Middle States Commission on Higher Education


Policies, Guidelines & Procedures

These policies and procedures address the responsibilities of the Commission and its member institutions. It includes general accreditation policies, as well as those that refer specifically to the peer review process, the programs and services offered by member institutions, and administrative procedures of the Commission.

Taken together, Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education, the Commission’s basic handbooks, manuals, and other publications, and these policies provide a comprehensive set of documents describing all aspects of the Commission’s accreditation protocol and related activities.

All of the policies and procedures are either elaborations of the standards for accreditation set forth in Characteristics of Excellence, or they describe procedural requirements for institutions and for the Commission. Guidelines are based on best practices and provide advice to members for implementing the accreditation standards.


I: General Accreditation Policies, Guidelines, and Procedures


Good Practice for Accrediting in Higher Education (PDF)


Institutional Responsibilities in the Accreditation Process (PDF)


Principles for Good Practices: Regional Accrediting Commissions (Word)


Substantive Change Policy Statement (PDF)

Substantive Change Procedures (PDF)

Substantive Change Request for New Additional Location or Branch Campus, Reclassification of an Existing Site, or Relocation of an Existing Additional Location or Branch Campus (Word)


Substantive Change Request for Closing an Additional Location or Branch Campus (Word)


Substantive Change Request Form for Institutional Closure or Institutional Status Requiring a Teach-Out Plan (PDF)


Substantive Change Request Form for Alternative Delivery Method (Distance Education, Correspondence Education) (Word)


Substantive Change Request Form for New Degree/Credential Level (Word)


Substantive Change - Competency-based Education/Direct Assessment Screening Form (PDF)


Substantive Change - Complex Substantive Change Request Instructions for Approval of Direct Assessment Programs (100% Direct Assessment Based) (PDF)

Separately Accreditable Institutions  (Word)


The Accreditation Liaison Officer (ALO): Role and Responsibilities (PDF)


Dues & Fees: Effective July 1, 2015 (Word)


MSCHE Services Provided for a Fee (Word)


Credit Hour Policy (PDF)


Degree and Credit Guidelines (PDF)


II: The Peer Review Process


Cycle and Timing of Accreditation Review (PDF)


Follow-up Reports and Visits (PDF)


Electronic Submission of Materials and Reports (PDF)


Accreditation Actions (formerly Range of Commission Actions on Accreditation) (PDF)

Guidelines for Determining Recommendations, Requirements, and Proposed Commission Actions: Decennial Evaluations and Periodic Review Reports  (PDF)


Standardized Language for Commission Actions on Accreditation
and Examples of Options for Follow-up 


Institutional Evaluator from the Commission Accompanying a Specialized Accrediting Agency's Team (Word)


Selection of Peer Evaluators (PDF)


Evaluation Team Associates (Word)


Substantive Change Visits to Branch Campuses and Additional Locations (Word)

Conflict of Interest: Peer Evaluators and Commissioners (PDF)

Advance Notice of Non-Compliance Recommendations (PDF)


III: Institutional Programs and Services


Transfer Credit, Prior Learning, and Articulation (PDF)


Contracts by Accredited and Candidate Institutions for Education-related Services (PDF)


Related Entities (Word)
Formerly "Institutions with Related Entities"


Athletic Programs (Word)


Merging or Closing a Postsecondary Institution or Program Site (PDF)



IV: Public and Government Relationships and Communication


Public Communication in the Accrediting Process (PDF)


Advertising, Student Recruitment, and Representation of Accredited Status (PDF)


Government Agencies and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (Word)


Political Intervention in Education (Word)


Notification of Accreditation Decisions (PDF)


Commission Reporting to the U.S. Department of Education (PDF)



V: International Programs


International Programs Offered by Accredited Institutions (Word)


Institutions Located Outside the United States (PDF)


International Travel by Commission Staff and Volunteers (Word)



VI: Commission Administrative Procedures


Review of Commission Standards, Policies, and Procedures (PDF)


Conflict of Interest: Commission Employees (Word)


Committee Meeting Guidelines (PDF)


Travel Expenses (PDF)


Maintenance and Retention of Commission Records (PDF)

Records Retention Schedule (PDF)

Discovery Requests and Litigation Expense (PDF)

Fielding Inquiries from the Media (Word)

Consideration of Actions Taken by Regional, National, and Specialized Accrediting Associations (PDF)

Calculation of Next Accreditation Action (PDF)

World Wide Web Policy (PDF)

VII: Complaints, Comments, and Appeals


Complaints Involving Member and Candidate Institutions (PDF)


Third-party Comment (PDF)


Complaints Against the Commission (PDF)


Appeals from Adverse Accrediting Actions (PDF)

Show Cause Appearance Before the Commission Prior to Withdrawal of Accreditation (PDF)