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Middle States Accreditation Process

Parrish Hall

Department Overview

Accreditation is a process by which U.S. institutions of higher education undergo peer review to assess and certify that the institution meets standards of quality, and is eligible to receive federal funds (e.g. through student aid or grants). Swarthmore College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), 1007 North Orange Street, 4th Floor, MB #166, Wilmington, DE 19801, 267-284-5011.   In order to maintain accreditation, institutions provide routine evaluations in the forms of annual reports, decennial self-studies, and interim (between self-studies) periodic review reports.  The latter two involve evaluation by external reviewers.

Swarthmore began working on its 2019 decennial self-study in 2017.  This work involved our entire community, with a number of working groups and multiple opportunities for community input and feedback during the process.  The work culminated with a Self-Study report and a visit by a team of peer evaluators in spring of 2019.   Carol Nackenoff, Richter Professor of Political Science, and Robin Huntington Shores, Director of Institutional Effectiveness, Research & Assessment, were co-chairs of the Steering Committee, which guided the College through this process.  


Update June, 2019

The Commission reaffirmed the College's accreditation in June.  The College's next regularly scheduled Mid-Point Peer Review will take place in 2024 (this is a review of materials submitted through the College's annual reporting to the Commission and requires no additional preparations by the College) and the next full Self-Study Evaluation is scheduled for 2027-28.  The work for that Self-Study will begin in 2025-26.

Our accreditation status may be viewed at any time on the Commission's website.


Update April, 2019

Team Visit - March 24 - 27, 2019:   From Sunday, March 24 through noon Wednesday, March 27 the College hosted a team of seven external peer evaluators, volunteers from the academic community who were trained by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, our regional accrediting agency.  They arrived on campus having carefully reviewed our Self-Study and the documents we provided to demonstrate the College's meeting the Commission's Standards of Accreditation and Requirements of Affiliation.  They interviewed students, faculty, and staff in order to evaluate the conclusions we've drawn in the Self-Study and to address any questions they may have about the College.  Their goal was to provide a careful assessment of the College within the framework of the Commission's Standards and Requirements and within the context of the College's mission and goals.

The team shared an oral report of its findings at the conclusion of their visit, and a written report was submitted to the Middle States Commission in April.  


Update February 2019

The final Self-Study report, as well as the list of evaluation team members, was shared with our internal community on February 7.  The Self-Study and all supporting materials were shared with the evaluation team at about the same time via our Middle States web-based portal.  


Update October 2018

A draft of the Self-Study has been shared with our internal community.  Discussions have been scheduled with faculty (Oct. 1), staff (Oct .3), and students (Oct. 7).  If you are not able to attend a discussion and have some feedback about the document, please contact Carol and Robin (cnacken1, rshores1).  


Update April 2018

Our process remains on schedule.  The eight Working Groups have completed their work and the Steering Committee is now reviewing their individual reports to identify the content for our Self-Study, which will be drafted over the summer.  They have agreed on the recommendations that will be included in the Self-Study.  The Committee is also working to consolidate the many excellent suggestions that emerged through the Working Groups' analyses and direct them to the appropriate office or committee for attention.  The draft Self-Study will be shared with the community for input in late summer.