What is accreditation?

According to a 2008 report issued by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, Profile of Accreditation, the major types of accrediting organizations are institutional and programmatic as described below:


  • "Regional: Regional accreditors operate in six specific clusters of states (regions) in the United States, and review entire institutions, 96.8 percent or more of which are both degree-granting and nonprofit. There are 3,025 regionally accredited institutions."
  • "National Faith-Related: National faith-related accreditors operate nationally and review religiously- affiliated or doctrinally-based institutions, most of which are degree-granting and non-profit. There are 449 faith-related accredited institutions."
  • "National Career-Related: National career-related accreditors operate throughout the country and review entire institutions, 28.9 percent of which are degree-granting and 71.0 percent are non-degree-granting; 10.3 percent are non-profit and 89.6 percent are for-profit. There are 3,532 private career institutions. Many are single-purpose institutions focusing on, e.g., education in business and information technology."


  • "Programmatic: Programmatic accreditors operate throughout the country and review programs and some single-purpose institutions. There are 19,453 accredited programs."

Institutional accreditation

Campuses as a whole seek institutional accreditation from an regional or national accrediting organization. These organizations are voluntary associations of schools; the schools all pay membership dues and share in the governance of the accreditor. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a member of the Higher Learning Commission (known prior to 2014 as the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools). HLC members include schools from 19 states, from roughly Ohio to Colorado and from Minnesota to Arizona.

Who handles institutional accreditation at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign?

The Office of the Provost is responsible for ensuring compliance with HLC rules and maintains a website on accreditation, which includes the university’s current affiliation status. That office also maintains a guide to levels of governance detailing what kinds of approvals are needed for certain changes in order to comply with UI Statutes, Illinois Board of Higher Education rules, and HLC rules.

Benefits of institutional accreditation

  • Many postsecondary institutions accept transfer credit only from accredited institutions
  • Many graduate or professional schools will admit only students who graduated from an accredited college or university.
  • The US Department of Education limits federal financial aid (e.g. Pell grants and federal student loans) to students enrolled in institutions that are accredited by one of the nationally recognized accreditors listed on the Dept of Ed website.
  • The State of Illinois limits MAP grants and other forms of state financial aid to students at accredited institutions.
  • All universities can benefit from a periodic self-examination accompanied by review and comments from experts outside the institution.

Accreditation standards and processes

HLC lists its current criteria for accreditation on its website. Institutions are typically reviewed in depth every 10 years following an intensive self-study and a site visit by a team of accreditors. (This process is under review by HLC and may change). In between the site visits, HLC requires an annual data update and monitors significant changes at each institution.

The federal Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 mandated additional requirements for oversight by Department of Education - recognized accreditors. In part because of that act, and to ensure that members are maintaining standards, the HLC now requires approval in advance for some kinds of institutional changes. For other changes, HLC requires notification after the fact. Below are documents outlining the approval processes recently instituted by HLC.

Recent Illinois Institutional Accreditation information

2009 Accreditation Visit - October 12-16, 2009

1999 Accreditation Visit

Annual data updates

Each year, the campus submits responses to a set of queries from the HLC. Starting in 2004, Management Information was assigned responsibility for collating and submitting the information. In 2008, HLC split its data request into two parts, one related to Student data and one related to Financial data. The Office of Business and Financial Affairs now completes the Financial data section. Copies of the submitted information are below. (Note: Formats have changed over the years and some of the links in the pages below may be out of date).

2004 Student & Financial
2005 Student & Financial
2006 Student & Financial
2007 Student & Financial
2008 Student     Financial
2009 Student     Financial
2010 Student     Financial
2011 Student     Financial
2012 Student     Financial
2013 Student     Financial
2014 Combined - Student & Financial     
2015 Combined - Student & Financial     
2016 Combined - Student & Financial     
2017 Combined - Student & Financial     
2018 Combined - Student & Financial
2019 Combined - Student & Financial

Specialized Unit or program accreditation

Some academic disciplines, especially those that are professional or pre-professional, have national accrediting bodies who monitor and accredit individual participating programs. Admissions to graduate schools and candidacy for licenses or other professional certifications may be limited to students who graduate from an accredited program.

In addition, various national professional organizations oversee accreditation bodies to ensure that standards in the professions are maintained. For example, museums may seek accreditation by the American Association of Museums; many museums will not loan materials to any museum not so accredited.

Unit/Program Accreditations for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (pdf format):

2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019

updated 7/24/2017