Module One – Introduction to MSCHE and Accreditation

Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) is an institutional accreditor recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE) that serves as an independent voice in higher education. MSCHE establishes equitable standards for accreditation with member institutions that advance the impact of accreditation in the ever-changing landscape of higher education and promotes educational excellence through innovation across diverse institutions.

As an institutional accreditor, MSCHE requires evaluation of all aspects of the institution holistically, including modality of instruction, and everything done in the name of the institution, including all academic programs and services, fall within their scope of accreditation. 

MSCHE is proud of the role it serves in verifying the quality of higher education through peer review, assessment, and evaluation. MSCHE is an active partner in quality assurance through its service as a voluntary, non-governmental, membership association for institutions of higher education throughout the United States as well as globally. MSCHE is accountable to those it serves, including institutions, states and federal government, and the public. The MSCHE staff, Commissioners, and peer evaluators understand the important role, responsibility, and reach of accreditation, and we take it seriously.

United States Department of Education Recognition

MSCHE is recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE) to conduct accreditation and pre-accreditation (candidacy status) activities for institutions of higher education, including distance education and correspondence education programs offered at those institutions, throughout the United States. USDE recognizes accrediting agencies deemed authorities on the quality of higher education. Under the Higher Education Act’s (HEA’s) federal student aid programs, accrediting agencies recognized by the United States Department of Education must meet the Department’s regulatory criteria. MSCHE is a Title IV gatekeeper and is a link to federal programs, and institutions access Title IV through MSCHE accreditation.

Scope of recognition: the accreditation and preaccreditation (“Candidacy status”) of institutions of higher education including distance and correspondence education programs offered at those institutions.

Geographic Area of Accrediting Activities: Throughout the United States.

In accordance with federal regulation 34 CFR § 602.17 and § 602.19, the Commission implements a cycle for accreditation review that reevaluates and monitors institutions to ensure compliance with standards for accreditation, requirements of affiliation, policies and procedures, and applicable federal regulatory requirements. The Commission assigns institutions to an accreditation review cycle which dictates the timeline and a regular and consistent schedule of review.

The Commission’s eight-year cycle includes a Self-Study Evaluation and On-Site Evaluation visit. The Commission requires an accredited institution to undergo a comprehensive Self-Study Evaluation and On-Site Evaluation Visit at least every eight years.

For more information about accreditation, please visit the following resources:

In addition, the policy documents listed below are an important resource that describes the procedures for each component of the accreditation review cycle and monitoring activities.

Disclaimer: The material provided in this guide was developed to provide clarity for the self-study process. Commission Policy and Procedures will govern in the case of a conflict with this material. For any questions about an institution’s accreditation status or for additional information about MSCHE’s standards for accreditation, requirements of affiliation, policies, and procedures, you should contact MSCHE staff. This material is not intended as a substitute for professional advice from MSCHE staff and use of the material does not guarantee any specific accreditation outcome.