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Access PSC’s Accreditation Handbook here.

Accreditation Handbook & Materials

PSC’s Accreditation Handbook is designed to ensure institutions and other stakeholders understand its Accreditation Standards, policies, and procedures. PSC accredits institutions that generate strong economic returns for their students. Institutions that share PSC’s commitment to economic outcomes can be good candidates for accreditation with PSC. To be a good candidate for accreditation with PSC, an institution should also share PSC’s interest in accountability, transparency, and innovation.  

PSC will continue to update and extend its Accreditation Handbook over the next two years as it learns from its pilot partners, public comment and higher education experts. Learn more about this process here. The current version of the Handbook is always available here on the PSC website. 

To download the Accreditation Handbook in full, click here.

A. Handbook Introduction

This introduction includes an overview of PSC, its mission, and the distinguishing characteristics of its accreditation model.

A. PSC’s Accreditation Standards

PSC’s Accreditation Standards are the core criteria against which institutions are evaluated when seeking PSC accreditation. When an institution meets PSC’s Accreditation Standards, students, the public, and other stakeholders can be assured the institution has been vetted for its ability to provide quality higher education and produce strong economic returns for students. 

A. Overview of the PSC Accreditation Process

PSC follows a formal process for considering institutions’ applications and subsequently for granting initial accreditation and accreditation renewal. This document outlines the steps and requirements for institutions interested in becoming accredited by PSC.

B. Application for Initial Accreditation

Prior to seeking accreditation with the PSC, an institution must submit an Application for Initial Accreditation. This document includes an overview of the application contents and process. 

C. Initial Accreditation

Initial accreditation represents the first time an institution is granted accreditation by PSC. The initial accreditation period lasts a maximum of 5 years.

D. Renewal of Accreditation

Institutions must renew accreditation with PSC every seven years. This document outlines the policies and procedures associated with accreditation renewal.

E. Self-Study, On-Site Visit, and Peer Evaluators

Institutions must complete a Self-Study and On-Site Visit during all accreditation reviews. This document details PSC’s policies and procedures related to the Self-Study, On-Site Visit, and peer evaluators.

A. Annual Audit

The purpose of the Annual Audit is to monitor institutional quality and identify institutions that may be at risk of not meeting PSC’s Accreditation Standards, policies, or procedures. This document details PSC’s Annual Audit requirements for institutions.

B. Special Audits

The Special Audit is a tool to probe on a specific area when PSC believes an institution may be out of compliance with its Accreditation Standards, policies, or procedures. This document details PSC’s policies and procedures for Special Audits.

A. Commission Actions

This document outlines the possible actions the Commission may take related to an institution’s accreditation status.

B. Appeals

This document details the circumstances under which an institution may appeal a decision made by the PSC Commission and the process it must follow to do so.

C. Binding Arbitration

Institutions that choose to dispute a Commission decision beyond the appeals process may do so only via binding arbitration. This document outlines PSC’s policies and procedures related to this process.

D. Pursuing PSC Accreditation Following Denial or Withdrawal

This document explains when institutions can pursue accreditation again after denial or withdrawal of accreditation by the PSC Commission.

E. Accreditation Record Retention

PSC maintains accreditation records as required by law and applicable regulations. This document outlines PSC’s retention of documents received or generated when conducting accreditation activities.

F. Notification of Accreditation Decisions, Information Sharing, and Public Disclosures

This document details PSC’s policies and procedures related to the notification of accreditation decisions, information sharing, and public disclosures.

G. Regard for Decisions of States and Other Accrediting Agencies

This policy outlines the circumstances under which PSC will consider decisions of states and other accrediting agencies when determining the institutions it will consider for accreditation.

A. Substantive Change

This document details PSC’s policies and procedures when a member institution wants to make a substantive change to how it operates, such as offer a new degree level or acquire another institution.

B. Teach Out Plans and Agreements

This document outlines PSC’s policies and procedures for what an institution must submit regarding how it will teach out students impacted by the closure of the institution, or the closure of an institutional location that provides 100% of at least one program.

C. Complaints

PSC ensures that any complaints it receives against an accredited institution are reviewed in a timely, fair, and equitable manner. This document details how students, the public, or other stakeholders can submit a complaint against a member institution or PSC.

D. Public Comment

PSC accepts public comments on an ongoing basis. This document explains PSC’s policies and procedures related to public comments.

E. Review of and Revisions to PSC’s Standards, Policies, and Procedures

PSC regularly reviews its Accreditation Standards, policies, and procedures to ensure they reflect PSC’s intended approach and remain aligned with applicable regulations. This document outlines PSC’s policy and procedures in this area.

A. Glossary of Terms and Definitions

The terms in this Glossary appear in PSC’s Accreditation Standards, policies, and procedures. They are defined here for clarity and to ensure institutional compliance with applicable federal regulations and PSC requirements.