Approvals for New Programs by Accreditors
Notes on Institutional Accreditation
Northern has institutional accreditation stipulations that allow us to offer new programs at any degree level other than doctoral without prior approval if the degree is in a field we operate in already, we are to offer it without partners, and it is not a CBE program (contact Dan Cullen and/or see the pdf at this link if you want more information about competency-based education, CBE). Our stipulation includes approval to offer programs in distance education modality.
Because of US Dept of Education rules, all certificate program must be approved. Most are immediately approved through submission of a simple online form, but an HLC desk review might be required.
If Northern eventually has approved several (the number is uncertain) doctoral programs, our stipulation will likely change to allow new doctoral programs without prior approval, but currently any new doctoral program must be approved in advance. Approval will require a full application including a site visit by peer reviewers and will likely take about 9 months from the time the application is submitted until approval, if the proposal is approved.
Courses can be offered in person off campus. If a student could complete at least 50% of a program at an off-campus location (including a degree-completion program), we need to have that location approved. This is not difficult and should not be seen as a barrier to action, but compliance is essential for Northern to remain in good standing with HLC and ED.
Specialized or Programmatic Accreditation is managed by the department. Please make sure you are updating Academic Affairs on any changes. If you need help, you can contact Dan Cullen in Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment.
Institutional accreditation does not typically monitor campus activities at the program level. However, since the institution-level operation is ultimately comprised of program-level activity, sometimes new programs require prior approval by the Higher Learning Commission as Northern maintains our HLC institutional accreditation. Programs that would be a "significant departure from programs previously included in [NMU's] accreditation" need prior approval.
HLC requires that: "When prior approval is required, institutions may take steps designed to make their constituents, including prospective students, aware that an application for a new 'has been submitted to the accreditor and is pending HLC approval.' Institutions may not take any other steps to actively recruit or enroll students into the prospective program until HLC has issued formal approval of the program in an official Action Letter."
The form at the button below uses a series of questions to help you determine whether a new program would require prior approval and will also register the program with the IRPA office so we can help you manage approvals while Northern maintains good standing with institutional accreditation.
You can preview the questions on the form and the different implications of answer options on the Accreditation Checklist page for new programs.
New Certificate Program
If your department will offer a new certificate, you must get prior approval by HLC. This is for compliance with ED regulations, so being out of compliance would make us vulnerable to fines or sanctions related to Federal Student Aid. Compliance is not difficult. Most new programs can be verified for immediate approval through an automated HLC screening form. Dan Cullen in Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment will help you manage this process. Please use the form at the button below to access a form. You will need to answer a few questions about the certificate program, and then submit and IRPA will contact you with your approval or for follow-up action.
Important note about certificate programs:
Any formal NMU credential that is shorter than a degree would be treated as a certificate, no matter what we call it (i.e., a microcredential, by whatever name, is a considered a certificate).
However, we might have transcript notes that are not NMU credentials that do not meet the certificate threshold despite having a similar name (e.g., a certification). If you are in doubt, Dan Cullen, the Office of Academic Affairs, and/or the Office of the Registrar can help you sort out whether approval is needed.