NMU's Current Accreditation
Northern Michigan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), a regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Northern has been accredited by HLC since 1916.
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, each with multiple Core Components. All components of each criterion must be met in order to satisfy a Criterion for Accreditation and all Criteria must be met for an institution to remain in good standing.
NMU is currently in good standing with HLC. Accreditation was most recently reaffirmed in 2016-17; NMU's next Assurance Review is in 2020 and the next Comprehensive Evaluation for reaffirmation is scheduled for 2026-27.
Accreditation is an ongoing process of meeting standards, continuously improving, and assuring quality demonstrated through internal and external review. Through the accreditation process, the University continuously reviews indicators against accreditation criteria to ensure that the standards are being met and to identify opportunities to strengthen or improve practices, processes, and policies. Regular accreditation review requires the University to identify data, information, and evidence and to document results that validate that it is meeting each standard. In addition to annual reporting, NMU's next major regular accreditation review will be an Assurance Review filed in fall 2020 with HLC peer review and response completed during academic year 2020-21.
NMU is accredited on HLC's Open Pathway, which is focused on quality assurance and institutional improvement. Fostering a culture of careful attention to quality and continuous quality improvement is essential to remaining a high-caliber university and meeting Open Pathway expectations. The Open Pathway allows more freedom for NMU than other HLC accreditation pathways.
HLC's accreditation means ongoing interaction with the external agency and peers from institutions like NMU who offer feedback on our practices, processes, and policies. A team of accreditation reviewers from peer institutions evaluate our Assurance Argument during the fourth year of the ten-year accreditation cycle and peers conduct a comprehensive review including a site visit to NMU in the tenth year (2026-27). After the Assurance Review of year four (2020-21), NMU will propose and carry out a years-long Quality Initiative. This work will be designed by NMU to advance the institution toward aspirational goals.
Previously, NMU adopted the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) method of accreditation formerly offered as an option by HLC. Information and resources from the period of NMU's accreditation under AQIP is available on our webpages at www.nmu.org/aqip. When AQIP was a major HLC Pathway for accreditation, on a continuous basis, every participating institution had at least three Action Projects underway.
After the last System Portfolio review which led to reaffirmation of accreditation in 2016-17, NMU transitioned from the AQIP Pathway to HLC's Open Pathway.