Accreditation Review Components

St. Olaf maintains its accreditation by demonstrating that it meets the Higher Learning Commission’s Criteria for Accreditation through the following review processes, occurring over a 10-year cycle:

A Comprehensive Evaluation is conducted once every ten years, which includes:

  • An assurance filing, in which the college prepares an “assurance argument” and evidence file “assuring” the HLC that it meets each of the 69 standards embedded in the five criteria for accreditation;
  • A federal compliance filing, in which the college demonstrates that it meets applicable federal regulations and requirements for higher education institutions;
  • A campus visit from a team of higher education peer reviewers selected by HLC, to gather information supplementing their initial analysis of the written assurance materials;
  • A student opinion survey conducted by the Higher Learning Commission approximately two months prior to the peer reviewers’ campus visit, which engages students in the evaluation process and helps the peer reviewers develop questions to ask during their visit;
  • A peer review team report, provided both to HLC and to the college, indicating the team’s determination as to whether the college continues to meet the Criteria for Accreditation;
  • A written institutional response to the peer review team report.

An Assurance Review is conducted in the fourth year after the comprehensive evaluation, which includes:

  • An updated assurance filing, with evidence and documentation “assuring” the HLC that the college meets the five criteria for accreditation;
  • A team report from a team of peer reviewers, provided both to HLC and to the college, indicating the team’s determination as to whether the college continues to meet the Criteria for Accreditation;
  • A written institutional response to the team report.

A Quality Initiative is developed and implemented any time between the fifth and ninth years after the comprehensive evaluation, which includes:

  • An improvement project addressing one or more areas of the college’s operations or performance. The project can be a self-contained effort that begins and ends during this four-year time frame, or it can be one phase of a longer-term project.
  • A quality initiative report reflecting on the project’s implementation, accomplishments, challenges, and implications for the future;
  • A team report from a team of peer reviewers, provided both to HLC and to the college, evaluating the institution’s improvement effort;
  • A written institutional response to the team report.

An Institutional Update is submitted annually, with current data on college enrollments, employees, programs, and finances.

St. Olaf’s most recent comprehensive review occurred in 2012-13, culminating in HLC’s action to continue the college’s accreditation effective July 1, 2013. Its most recent fourth-year Assurance Review was completed in Fall 2016, and once again concluded with HLC affirming the college’s continuing accreditation.  The next review in the college’s accreditation schedule is a comprehensive review in 2022-23.  The following academic year, beginning September 1, 2023, will constitute Year 1 in a new 10-year cycle.