University Accreditation

HLC sealNorthwestern University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), one of seven regional accreditors in the U.S. that provide institutional accreditation for higher education. Institutional accreditation helps to ensure educational quality and regulatory compliance across American colleges and universities. Further, accreditation through the HLC establishes Northwestern’s eligibility to participate in Federal student aid programs.

Northwestern University was last reaffirmed for accreditation by the HLC in 2005. In April 2015 Northwestern will undergo its next comprehensive evaluation for reaffirmation of accreditation. This page provides an overview of the process, engagement opportunities, timeline, and contacts related to the upcoming re-accreditation review.

In addition to institutional accreditation, certain programs of the University maintain specialized accreditation. For more information on Northwestern’s programmatic accreditations, please refer to the Office of the Registrar.

Open Pathway Process

For this re-accreditation cycle, the HLC selected Northwestern to serve as a “pioneer” in the new Open Pathway process for maintaining accreditation. This process includes both improvement and assurance components.  Learn more.

Opportunities for Engagement

There are multiple avenues for students, faculty, and staff to participate in and provide feedback on the accreditation process. In addition, the public is invited to provide comments on the University to the Higher Learning Commission.  Learn more.


The Office of the Provost will keep the Northwestern community informed throughout the re-accreditation process and will provide details about the site visit in early 2015. Following is the timeline for the full process.
  • Winter–Spring 2014  Planning for collection and development of materials; Initial announcements to campus community
  • Summer 2014  Collecting narrative/evidence for assurance and federal compliance reviews
  • Fall 2014 – Winter 2015  Synthesis and review of assurance and federal compliance reports; preparations for site visit; conduct HLC student satisfaction survey
  • Spring 2015  On-site visit by peer review team; review/follow-up regarding team report

Related News

The Daily Northwestern: Accreditation Team Holds Open Forums for Faculty, Students, Staff
Northwestern University News: Accreditation Team to Hold Open Sessions During April 27-28 Visit
Northwestern University News: Northwestern Prepares for Accrediation Team Visit in April
Northwestern University News: Northwestern Undergoing Re-Accreditation Review
The Daily Northwestern: Northwestern to Undergo Re-Accreditation Next Year
Northwestern University News: Northwestern to Undergo Re-Accreditation in 2015
The Daily Northwestern: Northwestern to Undergo Re-Accreditation Process


Please direct any questions regarding the University’s accreditation to Jake Julia (, Associate Vice President and Associate Provost for Academic Initiatives or Jenny Puchtel (, Manager of the Accreditation Process.