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The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is one of seven regional accrediting bodies recognized by the Council of Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. Regional accreditors accredit entire institutions, not individual program, units, or locations. In addition to Maryland, Middle States accredits institutions in Delaware, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Accreditation is a process of peer review that the educational community has adopted for self-regulation since early in the 20th century. It is a voluntary process intended to strengthen and sustain the quality and integrity of higher education. Institutions choose to apply for accredited status, and once accredited, they agree to abide by the standards of their accrediting organization and to regulate themselves by taking responsibility for their own improvement.
Middle States accredits entire institutions, not discipline-specific programs. Each professional school at UMB is accredited by a specialty accrediting body. In some schools, accreditation also happens on the program level. For example, the Master of Public Health program is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health. Since Middle States accreditation is institutional, it does not make recommendations about discipline-specific course or curriculum content. Instead, accreditation concentrates on the 14 Middle States Standards of Accreditation.
Losing Middle States accreditation would devastate the individual programs at UMB. Unlike school-based accreditations, Middle States accreditation is the certification UMB needs to continue to receive federal funds for research and student financial aid. Accreditation also impacts how academic credits are transferred from UMB to other institutions.
Middle States will assess UMB’s compliance with the 14 Middle States standards, which are described in the Middle States publication “Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education.” Generally, the 14 standards fall into two broad categories: standards focusing on UMB’s institutional context (e.g. mission and goals, administration, planning, resource allocation, etc.) and standards focusing on UMB’s educational effectiveness (e.g. admissions, retention, educational offerings, student support services, assessment of student learning, etc.).
Middle States’ final decision to reaffirm an institution’s accreditation often includes suggestions, recommendations, or requirements. Suggestions are just that—suggestions. They do not require formal follow-up action with Middle States. Recommendations, however, may require follow-up action. Lastly, Middle States issues requirements if they find that an institution is not in compliance with its standards. If an institution fails to satisfy these requirements, Middle States can revoke its accreditation.
Yes. However, like discipline-specific accreditation, institutional accreditation follows a cycle of reaccreditation. Middle States accreditation operates on a 10-year cycle, and UMB’s last accreditation was in 2006. You can read the self-study report from the 2006 accreditation here.
UMB’s accreditation does not renew automatically: it is based on the University’s ability to demonstrate compliance with the 14 Middle States standards. If UMB fails to effectively demonstrate compliance, the institution could lose its accredited status.
The accreditation process can be broken down into two broad phases: institutional self-study and external evaluation.
During the self-study phase, the institution prepares its self-study report. This process includes demonstrating compliance with the 14 Middle States standards as well as answering research questions generated by the institution itself. After the report is written, it is presented to the university community for feedback. Once finalized, the report is submitted to Middle States.
Middle States then sends a team of external evaluators from peer institutions to visit the institution. This team will verify the claims made by the institution in its self-study report by reviewing documents and conducting interviews with members of the university community.
You can view the timeline for further details about specific steps in this process.
The Middle States accreditation process provides UMB the opportunity to conduct an extensive institutional self-study. The result of this process is a written self-study report. This report and the 14 Middle States Standards serve as the basis for an on-site evaluation by a team of peer evaluators.
During self-study, the institution carefully considers its educational programs and services, with particular attention to student learning and achievement, and determines how well these programs and services accomplish the institution’s goals, fulfill its mission, and meet the 14 Middle States Standards.