Northern Michigan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, located at 230 South LaSalle St. Suite 7-500 Chicago, Illinois. The HLC has described foundational Assumed Practices that are shared by all accredited institutions of higher education and Criteria for Accreditation organized into five headings. All components of each criterion must be met in order to satisfy a Criterion for Accreditation.
Accreditation is an ongoing process of meeting standards, continuous improvement, and quality assurance demonstrated through internal and external review. Through the accreditation process, the university continuously reviews the standards and indicators to ensure that the standards are being met and to identify areas that the school may need to strengthen or improve. This review requires the university to identify the data, information, evidence, and documented results that validate that it is meeting each standard.
Previously, NMU adopted the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) method of accreditation formerly offered as an option by HLC. With AQIP, an institution demonstrated it met accreditation standards and expectations through sequences of events aligned with those ongoing activities that characterize organizations striving to improve their performance.
Under AQIP until 2016, every four years NMU submitted a Systems Portfolio -- a sort of procedures and evidence manual -- with a question-and-answer approach based upon the HLC Criteria. A team of accreditation reviewers from peer institutions evaluated the Systems Portfolio and provided detailed feedback in a Systems Appraisal. As an AQIP institution, NMU participated in an AQIP Strategy Forum with other AQIP institutions at HLC. NMU chose its own focus based upon the Systems Appraisal and current quality culture needs. After the last System Portfolio review, NMU transitioned from the AQIP Pathway to HLC's Open Pathway.
When AQIP was a major HLC Pathway for accreditation, on a continuous basis, every participating institution had at least three Action Projects underway. Annually, service units and academic programs completed outcomes assessment reports and plans. NMU currently engages in Continuous Quality Improvement work; information about Action Projects dating to the AQIP accreditation period remains available on this webpage.