The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) is one of six voluntary, non-governmental, membership associations that accredits degree-granting colleges and universities. MSCHE primarily accredits schools in the Mid-Atlantic region as well as in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and a few international locations.
The U.S. Department of Education governs the nation’s accreditors, who themselves are subject to periodic re-certification. Institutional accreditation is required in order to disperse Title IV aid, a provision of the Higher Education Act of 1965 that governs the administration of federal student financial aid funds. Without accreditation, these funds are not available to BCC’s students, effectively causing the College to cease operations.
Middle States accredits colleges and universities for eight years. BCC was most recently reaccredited in 2019 and is up for renewal again in 2027. Accreditation requires institutions to engage in self-study and review by peer evaluators during a culminating site visit that usually lasts three days. Ultimately, it is the Commission, made up of higher education officials, who decide on whether or not to re-accredit an institution.
Designing, preparing, and writing the self-study is typically a two-year process. Its purpose is to not only demonstrate that the institution meets the Commission’s expectations but it also serves as a vehicle for self-reflection that will hopefully serve the institution well for many years after the self-study and on-site evaluation visit are completed. MSCHE’s expectations are articulated in the Standards of Accreditation and Requirements of Affiliation (14th ed.). Accredited institutions are expected to demonstrate compliance with these standards and requirements, to conduct their activities in a manner consistent with them, and to engage in ongoing processes of self-review and improvement.
Assessment is a key component of MSCHE Standards. In fact, assessment is mentioned in all seven of the Commission’s standards. However, it is in Standard V, Educational Effectiveness Assessment, where assessment is most explicitly articulated. Standard V states:
“Assessment of student learning and achievement demonstrates that the institution’s students have accomplished educational goals consistent with their program of study, degree level, the institution’s mission, and appropriate expectations for institutions of higher education.”
Standard V is further defined by the following five criteria:
- Clearly stated educational goals (i.e., expected outcomes) at the institution and degree/program levels, which are interrelated with one another, with relevant educational experiences and with the institution’s mission,
- organized and systematic assessments, conducted by faculty and/or appropriate professionals, evaluating the extent of student achievement of institutional and degree/ program goals.
- consideration and use of assessment results for the improvement of educational effectiveness.
- if applicable, adequate and appropriate institutional review and approval of assessment services designed, delivered, or assessed by third-party providers; and
- periodic assessment of the effectiveness of assessment processes utilized by the institution for the improvement of educational effectiveness.
Specialized or programmatic accreditation is a distinction earned by programs that have undergone a comprehensive process to assess the quality of their programs. Students enrolling in programs that have earned external accreditation can be confident that the curriculum prepares them to enter and thrive in a professional environment and ensures their education will be respected by future educators and employers. Credits earned in an accredited program also enhance the likelihood that those credits will be accepted at another institution.
Below is a list of BCC’s accredited programs along with the dates of the last accreditation decision and the program’s next site visit. Clicking on the links will bring users to the program’s respective agencies’ websites, where additional information about their standards can be found.