University Reaccreditation

Columbia University Decennial Reaccreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 2015-2016

Columbia University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, 267-284-5000 (MSCHE). MSCHE is one of six regional higher education accrediting agencies in the U.S. The University underwent its decennial accreditation during the 2015-2016 academic year, and were re-accredited for the maximum allowable period, 8-10 years.

Accreditation is a voluntary process involving peer review intended to strengthen, sustain and foster confidence in the quality and integrity of the institution as well as higher education in general. It is designed to underscore focus on institutional mission and its links to judgement around quality, fiscal integrity, the maintenance of adequate institutional resources, and academic freedom of the faculty; it is also used as a measure of quality to enable access to federal financial aid.  Middle States Commission on Higher Education ( reviews accredited institutions every ten years, while also requiring a written periodic report halfway between the decennial reviews.

Once an institution elects to apply for accreditation and then becomes accredited, it agrees to comply with the standards of its own accrediting agency and to regulate itself by investing in its own self-assessment and ongoing and systematic quality improvement. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education bases its accreditation on what it terms the 14 Standards of Excellence.

In addition to university-wide accreditation, a number of Columbia schools and programs are accredited by specialized, discipline-specific accrediting agencies.

Columbia received approval from the Commission to adopt the "selected topics" model for accreditation. This model allows established institutions to concentrate their efforts on a particular area of interest, by engaging in a "self-study." The focus of Columbia's self-study is the globalization of education at Columbia. Because the self-study speaks to only a portion of our educational programming, we have also conducted a comprehensive document review to demonstrate our adherence to the MSCHE 14 Standards of Excellence.

As part of the reaccreditation process we solicited feedback on the self-study from Columbia students, staff, and faculty. The initial comment period on the self-study was October 29 to November 10, 2015. The second and final comment period was December 18, 2015 to January 7, 2016. We are very grateful to the Columbia community for their feedback.

  1. The final Self-Study: Globalization of a Columbia Education submitted to Middle States in January 2016;
  2. The Document Review Report from MSCHE; and
  3. The Final Site Evaluation Team Report from MSCHE

The focus on globalized education links directly to the work of the University Forum on Global Columbia, a university-wide forum querying the nature, purpose, and possibilities of a global university and in particular what is a "Global Columbia." Columbia has embarked on a wide ranging discussion focused on what is involved in becoming a global university in the twenty-first century. The Forum invites the entire community—students, faculty, administrators—to consider the substance and directions of Global Columbia.

To address the overarching questions guiding the preparation of the University's self-study, we have formed the following committees comprised of faculty, administrative, and student members of the University.  Full committee membership can be viewed by clicking on the committee below.

Steering Committee - chaired by Provost Coatsworth