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HLC’s Open Pathway & Criteria for Accreditation

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) offers two pathways to Reaffirmation of Accreditation: Standard and Open. Through the Open Pathway, Ohio University engages in a 10-year evaluation cycle to reaffirm compliance with HLC requirements and pursue institutional improvement. Since 2019, after HLC sunsetted the AQIP Pathway, Ohio University has been on the Open Pathway. It is through these Open Pathway milestones that HLC expects Ohio University to produce evidence that it is meeting the Criteria for Accreditation.

Previous AQIP Pathway
Institutional Update
Assurance ReviewBlankBlankBlank
Quality InitiativeBlankBlank<BlankBlank
Multilocation VisitBlankBlankBlank
Comprehensive EvaluationBlankBlankBlank
Current Open Pathway
Institutional Update
Assurance ReviewBlankBlankBlankBlankBlankBlank
Quality InitiativeBlankBlank
Multilocation VisitBlankBlankBlankBlank
Comprehensive EvaluationBlankBlankBlankBlankBlank

At any point, institutions may undergo additional reviews as needed related to: Substantive Change applications, routine or special monitoring, or notice/sanction. 

HLC Accreditation Criteria

The Criteria for Accreditation are the standards of quality by which HLC determines whether an institution merits accreditation or reaffirmation of accreditation. There are five Criteria for Accreditation and eighteen Core Components. An institution must meet all Criterion Core Components to meet each Criterion.

Criterion 1: Mission 

Ohio University’s mission is clear and articulated publicly; it guides the institution’s operations.

Learn More about Criterion 1

1.A. Ohio University’s mission is articulated publicly and operationalized throughout the institution.

  1. Ohio University’s mission was developed through a process suited to the context of Ohio University.
  2. Ohio University’s mission and related statements are current and reference the Ohio University’s emphasis on the various aspects of its mission, such as instruction, scholarship, research, application of research, creative works, clinical service, public service, economic development and religious or cultural purpose.
  3. Ohio University’s mission and related statements identify the nature, scope and intended constituents of the higher education offerings and services Ohio University provides.
  4. Ohio University’s academic offerings, student support services and enrollment profile are consistent with its stated mission.
  5. Ohio University clearly articulates its mission through public information, such as statements of purpose, vision, values, goals, plans or institutional priorities.

1.B. Ohio University’s mission demonstrates commitment to the public good.

  1. Ohio University’s actions and decisions demonstrate that its educational role is to serve the public, not solely the institution or any superordinate entity.
  2. Ohio University’s educational responsibilities take primacy over other purposes, such as generating financial returns for investors, contributing to a related or parent organization, or supporting external interests.
  3. Ohio University engages with its external constituencies and responds to their needs as its mission and capacity allow.

1.C. Ohio University provides opportunities for civic engagement in a diverse, multicultural society and globally connected world, as appropriate within its mission and for the constituencies it serves.

  1. Ohio University encourages curricular or cocurricular activities that prepare students for informed citizenship and workplace success.
  2. Ohio University’s processes and activities demonstrate inclusive and equitable treatment of diverse populations.
  3. Ohio University fosters a climate of respect among all students, faculty, staff and administrators from a range of diverse backgrounds, ideas and perspectives.

Criterion 2: Integrity — Ethical and Responsible Conduct 

Ohio University acts with integrity; its conduct is ethical and responsible.

Learn More about Criterion 2

2.A. Ohio University establishes and follows policies and processes to ensure fair and ethical behavior on the part of its governing board, administration, faculty and staff.

  1. Ohio University develops and the governing board adopts the mission.
  2. Ohio University operates with integrity in its financial, academic, human resources and auxiliary functions.

2.B. Ohio University presents itself clearly and completely to its students and to the public.

  1. Ohio University ensures the accuracy of any representations it makes regarding academic offerings, requirements, faculty and staff, costs to students, governance structure and accreditation relationships.
  2. Ohio University ensures evidence is available to support any claims it makes regarding its contributions to the educational experience through research, community engagement, experiential learning, religious or spiritual purpose and economic development.

2.C. Ohio University’s Board of Trustees is autonomous to make decisions in the best interest of the institution in compliance with board policies and to ensure the institution’s integrity.

  1. The Board of Trustees is trained and knowledgeable so that it makes informed decisions with respect to the institution’s financial and academic policies and practices; the board meets its legal and fiduciary responsibilities.
  2. The Board of Trustees’ deliberations reflect priorities to preserve and enhance the institution.
  3. The Board of Trustees reviews the reasonable and relevant interests of the institution’s internal and external constituencies during its decision-making deliberations.
  4. The Board of Trustees preserves its independence from undue influence on the part of donors, elected officials, ownership interests or other external parties.
  5. The Board of Trustees delegates day-to-day management of the institution to the institution’s administration and expects the institution’s faculty to oversee academic matters.

2.D. Ohio University is committed to academic freedom and freedom of expression in the pursuit of truth in teaching and learning.

There are no subcomponents to Core Component 2.D.

2.E. Ohio University’s policies and procedures call for responsible acquisition, discovery and application of knowledge by its faculty, staff and students.

  1. Ohio University, supporting basic and applied research, maintain professional standards and provide oversight ensuring regulatory compliance, ethical behavior and fiscal accountability.
  2. Ohio University provides effective support services to ensure the integrity of research and scholarly practice conducted by its faculty, staff and students.
  3. Ohio University provides students guidance in the ethics of research and use of information resources.
  4. Ohio University enforces policies on academic honesty and integrity.

Criterion 3: Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support

Ohio University provides quality education, wherever and however its offerings are delivered.

Learn more about Criterion 3

3.A. The rigor of the Ohio University’s academic offerings is appropriate to higher education.

  1. Courses and programs are current and require levels of student performance appropriate to the credential awarded.
  2. Ohio University articulates and differentiates learning goals for its undergraduate, graduate, post-baccalaureate, post-graduate and certificate programs.
  3. Ohio University’s program quality and learning goals are consistent across all modes of delivery and all locations (on the main campus, at additional locations, by distance delivery, as dual credit, through contractual or consortial arrangements, or any other modality).

3.B. Ohio University offers programs that engage students in collecting, analyzing and communicating information; in mastering modes of intellectual inquiry or creative work; and in developing skills adaptable to changing environments.

  1. The general education program is appropriate to the mission, educational offerings and degree levels of Ohio University. Ohio University articulates the purposes, content and intended learning outcomes of its undergraduate general education requirements.
  2. The program of general education is grounded in a philosophy or framework developed by Ohio University or adopted from an established framework. It imparts broad knowledge and intellectual concepts to students and develops skills and attitudes that the institution believes every college-educated person should possess.
  3. The education offered by the Ohio University recognizes the human and cultural diversity and provides students with growth opportunities and lifelong skills to live and work in a multicultural world.
  4. The faculty and students contribute to scholarship, creative work and the discovery of knowledge to the extent appropriate to their offerings and Ohio University’s mission.

3.C. Ohio University has the faculty and staff needed for effective, high-quality programs and student services.

  1. Ohio University strives to ensure that the overall composition of its faculty and staff reflects human diversity as appropriate within its mission and for the constituencies it serves.
  2. Ohio University has sufficient numbers and continuity of faculty members to carry out both the classroom and the non-classroom roles of faculty, including oversight of the curriculum and expectations for student performance, assessment of student learning, and establishment of academic credentials for instructional staff.
  3. All instructors are appropriately qualified, including those in dual credit, contractual and consortial offerings.
  4. Instructors are evaluated regularly in accordance with established institutional policies and procedures.
  5. Ohio University has processes and resources for assuring that instructors are current in their disciplines and adept in their teaching roles; it supports their professional development.
  6. Instructors are accessible for student inquiry.
  7. Staff members providing student support services, such as tutoring, financial aid advising, academic advising and cocurricular activities, are appropriately qualified, trained and supported in their professional development.

3.D. Ohio University provides support for student learning and resources for effective teaching.

  1. Ohio University provides student support services suited to the needs of its student populations.
  2. Ohio University provides for learning support and preparatory instruction to address the academic needs of its students. It has a process for directing entering students to courses and programs for which the students are adequately prepared.
  3. Ohio University provides academic advising suited to its offerings and the needs of its students.
  4. Ohio University provides to students and instructors the infrastructure and resources necessary to support effective teaching and learning (technological infrastructure, scientific laboratories, libraries, performance spaces, clinical practice sites and museum collections, as appropriate to the institution’s offerings).

Criterion 4: Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement 

Ohio University 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.

Learn more about Criterion 4

4.A. Ohio University ensures the quality of its educational offerings.

  1. Ohio University maintains a practice of regular program reviews and acts upon the findings.
  2. Ohio University evaluates all the credit that it transcripts, including what it awards for experiential learning or other forms of prior learning, or relies on the evaluation of responsible third parties.
  3. Ohio University has policies that ensure the quality of the credit it accepts in transfer.
  4. Ohio University maintains and exercises authority over the prerequisites for courses, rigor of courses, expectations for student learning, access to learning resources, and faculty qualifications for all its programs, including dual credit programs. It ensures that its dual credit courses or programs for high school students are equivalent in learning outcomes and levels of achievement to its higher education curriculum.
  5. Ohio University maintains specialized accreditation for its programs as appropriate to its educational purposes.
  6. Ohio University evaluates the success of its graduates. The institution ensures that the credentials it represents as preparation for advanced study or employment accomplish these purposes. For all programs, the institution looks to indicators it deems appropriate to its mission.

4.B. Ohio University engages in ongoing assessment of student learning as part of its commitment to the educational outcomes of its students

  1. Ohio University has effective processes for assessment of student learning and for achievement of learning goals in academic and cocurricular offerings.
  2. Ohio University uses the information gained from assessment to improve student learning.
  3. Ohio University’s processes and methodologies to assess student learning reflect good practice, including the substantial participation of faculty, instructional and other relevant staff members.

4.C. Ohio University pursues educational improvement through goals and strategies that improve retention, persistence and completion rates in its degree and certificate programs.

  1. Ohio University has defined goals for student retention, persistence and completion that are ambitious, attainable and appropriate to its mission, student populations and educational offerings.
  2. Ohio University collects and analyzes information on student retention, persistence and completion of its programs.
  3. Ohio University uses information on student retention, persistence and completion of programs to make improvements as warranted by the data.
  4. Ohio University’s processes and methodologies for collecting and analyzing information on student retention, persistence and completion of programs reflect good practice. (Institutions are not required to use IPEDS definitions in their determination of persistence or completion rates. Institutions are encouraged to choose measures that are suitable to their student populations, but institutions are accountable for the validity of their measures.)

Criterion 5: Institutional Effectiveness, Resources, and Planning

Ohio University’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.

Learn more about Criterion 5

5.A. Through its administrative structures and collaborative processes, Ohio University’s leadership demonstrates that it is effective and enables the institution to fulfill its mission.

  1. Shared governance at Ohio University engages its internal constituencies—including its Board of Trustees, administration, faculty, staff and students—through planning, policies and procedures.
  2. Ohio University’s administration uses data to reach informed decisions in the best interests of the institution and its constituents.
  3. Ohio University’s administration ensures that faculty and, when appropriate, staff and students are involved in setting academic requirements, policy and processes through effective collaborative structures.

5.B. Ohio University’s resource base supports its educational offerings and its plans for maintaining and strengthening their quality in the future.

  1. Ohio University has qualified and trained operational staff and infrastructure sufficient to support its operations wherever and however programs are delivered.
  2. The goals incorporated into the mission and any related statements are realistic in light of the Ohio University’s organization, resources and opportunities.
  3. Ohio University has a well-developed process in place for budgeting and for monitoring its finances.
  4. Ohio University’s fiscal allocations ensure that its educational purposes are achieved.

5.C. Ohio University engages in systematic and integrated planning and improvement.

  1. Ohio University allocates its resources in alignment with its mission and priorities, including, as applicable, its comprehensive research enterprise, associated institutes and affiliated centers.
  2. Ohio University links its processes for assessment of student learning, evaluation of operations, planning and budgeting.
  3. The planning process encompasses Ohio University as a whole and considers the perspectives of internal and external constituent groups.
  4. Ohio University plans on the basis of a sound understanding of its current capacity, including fluctuations in the institution’s sources of revenue and enrollment.
  5. Ohio University’s planning anticipates evolving external factors, such as technology advancements, demographic shifts, globalization, the economy and state support.
  6. Ohio University implements its plans to systematically improve its operations and student outcomes.