Accrediting Standards

To gain or maintain accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an institution must comply with the standards contained in the Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement and with the policies and procedures of the Commission. The Commission applies the requirements of its Principles to all applicant, candidate, and member institutions, regardless of type of institution (public, private for-profit, or private not-for-profit).

Listed below are seven resource documents:

  1. The 2018 Edition of the Principles of Accreditation: Foundation for Quality Enhancement (adopted December 2017 and effective January 1, 2018)
  2. The 2012 Edition of the Principles of Accreditation: Foundation for Quality Enhancement (adopted December 2011 and effective January 1, 2012) (Second Printing with edits)
  3. The 2012 Edition of the Principles of Accreditation: Foundation for Quality Enhancement (adopted December 2011 and effective January 1, 2012) (First Printing)
  4. The 2010 Edition of the Principles of Accreditation: Foundation for Quality Enhancement (adopted December 2009 and effective January 1, 2010)
  5. The 2008 Edition of the Principles Of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement (adopted December 2007 and effective January 1, 2008)
  6. The 2007 Interim Edition of the Principles Of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement (adopted December 2006 and effective January 1, 2007)
  7. The 1997-2003 Edition of the Criteria for Accreditation, standards in effect until the implementation of the Principles of Accreditation in January 2004 (adopted December 1984 and effective 1987 through 2003).

Application Information

The procedure for achieving initial membership in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) is found in the policy entitled Accreditation Procedures for Applicant Institutions. The procedure for campuses of SACSCOC member institutions to secure separately-accredited status is found in the policy entitled Separate Accreditation for Units of a Member Institution. The standards of the Commission are found in The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement, which also contains a section on the mission, philosophy, and organization of SACSCOC. The Handbook for Institutions Seeking Initial Accreditation describes the process of moving from Applicant to Candidate to Member institution.

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Reaffirmation Process

The SACSCOC Board of Trustees conducts several types of institutional reviews: (1) Candidate Committee reviews of institutions seeking candidacy, (2) Accreditation Committee reviews of candidate institutions seeking initial membership, (3) Reaffirmation Committee reviews of member institutions seeking continued accreditation following a comprehensive review, (4) Special Committee reviews of member institutions seeking continued accreditation following evaluation of institutional circumstances that are accreditation related, and (5) Substantive Change Committee reviews of member institutions seeking approval and continued accreditation following the review of a change of a significant modification or expansion to the institution’s nature and scope. These reviews are conducted in accordance with the Core Requirements and Standards in the Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement to provide consistent guidelines for peer reviews, representing the collective judgment of the membership on standards appropriate for the assurance of quality in higher education. Each of the above types of reviews has its own evaluation documents and peer review procedures and can be found on the SACSCOC web site at www.sacscoc.org.

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Institutional Resources

This section deals primarily with SACSCOC-accredited institutions seeking reaffirmation of accreditation with the Commission. The Handbook for Institutions Seeking Reaffirmation of Accreditation provides information for institutions undergoing reaffirmation and can be ordered by using the Commission’s Publication Order Form accessed at “Policies, Guidelines, Good Practices, and Position Statements.” The “Substantive Change for Accredited Institutions of the Commission on Colleges” provides information for institutions undergoing a change of a substantive nature as defined in the policy. For institutions applying for membership with the Commission, access “Application information” by clicking here.

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