaken without prior planning or approval
on the students' home campuses;
n. include provisions for regular follow-up studies on
the individual and institutional benefits derived from such programs; and
o. ensure fair reimbursement to participants if the program
is not delivered as promised for reasons within the sponsor's control.
Cooperative arrangements are urged among American institutions
seeking to provide foreign study opportunities for their students. In many
cases, resident directors, faculty, and facilities could be shared, resulting
in significant improvement in the efficiency and economy of the operation.
One basic reference collection, for example, supported and used by students
from several programs is likely to be more satisfactory than several separate
Travel programs per sé or commercially sponsored
"study-travel programs" should be thoroughly investigated by an institution
before granting degree credit for these activities. The regional accrediting
commissions do not evaluate these activities as foreign study programs
of member institutions, nor will they evaluate independent foreign study
programs which are not related to the curricula of specific colleges or
universities in the United States.
2.5 Policy on Transfer and Award of Academic Credit
Background. This statement is directed to institutions
of postsecondary education and others concerned with the transfer of academic
credit among institutions and award of academic credit for extra-institutional
learning. Basic to this statement is the principle that each institution
is responsible for determining its own policies and practices with regard
to the transfer and award of credit. Institutions are urged to review their
policies and practices periodically to ensure that they accomplish the
institution's goals and that they function in a manner that is fair and
equitable to students. Any statements, this one or others referred to,
should be used as guides, not as substitutes, for institutional policies
Transfer of credit is a concept that now involves transfer
between dissimilar institutions and curricula and recognition of extra-institutional
learning, as well as transfer between institutions and curricula of similar
characteristics. As their personal circumstances and educational objectives
change, students seek to have their learning, wherever and however attained,
recognized by institutions where they enroll for further study. It is important
for reasons of social equity and educational effectiveness, as well as
for the wise use of resources, for all institutions to develop reasonable
and definitive policies and procedures for acceptance of transfer of credit.
Such policies and procedures should provide maximum consideration for the
individual student who has changed institutions or objectives. It is the
receiving institution's responsibility to provide reasonable and definitive
policies and procedures for determining a student's knowledge in required
subject areas. All institutions have a responsibility to furnish transcripts
and other documents necessary for a receiving institution to judge the
quality and quantity of the work. Institutions also have the responsibility
to advise the students that the work reflected on the transcript may or
may not be accepted by a receiving institution.
Interinstitutional Transfer of Credit. Transfer
of credit from one institution to another involves at least three considerations:
1. The educational quality of the institution from which
the student transfers.
2. The comparability of the nature, content, and level
of credit earned to that offered by the receiving institution.
3. The appropriateness and applicability of the credit
earned to the programs offered by the receiving institution, in light of
the student's educational goals.
Accredited Institutions. Accreditation speaks primarily
to the first of these considerations, serving as the basic indicator that
an institution meets certain minimum standards. Users of accreditation
are urged to give careful attention to the accreditation conferred by accrediting
bodies recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
CHEA has a formal process of recognition which requires that any accrediting
body so recognized must meet the same standards. Under these standards
CHEA has recognized a number of accrediting bodies, including:
1. Regional accrediting commissions which accredit total
2. Certain national accrediting bodies that accredit various
kinds of specialized institutions.
3. Certain specialized organizations that accredit free-standing
professional schools, in addition to programs within multi-purpose institutions.
(CHEA annually publishes a list of recognized accrediting
bodies, as well as a directory of institutions accredited by these organizations.
This publication, Accredited Institutions of Postsecondary Education,
Programs and Candidates, may be ordered from The Oryx Press, 4041 North
Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85012-3397, (800) 279-6799 or (602) 265-2651).
Although accrediting agencies vary in the ways they are
organized and in their statements of scope and mission, all accrediting
bodies that meet CHEA's standards for recognition function to ensure that
the institutions or programs they accredit have met generally accepted
minimum standards for accreditation.
Accreditation affords reason for confidence in an institution's
or a program's purposes, in the appropriateness of its resources and plans
for carrying out these purposes, and in its effectiveness in accomplishing
its goals, insofar as these things can be judged. Accreditation speaks
to the probability but does not guarantee that students have met acceptable
standards of educational accomplishment.
Comparability and Applicability. Comparability
of the nature, content, and level of transfer credit and the appropriateness
and applicability of the credit earned in programs offered by the receiving
institution are as important in the evaluation process as the accreditation
status of the institution at which the transfer credit was awarded. Since
accreditation does not address these questions, this information must be
obtained from catalogs and other materials and from direct contact between
knowledgeable and experienced faculty and staff at both the receiving and
sending institutions. When such considerations as comparability and appropriateness
of credit are satisfied, however, the receiving institution should have
reasonable confidence that students from accredited institutions are qualified
to undertake the receiving institution's educational program.
Admissions and Degree Purposes. At some institutions
there may be differences between the acceptance of credit for admission
purposes and the applicability of credit for degree purposes. A receiving
institution may accept previous work, place a credit value on it, and enter
it on the transcript. However, that previous work, because of its nature
and not its inherent quality, may be determined to have no applicability
to a specific degree to be pursued by the student.
Institutions have a responsibility to make this distinction
and its implications clear to students before they decide to enroll. This
should be a matter of full disclosure, with the best interests of the student
in mind. Institutions also should make every reasonable effort to reduce
the gap between credits accepted and credits applied toward an educational
Unaccredited Institutions. Institutions of postsecondary
education that are not accredited by CHEA-recognized accrediting bodies
may lack that status for reasons unrelated to questions of quality. Such
institutions, however, cannot provide a reliable, third-party assurance
that they meet or exceed minimum standards. That being the case, students
transferring from such institutions may encounter special problems in gaining
admission and in transferring credits to accredited institutions. Institutions
admitting students from unaccredited institutions should take special steps
to validate credits previously earned.
Foreign Institutions. In most cases, foreign institutions
are chartered and authorized by their national governments, usually through
a ministry of education. Although this provides for a standardization within
a country, it does not produce useful information about comparability from
one country to another. No other nation has a system comparable to voluntary
accreditation. Several organizations often can assist institutions by providing
information or guidelines on admission and course placement of foreign
students: 1) Council on International Education Exchange, 2) Council on
Evaluation of Foreign Credentials, 3) National Liaison Committee on Foreign
Student Admissions, and 4) National Association of Foreign Student Affairs
(NAFSA). Equivalency or placement recommendations are to be evaluated in
terms of programs and policies of the individual receiving institution.(2)
Validation of Extra-Institutional and Experiential
Learning for Transfer Purposes. Transfer-of-credit policies should
encompass educational accomplishment attained in extra-institutional settings
as well as at accredited postsecondary institutions. In deciding on the
award of credit of extra-institutional learning, institutions will find
the services of the American Council on Education's Office of Educational
Credit helpful. One of the Office's functions is to operate and foster
programs to determine credit equivalencies for various modes of extra-institutional
learning. The Office maintains evaluation programs for formally structured
courses offered by the military, and civilian noncollegiate sponsors such
as business, corporations, government agencies, and labor unions. Evaluation
services are also available for examination programs for occupations with
validated job proficiency evaluation systems, and for correspondence courses
offered by schools accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council.
The results are published in a Guide series. Another resource is the General
Education Development (GED) Testing Program, which provides a means for
assessing high school equivalency.
For learning that has not been validated through the ACE
formal credit recommendation process or through credit-by-examination programs,
institutions are urged to explore the Council for Adult and Experiential
Learning (CAEL) procedures and processes. Pertinent CAEL publications designed
for this purpose are available. (See Policy 2.3 - Credit for Prior Experiential
Learning, page 39.)
Uses of this Statement. This statement has been
endorsed by the national associations most concerned with practices in
the area of transfer and award of credit - the American Association of
Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, the American Council on
Education/Commission on Educational Credit, and the Council for Higher
Institutions are encouraged to use this statement as a
basis for discussions in developing or reviewing institutional policies
with regard to transfer. If the statement reflects an institution's policies,
that institution might want to use this publication to inform faculty,
staff, and students.
2.6 Policy on Distance Delivery of Courses, Certificate, and Degree
Introduction. This policy is intended to apply to the broadest
possible definition of distance delivery of instruction, including telecommunications
technologies -- audio, video, and computer-based technologies -- used for
instruction in either live or stored modes. The degree program and credit
courses may or may not be delivered exclusively via telecommunications;
for example, the course may include a print component and a degree program
may include an on-campus requirement.
These requirements are the product of a Western Cooperative for Educational
Telecommunications project, Balancing Quality and Access: Reducing State
Policy Barriers to Electronically Delivered Higher Education Programs.
The three-year project, supported by the U. S. Department of Education's
Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, was designed to foster
an interstate environment that permits the electronic provision of quality
higher education programs across state lines. The requirements were developed
by a group representing the Western states' higher education regulating
agencies, higher education institutions, and the regional accrediting community.
The existence of these requirements for instruction via telecommunications
does not relieve an accredited institution of the obligation to meet the
eligibility requirements, standards, and policies of the Commission on
Colleges. The institution's programs with specialized accreditation meet
the same requirements when offered through distance delivery. Applicable
institutional accreditation standards and the Commission's substantive
change policy apply regardless of when, where, or how instruction takes
place, or by whom taught.
Application of Requirements. These requirements are to be addressed
in the periodic review -- self-study and peer evaluation -- conducted for
reaffirmation of accreditation by every accredited institution that engages
in distance delivery through telecommunications. For the institution that
proposes to initiate distance learning through telecommunications, these
requirements will form the framework for a substantive change review by
the Commission on Colleges.
Approval and Purpose
a. The institution's distance delivery programs have a
clearly defined purpose congruent with institutional mission and purposes.
b. Each program has been approved through established
institutional program approval mechanisms.
Curriculum Courses and Programs
c. Each course provides timely instructional interaction
between faculty and students, and whenever possible, among students.
d. Each course includes clearly-defined learning outcomes.
e. Each program of study results in learning outcomes
appropriate to the rigor and breadth of the degree or certificate awarded.
f. Program integrity is maintained. An electronically
delivered degree or certificate program is coherent and comprehensive.
g. Qualified faculty provide appropriate oversight for
all distance delivery of education, ensuring both the rigor of those courses
and programs and the quality of instruction.
h. The institution provides for assessment of individual
student achievement in each course, and at completion of requirements,
for a certificate or a degree.
i. Training is provided for faculty who teach via electronic
j. The institution has faculty support services specifically
related to teaching via electronic delivery.
Students and Student Services
k. Advertising, recruiting, and admissions materials clearly
and accurately represent the program(s) and services available.
l. The institution admits to its distance delivery programs
students who meet the institutional admission requirements and who also
are prepared by background, knowledge, and technical skills to succeed
in the distance delivery environment.
m. Enrolled students have reasonable and adequate access
to the range of student services appropriate to support their learning.
n. Sufficient learning resources are made available to
support student learning in distance delivery programs.
Commitment to Support
o. The institution offering the program demonstrates a
commitment to ongoing support, both financial and technical, and to continuation
of the program for a period sufficient to enable enrolled students to complete
the degree or certificate.
Evaluation and Assessment
p. The institution conducts assessment of the characteristics
of student capability to succeed in the distance delivery environment.
This information is applied to admission decisions.
q. The institution offering the program evaluates the
program's educational effectiveness. The evaluation includes assessments
of student learning outcomes, student retention, and student and faculty
satisfaction. The demonstrated assessment of student learning outcomes
will be comparable to outcomes of student learning in more traditional
r. All distance learning courses and programs are incorporated
into the institution's program of documenting student academic achievement.
Supporting Documentation for Standard Two
General Requirements and Undergraduate Program
1. Instruments and procedures used to measure educational
2. Inventory of documents that demonstrate the appraisal
of educational program outcomes. The documents are to be available on campus
for examination by the evaluation committee. Examples may include:
3. Inventory of degree programs that have been added or deleted
in the last five years.
annual goals and assessment of success in their accomplishment;
studies of alumni and former students;
studies regarding effectiveness of programs and their graduates;
test comparisons that reveal beginning and ending competencies;
surveys of student satisfaction.
4. Number of degrees granted in each program for the last
5. Published statements or other written rationale for
the general education program.
1. Statement of degree objectives for each degree program.
2 Description of curriculum development bodies and advisory
groups, with rules of procedure and recent minutes.
3. Complete departmental or program self-studies prepared
for part of this self-study.
4. Evaluation forms and summary reports of student evaluations
of faculty and courses.
5. Self-study and evaluation committee reports from external
reviews and the most recent professional accreditation visits and documentation
of resulting actions.
6. Criteria and procedures for admission and retention
of students, maintenance of student records, and awarding of credit, including
credit for prior experiential learning.
7. Policies regarding transfer of credit, including articulation
agreements with other institutions.
8. Policies regarding remedial work.
9. Description of the materials and forms used in the
academic advisement process.
10. Grade distribution studies.
11. Policies governing public service.
1. Compilation of entering freshman student ability measures.
2. Samples of course examinations and other instruments
used to assess student achievement or competency and, when possible, available
work products determined to be of different levels of quality.
3. Funds devoted to research, if applicable, for each
of the past three years; principal sources of such funds.
1. Copy of the Graduate Catalog.
2. The information specified below is to be summarized
separately, or, if it is contained in the Graduate Catalog, identified
by page number(s):
3. Inventory of documents or studies that demonstrate the
assessment of outcomes for graduate programs. Examples on file for review
by the evaluation committee may include:
all graduate degrees offered;
general graduate admissions requirements for master's degrees
including the use of standardized tests, and special requirements
by schools, departments, or degree programs if substantially different;
general graduate admissions requirements for doctoral degrees
including the use of standardized tests, and special requirements
by schools, departments, or degree programs if substantially different;
general graduation requirements for advanced degrees and
special requirements by schools, departments, or degree programs if substantially
graduate faculty by schools or program.
studies of graduates or former students;
studies that indicate the degree of success with graduates
obtaining employment in fields relevant to their graduate education;
surveys of student satisfaction;
review of internal program;
surveys of employer satisfaction; and
results of national ranking data.
1. Policy on the acceptance of graduate credit, including
2. Policy on the granting of credit for internships, field
experience, or clinical practice.
Continuing Education and Special Learning Activities
1. Organizational charts which show the relationship of
continuing education to various academic units of the institution, including
the internal organization of the continuing education unit.
2. Summary listing of off-campus programs, directors,
sites, and enrollments.
3. Policy and procedures for institutional approval of
off-campus and special programs and courses.
1. Catalogs, brochures, announcements, and class schedules
for special programs.
2. Policies regarding the award of credit based on prior
experiential learning, including the distribution of credits, by term,
for the past two years.
3. Policies that address all elements of 2.A.10 regarding
award of credit.
4. List of all courses and programs taught by nontraditional
instructional formats for the past three years, indicating the course,
type and duration of instruction, number of credits, enrollment, and location.
5. Budgetary information and financial arrangements relating
to continuing education and special learning activities.
6. Studies demonstrating comparability of outcomes for
courses or programs offered under concentrated or accelerated time frames,
or other nontraditional instructional formats.
7. Policies regarding admission, transfer of prior earned
credit, credit by examination (e.g. College Level Examination Program [CLEP]),
credit for prior experiential learning, credit by evaluation and residency
requirements as they apply to external degrees, degree-completion programs,
or special degrees.
8. Sample transcript with explanation of codes showing
designations for credit for prior experiential learning and non-degree
9. Contractual agreements with other institutions or travel
10. Criteria and procedures for admission of students
and awarding of credit; procedures for maintenance of student records.
11. Catalogs, brochures, and announcements for continuing
education courses and programs, and special learning activities.
12. Criteria and procedures for registration of students
and awarding of units; procedures for keeping student records.