Commencement is coming up in a few months, and lots of you will be walking away with a brand new degree, ready to get a good job that your new credentials qualify you for. But why is your degree worth what it is? Why do employers have confidence that a degree means you’ll be a great employee?
Recently, we were visited by accreditors examining our upcoming Masters program for Public Administration. These are like ‘quality inspectors’ who make sure we’re doing what we say we’re doing, and that our program measures up to standards acceptable to the U.S. Department of Education. Our accreditors are chosen by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools from other colleges, and they diligently review our campus, talking with everyone that helps deliver the program and examining all of our documents, procedures, and outcomes. The HLC oversees more than a thousand colleges.
But it’s not just individual departments and programs that are examined and accredited – the whole school is every few years, too. In 2011, IU East received a ten year reaccreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, and we’ve recently completed our mid cycle evaluation in 2016. We’ve been continuously accredited since the college’s founding in 1971 (although our very first accreditation process was a little rocky). IU Bloomington just finished their most recent reaccreditation in 2017.
In preparation for this undertaking, people from every department in the university conduct and write an exhaustive self-study and prepare loads of documentation, demonstrating how we meet the standards, what our strengths and weaknesses are, and how we plan to improve. It’s a lot of hard work, but you know what that’s like – you’ve done plenty of research projects and papers, and have lots of experience with carefully preparing homework. This is like homework for us!
When the HLC team comes, they go over everything with a fine-toothed comb, making sure we rigorously prepare you and provide everything a college should to produce high-quality thinkers and scholars as graduates. It’s like when your professor meticulously checks your references on a particularly important paper. And just like you, we take getting a good ‘grade’ seriously. After all, the integrity of the college, and the value of your own degree, depends on it! So rest assured, the degree you earn will be worth it, because we do our homework, too!
If you want to learn more about accreditation and what makes your degree strong, we have books like Accreditation, certification, and credentialing: relevant concerns for U.S. evaluators available, and the HLC standards for accreditation can be found here. Or you can ask us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more help!