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   Criteria IV - Educational Program
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   C. Institutional Effectiveness Audit

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The Commission expects each member institution to focus its resources and energies on the education of its students consistent with its purpose. Effectiveness in all educational programs, delivery systems, and support structures should be the primary goal of every institution. An effective institution of higher education demonstrates attention to curricular consistencies, pedagogical competence, student accomplishment, intellectual inquisitiveness, personal and professional development, ethical consciousness, academic freedom, faculty support, and an environment conducive to learning. It prepares its students to function in an increasingly diverse, complex and global society by imparting to them not only a mastery of a body of knowledge and technical skills but also by providing opportunities for them to develop enhanced communication skills and the ability to reason critically.

The principles of institutional effectiveness as outlined in Section III pertain to all academic programs and units of the institution. It is expected that each program or unit will establish goals which derive from and support the purpose of the institution, evaluate its success in achieving these goals, and demonstrate the use of the evaluation in making appropriate modifications in resources, programs and services.

It is implicit in every requirement in the Criteria for Accreditation mandating a policy or procedure that the policy or procedure be in writing, be approved through appropriate institutional processes, be published in appropriate institutional documents accessible to those affected by the policy or procedure, and be implemented and enforced by the institution.

4.1 General Requirements of the Educational Program
4.1.1 All aspects of the educational program must be clearly related to the purpose of the institution.

4.1.2 The institution must provide a competent faculty, adequate library/learning resources, and appropriate computer resources, instructional materials/equipment and physical facilities.

4.1.3 The student enrollment and financial resources of an institution must be sufficient to support an effective educational program.

4.1.4 In addition, the institution must ensure appropriate levels of student achievement and equivalent quality of programs regardless of method of instruction or location of program.

4.2 Undergraduate Program
4.2.1 Undergraduate Admission

4.2.1.1 General admission policies must be established by the governing board on recommendation of the administration.

4.2.1.2 The board is responsible for deciding the size and character of the student body.

4.2.1.3 Implementation of specific admission policies, however, is the responsibility of the administration and faculty of the institution.

4.2.1.4 The unit responsible for administering the policies must be clearly identified.

4.2.1.5 In those institutions in which various subdivisions maintain separate admission requirements, there must be institution-wide coordination of all admission policies and procedures.

4.2.1.6 Admission policies must be consistent with the educational purposes of the institution.

4.2.1.7 They must include qualitative and quantitative requirements that identify students who demonstrate reasonable potential for success at the institution.

4.2.1.8 An institution admitting students with deficiencies in their preparation for collegiate study must offer appropriate developmental or remedial support to assist these students. Diagnostic testing should be an important element of a developmental or remedial program.

4.2.1.9 Each institution must regularly evaluate its admission policies.

4.2.1.10 It is the responsibility of the institution to ensure that its recruiting activities and materials accurately and truthfully portray the institution.

4.2.1.11 To be admitted to degree programs, applicants must show evidence of high school graduation or other successful experiences which reasonably predict their ability to make satisfactory progress at the institution.

4.2.1.12 Each institution must assess and justify the appropriateness of experiences offered in lieu of a high school diploma.

4.2.1.13 Procedures established for implementation of institutional admission policies must be followed in the admission of all students.

4.2.1.14 The institution must provide evidence that it selects students whose interests and capabilities are consistent with the admission policies. An institution's admission and retention policies should not be compromised to maintain a desired enrollment.

4.2.1.15 An institution must clearly define and publish its policy on the admission of transfer students.

4.2.1.16 The policy must include the following: the requirement for official transcripts of credits earned from all institutions of higher education previously attended; qualitative and quantitative criteria determining the acceptability of transfer work; criteria regarding the award of advanced standing, whether by credit earned at another institution, by advanced placement examinations, or through experiential learning; and conditions governing admission in good standing, admission on probation, and provisional admission.

4.2.1.17 Institutions which award credit based on advanced placement or other examinations; training provided by non-collegiate institutions, such as armed forces and service schools; professional certification; or experiential learning must meet the following conditions governing the award of such credit:

4.2.1.17.1 The amount of credit awarded is clearly stated and is in accord with commonly accepted good practice in higher education.

4.2.1.17.2 Credit is awarded only in areas offered within the current curriculum of the institution, and is appropriately related to the student's educational programs.

4.2.1.17.3 Decisions regarding the awarding of credit and the determination of such credit are made by qualified faculty members at the institution, or according to procedures and standards approved by qualified faculty. The institution demonstrates that assessment procedures verify that the credit awarded is appropriate.

4.2.1.18 In awarding credit for prior experiential learning, the institution must (1) award credit only for documented learning which demonstrates achievement of all outcomes for specific courses in an approved degree program; (2) award credit only to matriculated students, identify such credit on the student's transcript as credit for prior experiential learning and, upon request from another institution, document how such learning was evaluated and the basis on which such credit was awarded; (3) ensure that credit for prior experiential learning does not duplicate credit already awarded or remaining courses planned for the student's academic program; (4) adopt, describe in appropriate institutional publications, implement and regularly review policies and procedures for awarding credit for experiential learning; and (5) clearly describe, and establish the validity of, the evaluation process and criteria for awarding credit for prior experiential learning.

4.2.1.19 The institution must inform transfer students of the amount of credit which will transfer, preferably prior to their enrollment, but at least prior to the end of the first academic term in which they are enrolled.

4.2.1.20 Coursework transferred or accepted for credit toward an undergraduate degree must represent collegiate coursework relevant to the degree, with course content and level of instruction resulting in student competencies at least equivalent to those of students enrolled in the institution's own undergraduate degree programs. In assessing and documenting equivalent learning and qualified faculty, an institution may use recognized guides which aid in the evaluation for credit. Such guides include those published by the American Council on Education, the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, and the National Association of Foreign Student Affairs.

4.2.1.21 There must be clearly defined policies regarding the academic dismissal, suspension and readmission of students.

4.2.1.22 Readmission of students dismissed or suspended for academic reasons must be consistent with the academic policies of the institution.

4.2.2 Undergraduate Completion Requirements

4.2.2.1 In each degree program, there must be an appropriate sequence of courses leading to the degree.

 4.2.2.2 An institution must publish the requirements for each degree it awards.

4.2.2.3 The requirements must be appropriate to the degree offered and must specify the total credits, the number and distribution of general education credits, the number of credits to be earned in the major or area of concentration, the number of electives, standards for satisfactory progress, and other degree requirements.

4.2.2.4 Undergraduate degree programs must contain a basic core of general education courses. A minimum of 15 semester hours for associate programs and a minimum of 30 semester hours for baccalaureate programs are required for degree completion.

4.2.2.5 The core must include at least one course from each of the following areas: humanities/fine arts, social/behavioral sciences, and natural sciences/mathematics.

4.2.2.6 The institution must demonstrate that its graduates of degree programs are competent in reading, writing, oral communication, fundamental mathematical skills and the basic use of computers.

4.2.2.7 An institution must clearly define what is meant by a major or an area of concentration and must state the number of credits required for each.

4.2.2.8 An adequate number of hours with appropriate prerequisites must be required in courses above the elementary level.

4.2.2.9 For degree completion, at least 25 percent of semester credit hours, or the equivalent quarter hours, must be earned through instruction by the institution awarding the degree.

4.2.2.10 All courses, other than those identified by the institution as developmental/remedial, offered by an institution for credit must be acceptable as requirements or electives applicable to at least one of its own degree or certificate programs or must be clearly identified on transcripts as not applicable to any of the institution's own degree or certificate programs.

 4.2.3 Undergraduate Curriculum

 4.2.3.1 Curricula must be directly related and appropriate to the purpose and goals of the institution and the diplomas, certificates or degrees awarded; to the ability and preparation of the students admitted; and to the financial and instructional resources of the institution.

4.2.3.2 The institution must have a clearly defined process by which the curriculum is established, reviewed and evaluated.

4.2.3.3 This process must recognize the various roles of the faculty, the administration and the governing board.

4.2.3.4 For each major in a degree program, the institution must assign responsibility for program coordination, as well as for curriculum development and review, to persons academically qualified in the field.

4.2.3.5 At least one full-time faculty member with appropriate credentials, as defined in Section 4.8.2, must have primary teaching assignment in the major. In those degree programs for which the institution does not identify a major, the above requirements apply to a curricular area or a concentration.

4.2.3.6 The governing board must be responsible for approving the number and types of degrees; the number and nature of departments, divisions, schools or colleges through which the curriculum is administered; and the extent to which the institution should offer distance learning programs.

4.2.3.7 The administration and faculty must be responsible for the development of academic programs recommended to the governing board.

4.2.3.8 They are also responsible for implementing and monitoring the general curriculum policy and the academic programs approved by the board.

4.2.3.9 There should be an institution-wide process to coordinate programmatic and curricular changes. The institution should avoid the unwarranted proliferation of course offerings and degree programs. The development of new educational programs should be considered only after the institution has completed a needs assessment and has identified resources to support the programs. The institution should proceed only after careful review by appropriate faculty and administrative bodies, approval by the governing board, and any necessary review and approval by state or other agencies.

4.2.3.10 Curricula intended to provide basic preparation for students who will subsequently transfer to another institution must be designed to consider the institutions to which these students transfer. Associate and baccalaureate degree-granting institutions should work cooperatively to develop articulation agreements. The agreements should be evaluated periodically to ensure an equitable and efficient transfer of students.

4.2.3.11 "'Inverted," "two plus two" and similar programs must include an adequate amount of advanced coursework in the subject field.

4.2.3.12 Institutions which enter into programmatic partnerships with secondary schools which result in the award of college credit, such as technical and dual enrollment programs, must ensure that the credit awarded is at the collegiate level and is in compliance with the Criteria and with Section IV in particular.

4.2.3.12.1 Partnerships must be evaluated regularly by the participating institution of higher education.

4.2.3.12.2 The participating institution must assume full responsibility for the academic quality and integrity of partnerships as measured by the Criteria.

4.2.4 Undergraduate Instruction

 4.2.4.1 Instructional techniques and policies must be in accord with the purpose of the institution and be appropriate to the specific goals of an individual course.

4.2.4.2 Instruction must be evaluated regularly and the results used to ensure quality instruction.

4.2.4.3 Students must be provided written information about the goals and requirements of each course, the nature of the course content, and the methods of evaluation to be employed.

4.2.4.4 Methods of instruction must be appropriate to the goals of each course and the capabilities of the students.

4.2.4.5 Experimentation with methods to improve instruction must be adequately supported and critically evaluated.

4.2.4.6 An institution must use a variety of means to evaluate student performance.

 4.2.4.7 The evaluation must reflect concern for quality and properly discern levels of student performance.

 4.2.4.8 An institution must publish its grading policies, and its grading practices must be consistent with policy.

 4.2.4.9 The institution must evaluate the effectiveness of its instructional program by a variety of techniques, which may include the following: use of standardized tests and comprehensive examinations, assessment of the performance of graduates in advanced programs or employment, and sampling of the opinions of former students.

 4.2.4.10 Courses offered in non-traditional formats, e.g., concentrated or abbreviated time periods, must be designed to ensure an opportunity for preparation, reflection and analysis concerning the subject matter. At least one calendar week of reflection and analysis should be provided to students for each semester hour, or equivalent quarter hours, of undergraduate credit awarded.

 4.2.4.11 The institution must demonstrate that students completing these programs or courses have acquired equivalent levels of knowledge and competencies to those acquired in traditional formats.

 4.2.4.12 Effective instruction depends largely upon the maintenance of an environment conducive to study and learning. Therefore, an institution of higher education must provide for its students a learning environment in which scholarly and creative achievement is encouraged.

 4.2.4.13 In certain professional, vocational and technical programs (for example, allied health programs), clinical and other affiliations with outside agencies may be necessary. In all such cases, learning experiences for which credit is awarded must be under the ultimate control and supervision of the educational institution.

 4.2.4.14 The institution must demonstrate that an effective relationship exists between curricular content and current practices in the field of specialization.

 4.2.4.15 An institution must demonstrate that program length, clock hours or credit hours, and tuition and fee charges are appropriate for the degrees and credentials it offers.

 4.2.5 Academic Advising of Undergraduate Students

 4.2.5.1 Each institution must conduct a systematic, effective program of undergraduate academic advising. A qualified advisor should be assigned early in the student's program and should recognize the individuality of students and their particular needs and goals. Advisors should be proficient in using data to help determine students' major fields of interest, should have access to each advisee's records, and should have appropriate training or background and experience to carry out their responsibilities effectively.

 4.2.5.2 An institution must ensure that the number of advisees assigned to faculty or professional staff is reasonable.

 4.2.5.3 An effective orientation program must be made available to all full- and part-time undergraduate students.

 4.2.5.4 Orientation and advisement programs must be evaluated regularly and used to enhance assistance to students.

 4.3 Graduate Program
 4.3.1 Initiation, Operation and Expansion of Graduate Programs

 4.3.1.1 The administration and faculty must be responsible for the development of new academic programs recommended to the governing board.

 4.3.1.2 A graduate program must have curricula and resources substantially beyond those provided for an undergraduate program.

 4.3.1.3 Research, scholarly activity and/or advanced professional training must be included in graduate studies and supported by adequate resources.

 4.3.1.4 An institution must provide a competent and productive faculty, adequate library and learning resources, adequate computer and laboratory facilities, and an appropriate administrative organization.

 4.3.1.5 An undergraduate institution planning to initiate its first graduate program, a graduate institution planning to initiate a program at a degree level higher than that already approved, or a graduate institution planning to initiate a program at the same level but substantially different from those already approved must inform the Executive Director of the Commission on Colleges in advance of the admission of students. (See the Commission document, "General Substantive Change Policy for Accredited Institutions." ) The institution also must document that any necessary approval from state or other agencies has been secured.

 4.3.1.6 Before an institution moves from baccalaureate to graduate status, or attempts to expand the number of its graduate programs at the same level, it must demonstrate that it has conducted a thorough assessment of needs, market and environmental factors, and resource requirements and financial implications for the institution. (See Commission document "General Substantive Change Policy for Accredited Institutions".)

 4.3.1.7 Institutions must maintain strong educational programs at the master's and/or baccalaureate levels before attempting doctoral programs, or must justify their departure from the requirement. Free-standing graduate and professional schools are exempted from this requirement. However, they must demonstrate not only the strength of their individual programs, but also that students admitted have met undergraduate requirements specified for the program.

 4.3.2 Graduate Admission

 4.3.2.1 An institution must establish qualitative and quantitative requirements which result in the admission of students whose educational preparation indicates the potential for a high level of performance.

 4.3.2.2 Admission criteria typically include an appropriate baccalaureate degree. In cases where the baccalaureate degree is not required, the institution must demonstrate that the student has adequate educational preparation to complete the graduate program.

 4.3.2.3 Admission procedures must include the requirement that an applicant submit, as part of the formal application process, official undergraduate transcripts of credit earned from all institutions of higher education previously attended; and other appropriate documents, such as official reports on nationally recognized aptitude tests and evaluations by professionals in the field as to the readiness of an applicant for graduate work. When possible, an interview with the applicant should also be arranged.

 4.3.2.4 Admission criteria for all graduate programs must be published.

 4.3.2.5 Coursework transferred or accepted for credit toward a graduate degree must represents graduate coursework relevant to the degree, with course content and level of instruction resulting in student competencies at least equivalent to those of students enrolled in the institution's own graduate degree programs. In assessing and documenting equivalent learning and qualified faculty, institutions may use recognized guides which aid in the evaluation for credit. Such guides include those published by the American Council on Education, the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, and the National Association of Foreign Student Affairs.

 4.3.2.6 Graduate credit must not be awarded for portfolio based experiential learning which occurs prior to the matriculation into a graduate program and which has not been under the supervision of the institution. This limitation on the award of credit for experiential learning does not preclude practices such as internships and field experiences that are an integral part of a graduate program and are conducted under the supervision of the institution. In those exceptional individual cases, however, an institution may award graduate credit for portfolio-based experiential learning which occurs prior to the student's matriculation into a graduate program. Justification for an exception must include adequate documentation that the institution: (a) awards credit only for documented learning which ties the prior experience to the theories and data of the relevant academic field; (b) awards credit only to a matriculated student, identifies such credit on the student's transcript as credit for prior experiential learning, and is prepared, upon request from another institution, to document how such learning was evaluated and the basis on which such credit was awarded; (c) takes steps to ensure that credit for prior experiential learning does not duplicate credit already awarded for courses in the student's academic program; (d) adopts, describes in appropriate institutional publications, implements, and regularly reviews policies and procedures for awarding credit for experiential learning; and (e) clearly describes, and establishes the validity of, the evaluation process and criteria for awarding credit for prior experiential learning.

 4.3.2.7 Separate admission criteria must be formulated for each level of graduate work offered.

 4.3.2.8 Policies must clearly define probation or conditional admission, if any, including the requirements for conditional admission and how long a student may remain in that status.

 4.3.2.9 Admission criteria for each graduate program must be established with representation by the faculty responsible for instruction in that program.

 4.3.2.10 An institution must publish both the general criteria for admission and any special admission criteria for individual programs.

 4.3.2.11  It must regularly evaluate its admission policies.

4.3.3 Graduate Completion Requirements

 4.3.3.1 General completion requirements for graduate degrees offered by an institution must be determined by the faculty or an appropriate body representing the faculty.

 4.3.3.2 Policies governing these requirements must include the following: the specified period of time for degree completion, requirements governing residency, thesis and dissertation requirements (when applicable), the minimum number of credit hours required for the degree, the minimum acceptable grade-point average, standards for satisfactory academic progress, the level of academic progress at which the student should apply for candidacy, and the types of qualifying and exit examinations the candidate must pass.

 4.3.3.3 These requirements, along with any others developed by the institution, must be published and distributed to all incoming graduate students and be appropriate to the degree and program being offered.

 4.3.3.4 If individual academic units develop special completion requirements for their graduate programs, these requirements must be published in the official catalog.

 4.3.3.5 All courses offered by an institution for credit must be acceptable as requirements or electives applicable to at least one of its own degree or certificate programs or must be clearly identified on transcripts as not applicable to any of the institution's own degree or certificate programs.

4.3.4 Graduate Curriculum

 4.3.4.1 An institution offering graduate work must be able to demonstrate that it maintains a substantial difference between undergraduate and graduate instruction.

 4.3.4.2 Graduate study must be at a level of complexity and specialization that extends the knowledge and intellectual maturity of the student.

 4.3.4.3 It must require graduate students to analyze, explore, question, reconsider and synthesize old and new knowledge and skills.

 4.3.4.4 The graduate curriculum must afford the depth of education, the specialized skills, and the sense of creative independence that will allow the graduate to practice in and contribute to a profession or field of scholarship.

 4.3.4.5 Combined instruction of graduate and undergraduate students, if permitted at all, must be structured to ensure appropriate attention to both groups.

 4.3.4.6 The curricular offerings must be clearly and accurately described in published materials.

4.3.4.7 Curricula must be directly related and appropriate to the purpose and goals of the institution and the degree program, and to the financial and instructional resources of the institution.

 4.3.4.8 The institution must have a clearly defined process by which the curriculum is established, reviewed and evaluated.

 4.3.4.9 The faculty and administration are responsible for implementing and monitoring the general curriculum policy and the academic programs approved by the board. There should be an institution-wide process to coordinate programmatic and curricular changes.

 4.3.4.10 The governing board must be responsible for approving the number and types of degrees; the number and nature of departments, divisions, schools or colleges through which the curriculum is administered; and the extent to which the institution should offer distance learning programs.

 4.3.4.11 An institution must make a distinction between a course of study leading to the master's or specialist degree and a course of study leading to the doctorate.

 4.3.4.12 A program leading to a master's or to a specialist degree must be the equivalent of at least one year of full-time graduate study.

 4.3.4.13 A master's or a specialist degree must provide the following: an understanding of research and the manner in which research is conducted; an understanding of the subject matter, literature, theory and methodology of the discipline; an association with resident faculty sufficient to permit their individual evaluation of the candidate's capabilities; and demonstrated means of certifying the knowledge and skills the candidate has acquired.

 4.3.4.14 A non-research-oriented professional master's degree requires an understanding of the accepted professional practices in the field.

 4.3.4.15 The institution must demonstrate that an effective relationship exists between curricular content and current practices in the field of specialization.

 4.3.4.16 The institution must demonstrate that program length, credit hours, and tuition and fees are appropriate for its master's and specialist degrees and any other credential it offers.

 4.3.4.17 A doctoral degree program must be of sufficient duration to provide for substantial mastery of the subject matter, theory, literature, research and methodology of a significant part of the field, including any language or other skills necessary to its pursuit, and independent research as evidenced by a doctoral dissertation.

 4.3.4.18 A substantial period of residence must be included to provide student access to a wide range of support facilities, including a research library, cultural events and other occasions for intellectual growth associated with campus life, significant faculty/student interaction, opportunities for student exposure to and engagement with cognate disciplines and research scholars working in those disciplines, and significant peer interaction among graduate students. It should provide the opportunity for a mentoring apprentice relationship between faculty and students as well as adequate time for in-depth faculty evaluation of students.

 4.3.4.19 For appropriate professional programs, a project may be substituted for the research dissertation. In such cases, the institution must demonstrate a substantial level of competency appropriate to a doctoral degree.

 4.3.4.20 There must be appropriate and regular means for determining candidacy and the fulfillment of degree requirements.

4.3.4.21 The institution must demonstrate that an effective relationship exists between curricular content and current practices in the field of specialization.

4.3.4.22 The institution must demonstrate that program length, credit hours, and tuition and fees are appropriate for its doctoral degrees.

4.3.4.23 The institution must conduct frequent systematic evaluations of graduate curricula offerings and program requirements.

4.3.4.24 An institution must integrate research with instruction. Follow up of students is one method of testing the effectiveness of the graduate curriculum.

4.3.5 Graduate Instruction

4.3.5.1 The effectiveness of a graduate program depends largely on the scholarly stimulation obtained when a group of students interacts with faculty in complementary specialties. For this reason, graduate faculty members should be productive, creative scholars readily accessible to their students. The institution must provide an environment which supports and encourages scholarly interaction and accessibility among the faculty and students consistent with the qualitative intent of the Criteria.

4.3.5.2 Instructional methods and delivery systems must provide students with the opportunity to achieve the stated objectives of a course or program.

4.3.5.3 Students must be informed of the goals and requirements of each course, the nature of the course content, and the methods of evaluation to be employed.

4.3.5.4 Methods of instruction must be appropriate for students at the specified level of graduate study.

 4.3.5.5 Experimentation with methods to improve instruction must be adequately supported and critically evaluated.

4.3.5.6 The institution must use a variety of means to evaluate student performance.

 4.3.5.7 This evaluation must reflect concern for quality and properly discern levels of student performance.

 4.3.5.8 An institution must publish its grading policies, and its grading practices must be consistent with policy.

 4.3.5.9 Courses offered in non-traditional formats, e.g., concentrated or abbreviated time periods, must be designed to ensure an opportunity for preparation, reflection and analysis concerning the subject matter. At least one calendar week of reflection and analysis should be provided to students for each semester hour, or equivalent quarter hours, of graduate credit awarded.

 4.3.5.10 The institution must demonstrate that students completing these programs or courses have acquired equivalent levels of knowledge and competencies to those acquired in traditional formats.

 4.3.5.11 There must be provision for assigning students to their advisors or directors, appointing their graduate committees, and monitoring their academic progress.

 4.3.5.12 There must be frequent, systematic evaluation of graduate instruction and, if appropriate, revision of the instructional process based on the results of this evaluation. Information gained from the follow up of current or former students is one method of testing the effectiveness of graduate instruction.

 4.3.6 Academic Advising of Graduate Students

4.3.6.1 Each institution must conduct a systematic, effective program of graduate academic advising. A qualified advisor should be assigned early in the student's program and should recognize the individuality of students and their particular needs and goals. Advisors should be proficient in using data to help determine students' major fields of interest, should have access to each advisee's records, and should have appropriate training or background and experience to carry out their responsibilities effectively.

 4.3.6.2 An institution must ensure that the number of advisees assigned to faculty or professional staff is reasonable.

 4.3.6.3 An effective orientation program must be made available to all full- and part-time graduate students.

 4.3.6.4 Orientation and advisement programs must be evaluated regularly and used to enhance effective assistance to students.

 4.4 Publications
 4.4.1 The content and design of publications produced and distributed by an institution must be accurate and consistent in describing the institution and rigorously adhere to principles of good educational practice.

 4.4.2 An institution must make available to students and the public accurate, current catalogs or other official publications containing the following information: entrance requirements and procedures; admissions criteria and policies, including the admission of transfer students; rules of conduct; academic calendar: degree completion requirements; full-time faculty and degrees held; costs and financial obligations; refund policies; and other items relative to attending the institution or withdrawing from it. (See Commission document "Institutional Advertising, Student Recruitment and Representation of Accredited Status.")

 4.5 Distance Learning Programs
 The Commission recognizes the legitimacy of distance learning, such as that conveyed through off-campus classroom programs, external degree programs, branch campuses, correspondence courses, and various programs using electronically-based instruction offered geographically distant from the main campus.

4.5.1 An institution must formulate clear and explicit goals for its distance learning programs and demonstrate that they are consistent with the institution's stated purpose.

 4.5.2 Further, an institution must demonstrate that it achieves these goals and that its distance learning programs are effective and comply with all applicable Criteria.

 4.6 Continuing Education, Outreach and Service Programs
 The demands placed on individuals in today's society require many to engage in life-long education. Most institutions of higher education have incorporated into their purpose an extension and public service component to provide for life-long learning opportunities. These opportunities are often referred to as continuing education, extension education, outreach, or public and community service programs. Such programs may be credit or non-credit, may be offered on or off campus, and may be offered through a variety of delivery systems.

 4.6.1 Continuing education and outreach and service programs must be clearly related to the purpose of the institution. All continuing education programs, both credit and non-credit, must be evaluated regularly.

 4.6.2 All continuing education and outreach and service programs offered for credit must comply with the requirements of the Criteria, and with Section IV in particular.

4.6.3 For non-credit continuing education programs, the institution should follow national guidelines for the recording of Continuing Education Units. (See Commission on Colleges' document C.E.U.: Guidelines and Criteria.)

 4.6.4 For outreach and service programs, an institution must provide the resources and services necessary to support the programs and must evaluate the programs regularly.

 4.6.5 An institution planning to initiate, through continuing education or outreach programs, a degree program must inform the Executive Director of the Commission on Colleges in advance of program implementation. (See Commission document "General Substantive Change Policy for Accredited Institutions.")

 4.6.6 An institution must not award academic credit for work taken on a non-credit basis without appropriate documentation that the non-credit coursework is equivalent to a designated credit experience.

 4.6.7 In such cases, the institution must document that the credit awarded for non-credit coursework represents collegiate coursework relevant to the degree, with course content and level of instruction resulting in student competencies equivalent to those of students in the institution's own degree programs; and coursework taught by faculty members qualified to teach at the appropriate degree level.

 4.6.8 All credit-bearing continuing education courses and activities must comply with the requirements of the Criteria.

 4.7 Student Records
 4.7.1 The institution must have adequate student records for both credit and non-credit courses.

 4.7.2 Official student academic records for credit and non-credit courses should be maintained and stored in one central office at the institution. Complete back-up files, such as facsimiles, microfilm or electronic data banks, should be maintained continually, one set of which should be stored in a secure area outside the records office, preferably in a different building or at an off-site location. The institution must take all steps necessary to ensure the security of its student records, including storage in a secure vault or fireproof cabinet. Since computer generated and stored records present unique security problems, the institution should have in place special security measures to protect and back up the data.

 4.7.3 The institution must have policies concerning what constitutes the permanent record of each student, as well as policies concerning retention and disposal of records.

 4.7.4 It must establish and publish information-release policies which respect the rights of individual privacy, the confidentiality of records, and the best interests of the student and institution.

4.8 Faculty
The selection, development and retention of a competent faculty at all academic levels is of major importance to the educational quality of an institution. The commitment of faculty to institutional purposes determines in large measure the effectiveness of the total educational program.

4.8.0 An institution must provide evidence that it has employed faculty members qualified to accomplish its purpose.

Because of the importance of the faculty, the Commission on Colleges and its committees will give special attention to all criteria pertaining to faculty during institutional evaluations.

4.8.1 Selection of Faculty

4.8.1.1 An institution must show that it has an orderly process for recruiting and appointing its faculty. This process will normally involve developing a pool of qualified candidates and interviewing those who appear to be best qualified. Institutions are encouraged to recruit and select faculty whose highest degree is earned from a broad representation of institutions.

 4.8.1.2 Recruitment and appointment procedures must be described in the faculty handbook or other published documents.

 4.8.1.3 It is expected that an institution will employ faculty members whose highest earned degree presented as the credential qualifying the faculty member to teach at the institution is from a regionally accredited institution.

 4.8.1.4 If an institution employs a faculty member whose highest earned degree is from a non-regionally accredited institution within the United States or an institution outside the United States, the institution must show evidence that the faculty member has appropriate academic preparation.

 4.8.1.5 Institutions must ensure that each faculty member employed is proficient in oral and written communication in the language in which assigned courses will be taught.

 4.8.2 Academic and Professional Preparation

For the purpose of applying the Criteria, a full-time faculty member is one whose major employment is with the institution, whose primary assignment is in teaching and/or research, and whose employment is based on a contract for full-time employees.

Both full-time and part-time faculty must meet the following criteria for academic and professional preparation.

 4.8.2.1 Associate

 4.8.2.1.1 In an associate degree program, full-time and part-time faculty members teaching credit courses in the following areas: humanities/fine arts; social/behavioral sciences; and natural sciences/mathematics must have completed at least 18 graduate semester hours in the teaching discipline and hold at least a master's degree. or hold the minimum of a master's degree with a major in the teaching discipline.

 4.8.2.1.2 In exceptional cases, outstanding professional experience and demonstrated contributions to the teaching discipline may be presented in lieu of formal academic preparation in the above areas. Such cases must be justified by the institution on an individual basis.

 4.8.2.1.3 The Commission encourages interdisciplinary courses and recognizes that appropriate credentials for teaching may vary. The institution must document and justify the academic and professional preparation of faculty members teaching in such courses or programs.

4.8.2.1.4 Each full-time and part-time faculty member teaching courses in professional, occupational and technical areas other than physical activities courses that are components of associate degree programs designed for college transfer, or from which substantial numbers of students transfer to senior institutions, must have completed at least 18 graduate semester hours in the teaching discipline and hold at least a master's degree, or hold the minimum of the master's degree with a major in the teaching discipline.

 4.8.2.1.5 Each full-time and part-time faculty member teaching credit courses in professional, occupational and technical areas that are components of associate degree programs not usually resulting in college transfer, or in the continuation of students in senior institutions, must possess appropriate academic preparation or academic preparation coupled with work experience.

 4.8.2.1.6 The minimum academic degree for faculty teaching in professional, occupational and technical areas must be at the same level at which the faculty member is teaching. The typical combination is a baccalaureate degree with appropriate work experience.

 4.8.2.1.7 In exceptional cases, outstanding professional experience and demonstrated contributions to the teaching discipline may be presented in lieu of forma I academic preparation for faculty members teaching both transfer and non-transfer courses in these areas. Such cases must be justified by the institution on an individual basis.

 4.8.2.1.8 It is the responsibility of the institution to keep on file for all full-time and part-time faculty members documentation of academic preparation, such as official transcripts and, if appropriate for demonstrating competency, official documentation of professional and work experience, technical and performance competency, records of publications, certifications and other qualifications.

 4.8.2.1.9 Non-degree diploma or certificate occupational courses are typically taught by faculty members with some college or specialized training, but with an emphasis on competence gained through work experience. While competency requirements may vary, they should be clearly defined by each institution. In all cases, faculty members must have special competence in the fields in which they teach.

 4.8.2.1.10 It is the responsibility of the institution to keep on file documentation of work experience, certifications and other qualifications if these are to substitute for or supplement formal academic preparation.

 4.8.2.1.11 Faculty members who teach basic computation and communication skills in non-degree occupational programs must have a baccalaureate degree and, ideally, should have work or other experience which helps them relate these skills to the occupational field.

 4.8.2.1.12 Faculty members who teach adult basic education courses below the collegiate level must have a baccalaureate degree, and also should have attributes or experiences which help them relate to the particular needs of the adults they teach.

 4.8.2.1.13 Faculty members who teach in remedial programs must hold a baccalaureate degree in a discipline related to their teaching assignment and have either teaching experience in a discipline related to their assignment or graduate training in remedial education.

 4.8.2.2 Baccalaureate

 4.8.2.2.1 Each full-time and part-time faculty member teaching credit courses leading toward the baccalaureate degree, other than physical education activities courses, must have completed at least 18 graduate semester hours in the teaching discipline and hold at least a master's degree, or hold the minimum of a master's degree with a major in the teaching discipline.

 4.8.2.2.2 In exceptional cases, outstanding professional experience and demonstrated contributions to the teaching discipline may be presented in lieu of formal academic preparation. Such cases must be justified by the institution on an individual basis.

 4.8.2.2.3 The Commission encourages interdisciplinary courses and recognizes that appropriate credentials for teaching may vary. The institution must document and justify the academic and professional preparation of faculty members teaching in such courses or programs.

 4.8.2.2.4 It is the responsibility of the institution to keep on file for all full-time and part-time faculty members documentation of academic preparation, such as official transcripts and, if appropriate for demonstrating competence, official documentation of professional and work experience, technical and performance competency, records of publications, certifications and other qualifications.

 4.8.2.2.5 At least 25 percent of the discipline course hours in each undergraduate major must be taught by faculty members holding the terminal degree, usually the earned doctorate, in that discipline. In some disciplines, the master's degree in the discipline may be considered the terminal degree, such as the M.F.A., the M.S.W., and the M.L.S.; in others, a master's degree in the discipline, coupled with a doctoral degree in a related discipline, is considered appropriate. However, it is the responsibility of the institution to justify the master's degree, or master's in the teaching discipline coupled with a related doctorate, as the terminal degree for faculty members teaching in these disciplines.

 4.8.2.2.6 The above requirement also applies to each major offered through distance learning, including those offered at branches or other sites.

 4.8.2.2.7 Faculty members who teach in remedial programs must hold a baccalaureate degree in a discipline related to their teaching assignment and have either teaching experience in a discipline related to their assignment or graduate training in remedial education.

 4.8.2.3 Graduate

 4.8.2.3.1 Institutions offering either master's or specialist degrees must demonstrate a high level of faculty competence in teaching and scholarship.

 4.8.2.3.2 Institutions offering doctoral degrees must demonstrate the research capability of faculty members teaching in these programs.

 4.8.2.3.3 Eligibility requirements for faculty members teaching graduate courses must be clearly defined and publicized.

 4.8.2.3.4 All institutions must have adequate resources to attract and retain a qualified faculty, especially in the disciplines in which doctoral programs are offered.

 4.8.2.3.5 Faculty members responsible for the direction of doctoral research must be experienced in directing independent study. In addition, those engaged in graduate teaching should demonstrate, by their involvement in institutional activities, their commitment to the academic community, the institution they serve, their students, and their academic disciplines.

 4.8.2.3.6 Each faculty member teaching courses at the master's and specialist degree level must hold the terminal degree, usually the earned doctorate, in the teaching discipline or a related discipline.

 4.8.2.3.7 In some instances, the master's degree in the discipline may be considered the terminal degree, such as the M.F.A., the M.S.W., and the M.L.S.; in others, a master's degree in the discipline coupled with a doctoral degree in a related discipline is considered appropriate. It is the responsibility of the institution to justify the master's degree, or master's in the teaching discipline coupled with a related doctorate, as the terminal degree for faculty members teaching in those disciplines.

 4.8.2.3.8 All faculty members teaching courses at the doctoral degree level must hold the earned doctorate in the teaching discipline or a related discipline.

 4.8.2.3.9 The Commission recognizes that in unusual cases institutions may appropriately include as graduate faculty members those who have demonstrated exceptional scholarly or creative activity, or professional experience, but who may not possess the required academic credentials. There also may be an occasion when a new graduate discipline is in its formative stage in higher education and there are no faculty members available with academic credentials in the discipline. In either case, when an institution presents evidence of competence or academic credentials other than the doctorate in the discipline for its graduate faculty, it must justify the employment of such faculty.

4.8.2.3.10 The Commission encourages interdisciplinary courses and recognizes that appropriate credentials for teaching may vary.

4.8.2.3.11 The institution must document and justify the academic and professional preparation of faculty members teaching in such courses or programs.

4.8.2.3.12 It is the responsibility of the institution to keep on file, for all full-time and part-time faculty members teaching graduate courses, documentation of academic preparation, such as official transcripts and, if appropriate for demonstrating competence, official documentation of professional and work experience, technical and performance competency, records of publications, and certifications and other qualifications.

4.8.2.3.13 An effective graduate program depends on the scholarly interaction of faculty. The appropriate number of faculty members to adequately support a program varies according to discipline and the scope of the program. However, for each graduate degree program, an institution must employ at least four qualified full-time faculty members whose responsibilities include teaching in the program.

4.8.2.3.14 All policies and regulations affecting graduate curricula, as well as requirements leading to graduate credit, certification and degrees, should be formulated by the graduate faculty or an appointed or elected group representing that faculty.

 4.8.2.4 Distance Learning Programs/Activities

 4.8.2.4.1 Institutions offering courses for credit through distance learning activities and programs must meet all criteria related to faculty.

 4.8.2.4.2 Whether through direct contact or other appropriate means, institutions offering distance learning programs must provide students with structured access to and interaction with full-time faculty members.

 4.8.3 Part-Time Faculty

 4.8.3.1 The number of full-time faculty members must be adequate to provide effective teaching, advising and scholarly or creative activity, and be appropriate to participate in curriculum development, policy making, institutional planning and governance.

 4.8.3.2 The employment of part-time faculty members can provide expertise to enhance the educational effectiveness of an institution but the number of part-time faculty members must be properly limited.

 4.8.3.3 Part-time faculty members teaching courses for credit must meet the same requirements for professional. experiential and scholarly preparation as their full-time counterparts teaching in the same disciplines.

 4.8.3.4 Each institution must establish and publish comprehensive policies concerning the employment of part-time faculty members.

 4.8.3.5 It must also provide for appropriate orientation, supervision and evaluation of all part-time faculty members.

 4.8.3.6 Procedures to ensure student access to part-time faculty members must be clearly stated and publicized.

 4.8.4 Graduate Teaching Assistants

 4.8.4.1 The employment of graduate teaching assistants is a well-established practice in higher education, but should be carefully monitored. An institution must avoid heavy dependence on graduate teaching assistants to conduct classroom instruction.

 4.8.4.2 Each institution employing graduate teaching assistants must provide a published set of guidelines for institution-wide graduate assistantship administration, including appointment criteria, remuneration, rights and responsibilities, evaluation and reappointment.

 4.8.4.3 Graduate teaching assistants who have primary responsibility for teaching a course for credit and/or for assigning final grades for such a course, and whose professional and scholarly preparation does not satisfy the provisions of Section 4.8.2 must have earned at least 18 graduate semester hours in their teaching discipline, be under the direct supervision of a faculty member experienced in the teaching discipline, receive regular in-service training and be evaluated regularly.
The above requirements do not apply to graduate teaching assistants engaged in assignments such as assisting in laboratory sessions, teaching physical education activities, attending or helping prepare lectures, grading papers, keeping class records, and conducting discussion groups.

 4.8.4.4 Institutions may appoint graduate teaching assistants for whom English is a second language only when a test of spoken English, or other reliable evidence of the applicant's proficiency in oral and written communication, indicates that the appointment is appropriate.

 4.8.4.5 Institutions employing graduate teaching assistants must provide a structure for administrative oversight at a level above that of the individual academic units to ensure conformity with institutional policies and procedures.

 4.8.5 Faculty Compensation

 4.8.5.1 An institution should provide adequate salaries and benefits to attract and retain able faculty members.

 4.8.5.2 The institution should also provide a retirement plan, to which it contributes a reasonable percentage of the cost, and a plan for adequate insurance coverage.

 4.8.5.3 Salary increases must be based on clearly stated criteria.

 4.8.6 Academic Freedom and Professional Security

 4.8.6.1 Faculty and students must be free to examine all pertinent data, question assumptions, be guided by the evidence of scholarly research, and teach and study the substance of a given discipline. Institutions may endorse particular religious or philosophical beliefs, or specific social principles as they relate to the institutional statement of purpose. Such beliefs and principles may influence the curriculum and the selection of students, faculty and staff. Nevertheless, institutions of higher education exist to further the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge.

 4.8.6.2 An institution must adopt and distribute to all faculty members a statement of the principles of academic freedom as established by the governing board, ensuring freedom in teaching, research and publication.

 4.8.6.3 Institutional policies must set forth the requirement for faculty members to carry out their duties in a professional, ethical and collegial manner that enhances the purpose of the institution.

4.8.6.4 Although tenure policy is not mandated, each institution must provide contracts, letters of appointment, or similar documents to faculty members clearly describing the terms and conditions of their employment.

 4.8.6.5 All policies regarding employment, as established by the governing board, must be published and distributed to the faculty.

 4.8.6.6 If the institution uses faculty ranks and tenure, the policies and procedures for promotion, for awarding tenure, for providing adequate notice on non-renewal of a probationary appointment, and for termination of appointments, including those for cause, must be clearly set forth in the faculty handbook or other official publication.

 4.8.6.7 Termination and non-renewal procedures must contain adequate safeguards for protection of academic freedom.

 4.8.7 Professional Growth

 4.8.7.1 An institution must provide faculty members the opportunity to continue their professional development throughout their careers and must demonstrate that such development occurs. Among the means of accomplishing this goal are leaves of absence for study and research, additional graduate work in the discipline, participation in professional meetings, and in-service training such as instruction in computer usage.

 4.8.7.2 The general tone and policies of an institution must make it clear that individual faculty members are to take the initiative in promoting their own growth as teachers, scholars and, especially in professional and occupational fields, practitioners.

 4.8.8 The Role of the Faculty and Its Committees

 4.8.8.1 Primary responsibility for the quality of the educational program must reside with the faculty.

 4.8.8.2 The extent of the participation and jurisdiction of the faculty in academic affairs must be clearly set forth and published. Much of their business will normally be conducted through such structures as committees, councils, and senates, operating within the broad policies determined by the administration and governing board.

 4.8.9 Faculty Loads

 4.8.9.1 An institution must provide a faculty of adequate size to support its purpose.

 4.8.9.2 It must have procedures for the equitable and reasonable assignment of faculty responsibilities including classroom instruction, academic advising, committee membership, guidance of student organizations, and research and service to the public. The institution should have policies to protect faculty members from assuming or being assigned internal or external responsibilities which might encroach upon the quality or the quantity of the work they are employed to perform for the institution. The calculation of instructional loads should take into account such factors as number of preparations, number of students taught, nature of the subject, and help available from secretaries and teaching assistants.

 4.8.10 Criteria and Procedures for Evaluation

 4.8.10.1 An institution must conduct periodic evaluations of the performance of individual faculty members.

 4.8.10.2 The evaluation must include a statement of the criteria against which the performance of each faculty member will be measured.

 4.8.10.3 The criteria must be consistent with the purpose and goals of the institution and be made known to all concerned.

 4.8.10.4 The institution must demonstrate that it uses the results of this evaluation for improvement of the faculty and its educational program.

4.9 Consortial Relationships and Contractual Agreements
The Commission on Colleges recognizes the right of a member institution to enter into consortial relationships and contractual agreements for the purpose of offering credit courses or programs. However, the Commission reserves the right to prohibit the use of its accreditation to authenticate credit courses or programs offered through such relationships.

 4.9.0.1 A member institution which enters into such consortial relationships or contractual agreements must have sufficient control of relationships/agreements so as to maintain compliance with the Criteria when offering educational programs through such arrangements.

 4.9.0.2 All consortia and contracts must be evaluated regularly.

 4.9.0.3 If an institution plans to participate in consortial relationships or enter into contractual agreements for educational programs, it must follow reporting policies and procedures related to substantive change. (See Commission document "Substantive Change Procedure D: The Initiation of a Consortium or Contractual Arrangements.")

 4.9.1 Consortial Relationships

 4.9.1.1 A member institution seeking to participate in a consortium degree or certificate program must enter into such a relationship only with regionally accredited institutions offering degrees or certificates at the same level.

 4.9.1.2 Exceptions must be approved by the Commission in advance of the formation of or participation in the consortium.

 4.9.1.3 The member institution must maintain the quality of all courses/programs offered through the consortium.

 4.9.1.4 Educational courses/programs offered through a consortial relationship must be related to the teaching purpose of the institution and comply with the Criteria.

 4.9.2 Contractual Agreements

 4.9.2.1 Educational services and programs offered through a contractual agreement with another institution or organization must support the purpose of the institution.

 4.9.2.2 The member institution must maintain the quality of programs/courses offered through the contract and ensure ongoing compliance with the Criteria. (See Commission document "Guidelines for Contractual Relationships with Non-Regionally Accredited Institutions.")

 4.9.2.3 If an institution enters into a teach-out agreement with another institution, it must submit the agreement to the Commission for approval. (See Commission policy "Teach-Out Agreements.")

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