Harvard University is accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE) of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Harvard, like all accredited universities and colleges, is reviewed for reaccreditation generally every 10 years and last received accreditation in 2009. 

Accreditation FAQ

What is accreditation? Why should a university be accredited?

Accreditation is a voluntary, peer review process. It serves 4 main purposes: (1) to assure quality to the public, (2) to ease student transfer between institutions by signaling quality, (3) provides institutions with access to federal financial aid, and (4) certifies a graduate’s credentials to employers.

An “accredited” university meets the Standards for Accreditation established by an accrediting agency.  The Standards ensure that an institution has appropriate and clear goals, sufficient resources to achieve them, is fulfilling its objectives, and will continue to do so. 

The process provides colleges and universities with an opportunity for reflection, honest assessment of strengths and weaknesses, along with a chance to develop strategies for continued improvement.  

Who accredits Harvard?

The New England Association of Schools and Colleges’ (NEASC) Commission on Institutions of Higher Education accredits HarvardUniversity.  NEASC is one of six regional accrediting organizations in the United States. More information can be found at  

Who accredits the accreditors?

Accreditors, such as CIHE, are organizations federally recognized through the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), a bipartisan committee established under the Higher Education Act Amendments of 1992.  NACIQI recognition indicates that an accreditor can adequately determine whether an institution is of sufficient quality to qualify for federal funds for financial aid and other programs.

In addition, CIHE is recognized through the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, which has five standards for accreditors: (1) They are required to advance academic quality, (2) They demonstrate accountability, (3) They encourage purposeful change and needed improvement, (4) They employ appropriate and fair procedures in decision-making, and (5) They continually reassess accreditation. 

How does reaccreditation work? What is the process?

According to CIHE, accredited institutions are typically reviewed for accreditation every ten years.  That process, called the comprehensive evaluation, begins with the preparation of a self-study, which typically takes 12-18 months to prepare and addresses all of the Standards for Accreditation.  After reading the self-study, a committee consisting of faculty and administrators from similar institutions visits campus to meet with the university president, faculty, students and staff.  The committee provides recommendations to the Commission, which then makes its determination regarding accreditation.

 Between comprehensive evaluations, institutions update the Commission on their progress and plans in an Interim Report, which is typically submitted five years after the self-study. 

What are CIHE Standards for Accreditation?

CIHE Standards for Accreditation, most recently revised in 2016, examine “institutional quality” in 9 areas, which are:

  1. Mission and Purposes
  2. Planning and Evaluation
  3. Organization and Governance
  4. The Academic Program
  5. Students
  6. Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship
  7. Institutional Resources
  8. Educational Effectiveness
  9. Integrity, Transparency, and Public Disclosure

More detailed information about the Standards for Accreditation can be found on the CIHE website.