Northwestern University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), one of six 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 has been accredited by the HLC since 1913 and was reaffirmed for accreditation in July 2015. As part of the HLC Open Pathway process described below, the University is preparing an update to the 2015 Assurance Argument, which was submitted and accepted in 2019. Northwestern will undergo its next comprehensive evaluation for reaffirmation of accreditation in 2024-25.
This page provides an overview of Northwestern's institutional accreditation process, including the Open Pathway Process, related news, and contact information. 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.
Contact the HLC230 S LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
Chicago, IL 60604
Open Pathway Process
Northwestern currently participates in the HLC's Open Pathway for Reaffirmation of Accreditation process, which includes both improvement and assurance components. As part of this process, the University will engage in several activities with the HLC during the upcoming 10-year cycle, including:
- Submitting annual institutional updates;
- In the first year, providing interim reports to demonstrate the University’s ongoing commitment to student learning outcomes assessment and to clarify Northwestern’s credit-hour policy;
- In the fourth year, preparing an updated “Assurance Argument” articulating how Northwestern meets the accreditation criteria;
- In years five through nine, proposing and completing a “Quality Initiative,” or improvement project, that suits the University’s present challenges or aspirations; and
- In year 10, undergoing a comprehensive evaluation, including an assurance review, a review of federal compliance, and an on-site visit.
The Office of the Provost manages accreditation activities, engaging members of the campus community, including faculty, staff, and students, in the assembly and development of accreditation materials as necessary. In addition, Northwestern’s Assessment/Accreditation Council advises on and facilitates matters related to the University’s reaffirmation of accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission.
- Northwestern's Accreditation Renewed through 2024-25 (The Daily Northwestern)
- Northwestern's Accreditation Renewed through 2024-25 (Northwestern News)
- Accreditation Team Holds Open Forums for Students, Faculty, Staff (The Daily Northwestern)
- Accreditation Team to Hold Open Sessions During April 27-28 Visit (Northwestern News)
- Northwestern Prepares for Accreditation Team Visit in April (Northwestern News)
- Northwestern Undergoing Re-Accreditation Review (Northwestern News)
- Northwestern to Undergo Re-Accreditation Next Year (The Daily Northwestern)
- Northwestern to Undergo Re-Accreditation in 2015 (Northwestern News)
- Northwestern to Undergo Re-Accreditation Process (The Daily Northwestern)