The “Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education” are a set of seven standards with which UMB must demonstrate compliance to maintain accreditation with MSCHE. The standards focus on five guiding principles:

  1. Application of the Standards within the Context of an Institution's Mission and Goals 
  2. Centrality of the Student Experience
  3. Reflection on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 
  4. Emphasis on Data and Evidence-based Decision-making 
  5. Innovation as an Essential Part of Continuous Improvement

5 Guiding Principles 
These five principles guide the analysis in each of the seven standards because of their importance in higher education.

1. Mission-Centric:

The individual mission and goals of each institution remains the context within which our accreditation standards are applied. Our standards intentionally emphasize functions rather than specific structures in recognition of the many different models for educational and operational excellence.  

2. Centrality of the Student Experience:

The standards focus on the student learning experience. Institutions should design and provide student learning experiences aligned with mission, creating an appropriately supportive learning environment and understanding and improving student learning outcomes. An institution’s student learning programs and opportunities must be characterized by rigor, coherence, and appropriate assessment of student achievement throughout the educational offerings, and institutions must offer a curriculum that is designed so that students acquire and demonstrate essential skills including at least oral and written communication, scientific and quantitative reasoning, critical analysis and reasoning, technological competency, and information literacy (Standard III). Consistent with the institution’s mission, the general education program must also include the study of values, ethics, and diverse perspectives (Standard III).Institutions must commit to student retention, persistence, completion, and success through a coherent and effective support system sustained by qualified professionals, which enhances the quality of the learning environment, contributes to the educational experience, and fosters student success (Standard IV).

3. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: 

Throughout the seven standards, institutions should reflect deeply and share results on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the context of their mission by considering at a minimum: goals and actions (Standard I); demographics and policies or processes (Standard II and VII); curriculum and services (Standard III and IV); assessments (Standard V); and resource allocation (Standard VI). One goal of DEI reflection would be to address disparate impacts on an increasingly diverse student population if discovered. Throughout the standards, institutions define DEI and populations and follow best practices with attention to data integrity and security.

4. Data-Based Decision-Making: 

The standards reflect our commitment to data-based decision-making. Institutions must analyze a range of data, including disaggregated data, to ensure students are appropriately served and institutional mission and goals are met. Institutions should rely upon the data required by the Commission and additional data used by the institution. Institutions should follow the Commission’s evidence expectations that are reflective of a range of data considerations, consonant with higher education expectations, and consistent with the institution’s mission. Periodic and systematic evaluation and assessment allow institutions to demonstrate commitment to reflection, and our standards provide the opportunity to evaluate progress toward institutional goals. Institutions can leverage periodic assessment through each standard, using assessment results for continuous improvement and innovation to ensure levels of quality for constituents.

5. Innovation: 

Institutions are dynamic organizations that change and evolve for the benefit of their students and communities. The seven standards reflect our commitment to innovation and allow institutions to consider innovative practices in the context of mission and the students served.

    Mission and Goals: Standard I 

    The institution’s mission defines its purpose within the context of higher education, the students it serves, and what it intends to accomplish. The institution’s stated goals are clearly linked to its mission and specify how the institution fulfills its mission. 

    Ethics and Integrity: Standard II 

    Ethics and integrity are central, indispensable, and defining hallmarks of effective higher education institutions. In all activities, whether internal or external, an institution must be faithful to its mission, honor its contracts and commitments, adhere to its policies, and represent itself truthfully. 

    Design and Delivery of Student Learning Experience: Standard III 

    An institution provides students with learning experiences that are characterized by rigor and coherence at all program, certificate, and degree levels, regardless of instructional modality. All learning experiences, regardless of modality, program pace/schedule, level, and setting are consistent with higher education expectations. 

    Support of the Student Experience: Standard IV 

    Across all educational experiences, settings, levels, and instructional modalities, the institution recruits and admits students whose interests, abilities, experiences, and goals are congruent with its mission and educational offerings. The institution commits to student retention, persistence, completion, and success through a coherent and effective support system sustained by qualified professionals, which enhances the quality of the learning environment, contributes to the educational experience, and fosters student success. 

    Educational Effectiveness Assessment: Standard V 

    Assessment of student learning and achievement demonstrates that the institution’s students have accomplished educational goals consistent with their program of study, degree level, the institution’s mission, and appropriate expectations for institutions of higher education. 

    Planning, Resources, and Institutional Improvement: Standard VI 

    The institution’s planning processes, resources, and structures are aligned with each other and are sufficient to fulfill its mission and goals, to continuously assess and improve its programs and services, and to respond effectively to opportunities and challenges. 

    Governance, Leadership, and Administration: Standard VII 

    The institution is governed and administered in a manner that allows it to realize its stated mission and goals in a way that effectively benefits the institution, its students, and the other constituencies it serves. Even when supported by or affiliated with a related entity, the institution has education as its primary purpose, and it operates as an academic institution with appropriate autonomy.