About Accreditation

2016-17 Reaffirmation of Accreditation

In 2016-2017, a peer review team from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) will conduct a site visit as part of UNL’s reaffirmation of accreditation. Prior to this visit, the university will complete a comprehensive evaluation to evaluate the extent to which it is meeting the five criteria established by the HLC.

UNL is required to complete the comprehensive evaluation to maintain regional accreditation. Just as important, the reaffirmation process provides an opportunity for UNL to document the strengths of our educational programs, continue our commitment to educational improvement, and enhance our understanding of institutional effectiveness.

The Office of Academic Affairs is responsible for coordinating UNL’s efforts to prepare for the comprehensive evaluation and the HLC site visit. UNL last underwent a comprehensive evaluation and site visit during the 2006-07 academic year. For the 2016-2017 reaffirmation of accreditation, UNL will participate in the Open Pathway model. This model was debuted by HLC in 2013 and is significantly different from the 2006-2007 reaffirmation process.

This page describes the reaffirmation process and the university’s plan for conducting the comprehensive evaluation, including the committee structure that will guide the process.

Public Comment

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is seeking comments from the public about the University in preparation for its periodic evaluation by its regional accrediting agency. The University will host a visit October 24 & 25, 2016, with a team representing the Higher Learning Commission. UNL has been accredited by the Commission since 1913. The team will review the University’s ongoing ability to meet the HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation.

The public is invited to send written, signed comments regarding the University to:

Public Comment on the
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Higher Learning Commission
230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
Chicago, IL 60604-1411

The public may also submit comments on the Commission’s website.

Comments must address substantive matters related to the quality of the University or its academic programs. Comments must be in writing.

All comments must be received no later than September 24, 2016.

The Reaffirmation Process

The Open Pathway model separates the reaffirmation of accreditation process into three components:

  1. the Quality Initiative
  2. a comprehensive evaluation (Assurance Review)
  3. the peer-review team report and recommendations
Open Pathway Model
Quality Initiative

The Open Pathway model requires an institution to designate one major improvement effort it has undertaken as a Quality Initiative for reaffirmation of accreditation. UNL’s Quality Initiative, Implementing and Assessing the ACE 10 Outcome: Exploring Learning and Career Preparation within the Undergraduate Major, is a two-year project designed to engage faculty in systematic conversations about the role that curriculum, advising, and mentoring within each major plays in students’ career exploration and development.

Comprehensive Evaluation

Assurance Review. The Assurance Review focuses on the evaluation of UNL’s Assurance Argument and Evidence File in relation to the Criteria for Accreditation. Criterion Work Groups will develop assurance arguments with links to materials in an Evidence File. The Assurance Argument must address each criterion in a specified format, link to evidentiary materials in an Evidence File, be no longer than 35,000 words, and be submitted online.

Federal Compliance. UNL must address federal requirements in the information submitted to the HLC before the site visit. Specially trained peer reviewers will study submitted documentation and make a determination of whether UNL meets Federal Compliance requirements.

Onsite Visit. A peer review team selected by the HLC will conduct a preliminary analysis of UNL’s Assurance Filing (Assurance Argument and Evidence File) and the results of the Student Opinion Survey. The Student Opinion Survey, conducted by the HLC, is intended to help the peer review team identify questions for its meetings with faculty, staff, and students during the onsite visit. The peer review team is scheduled to be on campus in the fall of 2016.

Team Report and Recommendations

After the site visit, the peer review team prepares a draft report indicating the degree to which the institution meets the HLC Criteria for Accreditation and compliance with Federal Compliance Requirements. The team’s draft analysis and recommendation (team report) will be sent to UNL for correction of error of fact. The team revises the report appropriately and submits its final version to the Commission, which then sends the final version to the university. There is an opportunity to provide a response to the final report.

Higher Learning Commission Criteria

HCL Criteria 1


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

HCL Criteria 2

Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct

The institution acts with integrity; its conduct is ethical and responsible.

HCL Criteria 3

Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support

The institution provides high quality education, wherever and however its offerings are delivered.

HCL Criteria 4

Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement

The institution 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.

HCL Criteria 5

Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness

The institution’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. The institution plans for the future.

Higher Learning Commission criteria video
Learn more about the HLC’s criteria in this video.