The University of Wisconsin–Madison has been continuously accredited since 1913. Every ten years the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) conducts a comprehensive review of the university. UW–Madison’s last comprehensive review site visit was March 25–26, 2019.

Click here to see UW-Madison’s Assurance Argument.

What is accreditation?

Accreditation is the primary means of assuring accountability and improving the quality of higher education institutions. It is required to receive federal and state funding and is essential for private-sector financial support. Accreditation is a designation and a process. As a designation, it serves as public recognition that an institution has met accepted standards of quality. As a process, it demonstrates an ongoing commitment to self-study and external peer review. These assessments affirm that quality standards are being met and provide opportunities to enhance student outcomes.

UW–Madison is on the HLC Open Pathway, a process that includes a number of components over a ten-year cycle. UW–Madison will prepare an evidence-based assurance argument that is the basis for reaffirmation of accreditation in the tenth year of the cycle, 2018-19. The reaffirmation process will culminate in a site visit by a team of HLC peer reviewers made up of faculty and staff from other universities with similar missions.

Criteria for Accreditation

Institutions are accredited based on demonstration that they meet the criteria for accreditation and the assumed practices.

  • Criterion One: Mission
    The institution’s mission is clear and articulated publicly; it guides the institution’s operations.
  • Criterion Two: Integrity, Ethical and Responsible Conduct
    The institution acts with integrity; its conduct is ethical and responsible.
  • Criterion Three: Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support
    The institution provides high quality education, wherever and however its offerings are delivered.
  • Criterion Four: Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement
    The institution demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs, learning environments, and support services, and it evaluates their effectiveness for student learning through processes designed to promote continuous improvement.
  • Criterion Five: Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness
    The institution’s resources, structures, and processes are sufficient to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its educational offerings, and respond to future challenges and opportunities. The institution plans for the future

Site Visit

The team of peer reviewers will visit UW–Madison on March 25–26, 2019. The team will prepare for the visit by reviewing the assurance argument and evidence file, the federal compliance report, student survey results, and comments from the public. During the two-day visit the review team will meet with faculty, staff, and students and will validate the assurance argument and evidence that the university meets the five criteria for accreditation. The review team will prepare a report that will be submitted to and acted on by HLC.

2009 HLC Accreditation Project and Annual Reports

HLC Mark of Affiliation



HLC Open Sessions Information

Accreditation site visit open sessions

UW–Madison’s institutional accreditation project will culminate with a site visit March 25-26 by a review team appointed by the Higher Learning Commission. Selected sessions on specific criterion will be open to the university community. Times and locations for open sessions will be posted on this page by March 22.

Third-Party Comment Period (UW-Madison news story 1/3/2019)

UW-Madison’s Quality Initiative (REACH) Report approved by the Higher Learning Commission (5/21/18)

HLC Save the Date (UW-Madison news story 3/26/2018)

2019 HLC Accreditation Project (flier from Leadership Breakfast 2/21/2018)

Your Role in a Successful HLC Accreditation Project  (e-mail to campus leadership 11/29/2017)

10-year reaccreditation process underway (Inside UW-Madison story 4/6/2017)

A Higher Learning Commission Peer Review Site Team will visit UW–Madison on March 25-26, 2019.  To meet our deadlines, UW–Madison has launched teams to begin work on our assurance argument.