The criteria for accreditation are organized under five major headings:
- Criterion One: Mission and Integrity – The organization operates with integrity to ensure the fulfillment of its mission through structures and processes that involve the board, administration, faculty, staff, and students.
- Criterion Two: Preparing for the Future – The organization's allocation of resources and its processes for evaluation and planning demonstrate its capacity to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its education, and respond to future challenges and opportunities.
- Criterion Three:Student Learning and Effective Teaching – The organization provides evidence of student learning and teaching effectiveness that demonstrates it is fulfilling its educational mission.
- Criterion Four:Acquisition, Discovery, and Application of Knowledge – The organization promotes a life of learning for its faculty, administration, staff, and students by fostering and supporting inquiry, creativity, practice, and social responsibility in ways consistent with its mission.
- Criterion Five:Engagement and Service – As called for by its mission, the organization identifies its constituencies and serves them in ways both value.
Each criterion has three elements:
- Criteria Statements: These statements, adopted by the Commission, define necessary attributes of an organization accredited by the Commission. An organization must be judged to have met each of the criteria to merit accreditation. Sanctions may be applied if an affiliated organization is in jeopardy of not meeting one or more of the Criteria.
- Core Components: The Commission identifies core components of each Criterion. An organization addresses each core component as it presents reasonable and representative evidence of meeting a Criterion. The review of each core component is necessary for a thorough evaluation of how an organization meets a criterion.
- Examples of Evidence: The Commission provides in the examples of evidence illustrative examples of the specific types of evidence that an organization might present in addressing a core component. Organizations may provide other evidence they find relevant to their mission and activities. Some types of evidence suggested by the Commission may not be appropriate for all organizations; therefore, the absence of a specific type of evidence does not in and of itself mean that the organization fails to meet a core component.