Frequently Asked Questions

Higher Learning Commission Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)?

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is one of six independent institutional accreditors in the United States. It reviews and issues accreditations to post-secondary colleges and universities in 19 states, including Ohio. 

What does it mean to be an “accredited” university?

“Accredited” signifies that a university’s programs meet a minimum standard. Accreditation is managed by third parties, like the HLC, not by the government. Accreditation allows a university to operate as a business and empowers it to grant degrees to students, including degrees that require certification, such as education and nursing. Many certifications require degrees from accredited universities. In addition, financial aid is only available to students who attend an accredited college or university. 

How often does a university receive accreditation?

The initial accreditation process is rigorous. After a university receives accreditation, standards are reviewed by HLC every 10 years.

What standards are measured in the HLC review?

The HLC evaluates accredited universities against five wide-ranging criteria:

  1. Mission. The institution’s mission is clear and articulated publicly; it guides the institution’s operations.
  2. Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct. The institution acts with integrity; its conduct is ethical and responsible.
  3. Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources and Support. The institution provides high-quality education, wherever and however its offerings are delivered.
  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.
  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.

What did the most recent HLC accreditation review of Malone reveal?

The HLC’s comprehensive review was extremely positive, particularly regarding standards one through four, including the area’s most important to students, such as academic quality and assessment/improvement.

Regarding standard five – Resources, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness – the HLC noted some areas of concern and placed Malone on “notice” regarding this standard.  

What are some examples of the HLC’s findings?

Some key findings from the report include:

“Malone University has clearly articulated Student Learning Outcomes that are appropriate for the degrees offered…To support learning, Malone University has clear processes for developing and monitoring faculty effectiveness. This includes such efforts as mentoring new faculty, updated criteria for promotion and tenure (and post-tenure review) and funding support for faculty development and scholarship.”

“Co-curricular programs in spiritual formation, service learning, project-based community projects and athletics round out learning experiences for students at Malone University. There is a wide range of support services available to students.”

“The focus on mission is strong at Malone. The university clearly states who they are and where they plan to be in the future. The team affirms that there is a clear understanding across the campus of the mission and Foundational Principles of Malone.”

What does “notice” mean regarding “Resources, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness?”

“Notice” is a rating that indicates concern, but does not affect accreditation.

In its report, the HLC identified a need for Malone to provide more data related to how its strategic plan is leading to positive results for the university’s overall performance.

Malone will supply the necessary information and expects to remedy the notice within the next 12 to 24 months.

Is Malone accredited?

Yes. Malone’s accreditation is fully intact.

Does the HLC report affect coursework?

No. The concerns noted relate to operations and strategic planning, not curriculum or educational quality.

Does the HLC report affect financial aid?

No. All financial aid programs remain in effect.

Does the HLC report affect transference of credits?

All colleges and universities define their own transfer and admission policies apart from accreditation reports. We expect no changes in other institutions’ acceptance of Malone credits for transfer or for advanced degrees. Transferring/matriculating students should investigate credit transfer policies during the application process.

How does this finding affect Malone’s future?

The HLC report simply reinforces our commitment to creating and deploying strategies that strengthen the university’s future.

What is Malone’s response to this finding?

The university will submit required documentation – including plans and the results of those strategies – throughout the next year. The goal is to meet requirements and earn a status change.

QUESTIONS?

If you have questions, please contact Dr. Nate Phinney, Provost, at nphinney@malone.edu or 330-471-8119.