Providing Accreditation since 1986
Comprehensive Evaluation

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The Commission requires institutions to undergo a comprehensive evaluation at least every ten years.  The comprehensive evaluation process has three components:

  • an institutional self-study, in which the institution evaluates how and how well it meets the Commission's Standards for Accreditation;
  • an on-site evaluation by a group of peers; 
  • a review and decision by the Commission.


Self-study is at the heart of accreditation. Both a product and a process, effective self-study serves accreditation’s dual purposes: quality assurance and institutional improvement. The self-study presents a concise picture of the institution as a dynamic entity with a sense of its history, an understanding of its present, and a vision of its future. By clearly identifying strengths and challenges, the institution demonstrates it's ability to use analysis for improvement.

Commission staff provide assistance to institutions preparing for their comprehensive evaluations through an annual fall workshop and individual campus visits. Institutions are strongly encouraged to submit a rough draft of the self-study for review by Commission staff.



  1. Cover page 
  2. Table of Contents
  3. Institutional Characteristics Form
  4. Table of CIHE Actions, Items of Special Attention or Concerns
  5. Introduction (brief summary of self-study process, participants, and goals, and identification of areas the institution was asked to focus on) 
  6. Institutional overview (including summary of principal self-study findings)  
  7. Narrative (100-page response to 11 Standards in Description, Appraisal, Projection format) plus Data First forms bound into the relevant chapters.
      Data First forms (.xls)
      Data First forms [formatted so instructions print] (.xls)
  8. Appendix     
  • Completed Affirmation of Compliance(.doc), signed by the institution's CEO
  • Most recent year’s audited financial statements
  • Auditor's management letter containing specific recommendations to the institution on its financial controls and practices. 
  • List of supporting documents available in the workroom and/or URLs
  • Student Success Data Forms (E series and S series) 
             Student Achievement and Success (.pdf version)
             Student Achievement E series (.doc)
             Student Success S series (.doc) 

    Self-studies are to be single-spaced, double-sided, and bound as simply as possible (not in three-ring binders). For further guidance, the Self-Study Guide, “Supportive Materials for the Team Workroom,” and all required forms are available on the Commission website

Six weeks before the team visit, the institution sends a self-study (including all items above) to each member of the visiting team. At the same time, please provide four (4) paper copies and an electronic copy (single, searchable pdf file) of the self-study to the Commission office

On-site Evaluation:  The on-site evaluation by a group of faculty and administrators provides the institution and the Commission with a valuable external perspective.  Team members are selected because of their experience at an institution comparable to the one being evaluated.  They are trained by Commission staff to validate the self-study in light of the institution's mission. The Evaluation Manual may be a helpful resource to understand the approach and perspective of the visiting team.

After the visit:  After the visit, the team chair, using material submitted by the team members, will produce a draft report, first reviewed by the team and the Commission staff. The staff review is designed to help ensure that the report can stand on its own and that important areas are sufficiently addressed. Following any changes made in that initial review, the chair sends the draft report to the institution’s president for purposes of making sure the factual matters in the report are correct. Having made any appropriate changes based on that review, the chair sends the final version of the team report to the institution, which sends copies to the team members and to the Commission.

The institution’s president is asked to respond to the team report. Responses may indicate concurrence with the team’s findings, may provide a differing interpretive perspective on factual matters or may provide an update on how the institution has responded to the findings of the team.

Commission Review and Decision:  Normally the Commission considers comprehensive evaluations the semester following the visit. The institution’s president (CEO) and team chair are invited to meet with the Commission for an interactive session to review the comprehensive evaluation. Included in the review are the team report, the confidential recommendation of the team chair, the institution’s response, and the history of Commission action with respect to the institution. Two reviewers will also have the institution’s self-study and materials distributed to the team with the self-study. In addition, in keeping with federal regulations, the Commission seeks and considers Public Comment regarding each evaluated institution.

The Range and Meaning of Commission Actions Affecting Institutional Status outlines the actions the Commission may take with regard to an institution's accreditation status. In addition, the Commission specifies areas where an institution should endeavor to improve its effectiveness. Official written notification of the Commission decision is provided to the institution shortly after the Commission meeting.