HLC Accreditation

Winona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), one of the six regional higher education accrediting agencies.

To maintain the institutional accreditation on the Open Pathway, WSU undergoes a ten-year cycle of accreditation and monitoring reviews. This includes:

  • a mid-cycle review on the fourth year
  • a Quality Initiative between the fifth to ninth year
  • a comprehensive review on the 10th year

WSU also completes annual data updates and follows appropriate processes to ensure the quality of education it offers.

More information on the HLC accreditation is found in the 2020 HLC Resource Guide (PDF).

Next Review: Nov. 8-10, 2021

WSU is scheduled for the next comprehensive review on Nov. 8-10, 2021.

The Review Team Visit Agenda (DOC) is available to all campus users in the IPAR Sharepoint website.

The Improvement, Accreditation & Assessment Committee has been preparing and planning for this review. 

However, the contribution and engagement by the faculty, staff, students, and administrators will be critical for the successful affirmation of accreditation.

How You Can Help

WSU students and employees are invited to view the past reviews and engage with the current process by visiting the 2021 HLC Review – WSU Preparation.

This site is only accessible to current WSU students and employees.

If prompted for login, use StarID@minnstate.edu (employees) or StarID@go.minnstate (students).


Here are some common questions about the HLC and what accreditation means for WSU. Learn more with HLC FAQs.

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is one of six accrediting agencies in the United States that provide institutional accreditation on a regional basis.

While some agencies grant accreditation for individual programs, HLC evaluates and accredits institutions as a whole.

Recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, HLC accredits nearly 1,100 higher education institutions in a 19-state region.

HLC accreditation is a formal recognition that WSU has met standards of quality.


  • lends respect to our school’s credits and degrees
  • helps facilitate transfers of credits
  • allows our students to be eligible to take state licensure exams in many professional fields
  • affords our access to financial aid and federal funding opportunities

Without accreditation, financial aid for students would be jeopardized.

Without accreditation, the college would be unable to qualify for many grants that enable it to provide quality programming and support services throughout the communities that it serves.

The HLC accreditation process itself is important in that it provides enhanced opportunities for WSU to:

  • assess our accomplishments
  • assess our strengths and challenges
  • use this information as a basis for continuous improvement

WSU participates in the Open Pathway approach to accreditation. Open Pathway institutions must meet a variety of factors and participate in a Quality Initiative.

Winona State is reviewed and evaluated based on five Criteria and their corresponding Core Components.

Criterion 3 and Criterion 4 are at the heart of the accreditation standards.

These Criteria focus first on teaching, learning, and assessment of student learning. That includes program review and effectiveness, and the congruence of academic programs with co-curricular programs.

Assessment and evaluation of Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) (PDF) are specifically detailed in these Criteria.

The expectation for all HLC-accredited institutions is that they identify measurable SLOs for every program, including General Education (Criterion 3), and that the assessment of these SLOs is evaluated.

Institutions must demonstrate that their evaluation and interpretation of these learning data are used directly to inform program and even course-level improvements. 

This is the cycle of “closing the loop” in continuous improvement.