The Standards for Accreditation are an articulation by the higher education community of what a college or university must do in order to deserve the public trust. They also function as a framework for institutional development and self-evaluation.

Covering areas of institutional academic and administrative operations, the Standards are largely qualitative, in keeping with their need to apply to a variety of institutions with different missions.

The Standards are fully updated at least every ten years, with the participation of member institutions, to reflect the Commission’s heightened emphases and to anticipate future directions of the higher education community. At the five-year point in that cycle, they undergo a mid-course revision, with changes and clarifications based on the experience of institutions and the Commission in using the Standards. The most recent mid-course revision occurred in 2011.

In January 2016, the Commission concluded a two-year process to revise the 2011 Standards. The new Standards were adopted on January 14, 2016 and will be effective on July 1, 2016.