Accreditation recognizes that the college meets or exceeds the standards and expectations established by the accreditation agency. Northland Pioneer College is a fully accredited community college by the Higher Learning Commission, 230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500, Chicago, IL 60604 • (800) 621-7440. NPC has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since October 1979.
What is accreditation and the Higher Learning Commission?
Accreditation is a process through which educational institutions demonstrate their commitment and practices in meeting certain quality standards established by an external entity. It assures the public that the educational institution is operating effectively in fulfilling its mission via its operations and activities in teaching and student learning, as well as the promotion of knowledge and services. The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is NPC’s institutional accrediting agency. For more information, visit the HLC website.
Why is accreditation important to NPC?
1. NPC must be accredited to provide federal financial aid to our students.
2. Accreditation assures and improves quality in higher education.
3. Accreditation helps students wishing to transfer credits to other colleges/universities.
4. Employers frequently verify the accreditation status of any degree‐granting institutions before offering jobs to new graduates.
How does NPC maintain its accredited status?
To maintain its accredited status, NPC participates in the Open Pathway option with the HLC.
The Open Pathway follows a 10-year cycle with a focus on demonstrating educational quality assurance and institutional improvement. During this 10-year period, NPC completes the following HLC activities: annual reporting, an assurance review at Year 4, a Quality Initiative from Year 5 through Year 9, and a comprehensive evaluation at Year 10.
Every year, NPC submits the annual Institutional Update to HLC as part of the regular monitoring process from the College’s institutional accreditor. At Year 4 of the 10-year cycle, NPC completes an online assurance review as a “mid-point check-in” to demonstrate that the College continues to meet HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation. Starting at Year 5, NPC develops and implements a Quality Initiative.
At Year 10, NPC undergoes a comprehensive evaluation process with HLC. This comprehensive evaluation process involves the submission of an assurance argument and evidence files, as well as onsite observations and interviews by HLC peer reviewers. The goal of this comprehensive evaluation is to ensure that NPC is meeting the Criteria for Accreditation and complying with certain requirements set by the U.S. Department of Education. At the end of this evaluation, NPC receives an action from HLC’s Institutional Action Council regarding the reaffirmation of the College’s accreditation. See a detailed description of the 10-year Open Pathway process.
When was NPC’s last comprehensive evaluation? What are HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation?
NPC went through the comprehensive evaluation process with HLC in November 2019. The five Criteria for Accreditation are:
- Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct
- Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support
- Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement
- Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness
Click here for details about the Criteria for Accreditation.
Does NPC receive continued accreditation status based on its last comprehensive evaluation?
Yes, NPC received a full ten-year renewal of its accreditation status with the Higher Learning Commission, with a monitoring report on integrated strategic planning due by December 17, 2021.
In September 2019, NPC submitted its assurance argument to HLC. HLC assigned a group of four peer reviewers to review the argument and the supporting evidence files. In November 2019, this group of reviewers conducted its one and a half-day visit with NPC’s district governing board, administration, faculty, staff, students, and community partners. In January 2020, the reviewers submitted a final report to HLC’s Institutional Action Council (IAC) for the final accreditation decision.
In March 2020, NPC received a letter from IAC with the following decisions:
- Action with Interim Monitoring. IAC continued the accreditation of Northland Pioneer College with the next Reaffirmation of Accreditation in 2029-30. In conjunction with this action, IAC required the following interim monitoring.
- Interim Report. An Interim Report due 12/17/21 on strategic and integrated planning.
Interim monitoring gives NPC an opportunity to focus on specific areas identified by HLC to pursue institutional improvement.
What are some highlights from the final report?
The HLC peer reviewers described their visit as a positive experience and recognized the value NPC provides to its students and communities. They stated that NPC uses its resources wisely and anticipates environmental changes to effectively provide quality educational programs and valued student services. They also affirmed that the College lives its mission and demonstrates an unwavering support of student success.
The reviewers also noted some recommended areas for improvement for NPC. These include naming the service area/communities in the NPC mission statement; continuing to attract diverse faculty and staff; developing an assessment framework and plan for co-curricular activities; and developing a program review process for non-academic areas.
- See the final report.
What is NPC’s current plan to prepare for the interim monitoring report?
In January 2020, President Vest met with Director Jeremy Raisor of Enrollment Services and Director Dr. Judy Yip-Reyes of Institutional Effectiveness to draft a proposed framework to begin the College’s work on integrated strategic planning. The framework was submitted to the Leadership Council for discussion in March and April, and was approved in April 2020 provisionally as a 30,000-foot level guide for all the departments to participate in the planning process. This guide will be reviewed, revised, and updated regularly as the College is also adopting various major change initiatives (e.g., creation of the new Instructional Innovation Division). President Vest had this planning framework with the District Governing Board in its May 2020 meeting.
In June and July of 2020, the Leadership Council reviewed the current College’s vision statement and engaged in a revision process. The Council shared the draft mission, value, and vision with the entire college at the August 2020 Convocation. In fall 2020, the Council invited college-wide input and feedback from external stakeholders via the use of Qualtrics surveys and Padlet. Under the leadership of our Interim President Swarthout, the Council presented a final version of the revised mission, value, and vision to the District Governing Board at its January 2021 meeting. The Board approved and adopted the revised mission, value, and vision statements in January 2021. In spring 2021, the Council has been collecting college input in identifying strategic direction and has designated a seven-member Strategic Planning Task Force to develop vision-centered strategic goals for the college.
Who I should contact for questions related to HLC and accreditation?
HLC Accreditation Liaison Officer:
Judy Yip-Reyes, Ph.D.
Director of Institutional Effectiveness
Also see NPC's other program specific accreditation/licensing agencies.
Northland Pioneer College has been approved to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements.
Northland Pioneer College
PO Box 610
Holbrook, AZ 86025