Accreditation

3.1.1 The mission statement is current and comprehensive, accurately guides the institution’s operations, is periodically reviewed and updated, is approved by the governing board, and is communicated to the institution’s constituencies. (Mission)

3.2.1 The governing board of the institution is responsible for the selection and the periodic evaluation of the chief executive officer. (CEO Evaluation/Selection)

3.2.2 The legal authority and operating control of the institution are clearly defined for the following areas within the institution’s governance structure: (Governing Board Control)

3.2.2.1 institution’s mission;

3.2.2.2 fiscal stability of the institution; and

3.2.2.3 institutional policy.

3.2.3 The governing board has a policy addressing conflict of interest for its members. (Board Conflict of Interest)

3.2.4 The governing board is free from undue influence from political, religious, or other external bodies and protects the institution from such influence. (External Influence)

3.2.5 The governing board has a policy whereby members can be dismissed only for appropriate reasons and by a fair process. (Board Dismissal)

3.2.6 There is a clear and appropriate distinction, in writing and practice, between the policy-making functions of the governing board and the responsibility of the administration and faculty to administer and implement policy. (Board/Administration Distinction)

3.2.7 The institution has a clearly defined and published organizational structure that delineates responsibility for the administration of policies (Organizational Structure)

3.2.8 The institution has qualified administrative and academic officers with the experience and competence to lead the institution. (Qualified Administrative/Academic Officers)

3.2.9 The institution publishes polices regarding appointment, employment, and evaluation of all personnel. (Personnel Appointment)

3.2.10 The institution periodically evaluates the effectiveness of its administrators (Administrative Staff Evaluations)

3.2.11 The institution’s chief executive officer has ultimate responsibility for, and exercises appropriate administrative and fiscal control over, the institution’s intercollegiate athletics program. (Control of Intercollegiate Athletics)

3.2.12 The institution demonstrates that its chief executive officer controls the institution’s fund-raising activities (Fund-raising Activities)

2.2.13 For any entity organized separately from the institution and formed primarily for the purpose of supporting the institution or its programs, (1) the legal authority and operating control of the institution is clearly defined with respect to that entity; (2) the relationship of that entity to the institution and the extent of any liability arising out of that relationship is clearly described in a formal, written manner; and (3) the institution demonstrates that (a) the chief executive officer controls any fund-raising activities of that entity or (b) the fund-raising activities of that entity are defined in a formal, written manner which assures that those activities further the mission of the institution. (Institution-Related Entities)

3.2.14 The institution’s policies are clear concerning ownership of materials, compensation, copyright issues, and the use of revenue derived from the creation of production of all intellectual property. These policies apply to students, faculty, and staff. (Intellectual Property Rights)

3.3.1 The institution identifies expected outcomes, assesses the extent to which it achieves these outcomes, and provides evidence of improvement based on analysis of the results in each of the following areas: (Institutional Effectiveness)

3.3.1.1 educational programs, to include student learning outcomes

3.3.1.2 administrative support services

3.3.1.3 academic and student support services

3.3.1.4 research within its mission, if appropriate

3.3.1.5 community/public service within its mission, if appropriate

3.3.2 The institution has developed a Quality Enhancement Plan that (1) demonstrate institutional capability for the initiation, implementation, and completion of the QEP; (2) includes broad-based involvement of institutional constituencies in the development and proposed implementation of the QEP; and (3) identifies goals and a plan to assess their achievement. (Quality Enhancement Plan) (Note: This requirement is not addressed by the institution in its Compliance Certification)

3.4.1 The institution demonstrates that each educational program for which academic credit is awarded is approved by the faculty and the administration. (Academic Program Approval)

3.4.2 The institution’s continuing education, outreach, and service programs are consistent with the institution’s mission. (Continuing Education/Service Programs)

3.4.3 The institution publishes admissions policies that are consistent with its mission. (Admissions Policies)

3.4.4 The institution publishes policies that include criteria for evaluating, awarding, and accepting credit for transfer, experiential learning, credit by examination, Advanced Placement, and professional certificates that is consistent with its mission and ensures that course work and learning outcomes are at the collegiate level and comparable to the institution’s own degree programs. The institution assumes responsibility for the academic quality of any course work or credit recorded on the institution’s transcript. (See Commission policy “Collaborative Academic Arrangements.” )(Acceptance of Academic Credit)

3.4.5 The institution publishes academic policies that adhere to principles of good educational practice. These polices are disseminated to students, faculty, and other interested parties through publications that accurately represent the programs and services of the institution. (Academic Policies)

3.4.6 The institution employs sound and acceptable practices for determining the amount and level of credit awarded for courses, regardless of format or mode of delivery. (Practices for Awarding Credit)

3.4.7 The institution ensures the quality of educational programs and courses offered through consortial relationships or contractual agreements, ensures ongoing compliance with Principles, and periodically evaluates the consortial relationship and/or agreement against the mission of the institution. (Consortial Relationships/Contractual Agreements)

3.4.8 The institution awards academic credit for course work taken on a noncredit basis only when there is documentation that the noncredit course work is equivalent to a designated credit experience. (Noncredit to Credit)

3.4.9 The institution provides appropriate academic support services. (Academic Support Services)

3.4.10 The institution places primary responsibility for the content, quality, and effectiveness of the curriculum with its faculty. (Responsibility for Curriculum)

3.4.11 For each major in a degree program, the institution assigns responsibility for program coordination, as well as curriculum development and review, to persons academically qualified in the field. In those degree programs for which the institution does not identify a major, this requirement applies to a curricular area of concentration. (Academic Program Coordination)

3.4.12 The institution’s use of technology enhances student learning and is appropriate for meeting the objectives of its programs. Students have access to and training in the use of technology. (Technology Use)

3.5.1 The institution identifies college-level general education competencies and the extent to which students have attained them (General education competencies)

3.5.2 At least 25 percent of the credit hours required for the degree are earned through instruction offered by the institution awarding the degree. (See Commission policy “Collaborative Academic Arrangements.”) (Institutional Credits for a Degree)

3.5.3 The institution publishes requirements for its undergraduate programs, including its general education components. These requirements conform to commonly accepted standards and practices for degree programs. (See Commission policy “The Quality and Integrity of Undergraduate Degrees.”) (Undergraduate Program Requirements)

3.5.4 At least 25 percent of the course hours in each major at the baccalaureate level are taught by faculty members holding an appropriate terminal degree – usually earned doctorate or the equivalent of the terminal degree. (Terminal Degrees of Faculty)

3.6.1 The institution’s post-baccalaureate professional degree programs, master’s and doctoral degree programs, are progressively more advanced in academic content than its undergraduate programs. (Post-baccalaureate Program Rigor)

3.6.2 The institution structures its graduate curricula (1) to include knowledge of the literature of the discipline and (2) to ensure ongoing student engagement in research and/or appropriate professional practice and training experiences. (Graduate Curriculum)

3.6.3 At least one-third of the credits toward a graduate or a post-baccalaureate professional degree are earned through instruction offered by the institution awarding the degree. (See Commission policy on “Collaborative Academic Arrangements.”) (Institutional Credits for a Graduate Degree)

3.6.4 The institution defines and publishes requirements for its graduate and post-baccalaureate professional programs. These requirements conform to commonly accepted standards and practices for degree programs. (Post-baccalaureate Program Requirements)

3.7.1 The institution employs competent faculty members qualified to accomplish the mission and goals of the institution. When determining acceptable qualifications of its faculty, an institution gives primary consideration to the highest earned degree in the discipline. The institution also considers competence, effectiveness, and capacity, including as appropriate, undergraduate and graduate degrees, related work experiences in the field, professional licensure and certifications, honors and awards, continuous documented excellence in teaching, or other demonstrated competencies and achievements that contribute to effective teaching and student learning outcomes. For all cases, the institution is responsible for justifying and documenting the qualifications of its faculty. (See Commission guidelines “Faculty credentials.”) (Faculty Competence)

3.7.2 The institution regularly evaluates the effectiveness of each faculty member in accord with published criteria, regardless of contractual or tenured status. (Faculty Evaluation)

3.7.3 The institution provides ongoing professional development of faculty as teachers, scholars, and practitioners. (Faculty Development)

3.7.4 The institution ensures adequate procedures for safeguarding and protecting academic freedom. (Academic Freedom)

3.7.5 The institution publishes polices on the responsibility and authority of faculty in academic and governance matters. (Faculty Role in Governance)

3.8.1 The institution provides facilities and learning/information resources that are appropriate to support teaching, research, and service mission. (Learning/Information Resources)

3.8.2 The institution ensures that users have access to regular and timely instruction in the use of the library and other learning/information resources. (Instruction of Library Use)

3.8.3 The institution provides a sufficient number of qualified staff – with appropriate education or experiences in library and/or other learning/information resources – to accomplish the mission of the institution. (Qualified Staff)

3.9.1 The institution publishes a clear and appropriate statement of student rights and responsibilities and disseminates the statement to the campus community. (Student Rights)

3.9.2 The institution protects the security, confidentiality, and integrity of student records and maintains security measures to protect and back up data. (Student Records)

3.9.3 The institution provides a sufficient number of qualified staff – with appropriate education or experience in the student affairs area – to accomplish the mission of the institution. (Qualified Staff)

3.10.1 The institution’s recent financial history demonstrates financial stability. (Financial Stability)

3.10.2 The institution audits financial aid programs as required by federal and state regulations. (Financial Aid Audits)

3.10.3 The institution exercises appropriate control over all its financial resources. (Control of finances)

3.10.4 The institution maintains financial control over externally funded or sponsored research programs. (Control of Sponsored Research/External Funds)

3.11.1 The institution exercise appropriate control over all its physical resources. (Control of Physical Resources)

3.11.2 The institution takes reasonable steps to provide a healthy, safe, and secure environment for all members of the campus community. (Institutional Environment)

3.11.3 The institution operates and maintains physical facilities, both on and off campus, that appropriately serve the needs of the institution’s educational programs, support services, and other mission-related activities (Physical Facilities)

3.12.1 The institution notifies the Commission of changes in accordance with the Commission’s substantive change policy and, when required, seeks approval prior to the initiation of changes. (Substantive Change)

3.13 The institution complies with the policies of the Commission of Colleges. (Policy Compliance)

3.13.1. Any institution seeking or holding accreditation from more than one U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting body must describe itself in identical terms to each recognized accrediting body with regard to purpose, governance, programs, degrees, diplomas, certificates, personnel, finances, and constituencies, and must keep each institutional accrediting body apprised of any change in its status with one or another accrediting body. (Accrediting Decisions of Other Agencies)

3.13.2. Member institutions are responsible for notifying and providing SACSCOC with signed final copies of agreements governing their collaborative academic arrangements (as defined in this policy).  These arrangements must address the requirements set forth in the collaborative academic arrangements policy and procedures.  For all such arrangements, SACSCOC-accredited institutions assume responsibility for (1) the integrity of the collaborative academic arrangements, (2) the quality of credits recorded on their transcripts, and (3) compliance with accreditation requirements. (Collaborative Academic Arrangements)

3.13.3. Each institution is required to have in place student complaint policies and procedures that are reasonable, fairly administered, and well-publicized. (See FR 4.5). The Commission also requires, in accord with federal regulations, that each institution maintains a record of complaints received by the institution.  This record is made available to the Commission upon request. This record will be reviewed and evaluated by the Commission as part of the institution’s decennial evaluation. (Complaint Procedures against the Commission or Its Accredited Institutions)

3.13.4. Reaffirmation of Accreditation and Subsequent Reports

3.13.4.a. An institution includes a review of its distance learning programs in the Compliance Certification. 

3.13.4.b. If an institution is part of a system or corporate structure, a description of the system operation (or corporate structure) is submitted as part of the Compliance Certification for the decennial review. The description should be designed to help members of the peer review committees understand the mission, governance, and operating procedures of the system and the individual institution’s role within that system.

3.13.5.   Separate Accreditation for Units of a Member Institution

3.13.5.a. All branch campuses related to the parent campus through corporate or administrative control (1) include the name of the parent campus and make it clear that its accreditation is dependent on the continued accreditation of the parent campus and (2) are evaluated during reviews for institutions seeking candidacy, initial membership, or reaffirmation of accreditation.  All other extended units under the accreditation of the parent campus are also evaluated during such reviews.

3.13.5.b. If the Commission on Colleges determines that an extended unit is autonomous to the extent that the control over that unit by the parent or its board is significantly impaired, the Commission may direct that the extended unit seek to become a separately accredited institution. A unit which seeks separate accreditation should bear a different name from that of the parent.  A unit which is located in a state or country outside the geographic jurisdiction of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and which the Commission determines should be separately accredited or the institution requests to be separately accredited, applies for separate accreditation from the regional accrediting association that accredits colleges in that state or country.

3.14.1 A member or candidate institution represents its accredited status accurately and publishes the name, address, and telephone number of the Commission in accordance with Commission requirements and federal policy. (Publication of Accreditation Status)