New Program Accreditation Checklist

Northern has institutional accreditation stipulations that allow us to offer new programs at any degree level other than doctoral without prior approval if the degree is in a field we operate in already, we are to offer it without partners, and it is not a CBE program. This includes programs offered online as distance education.

Because of US Dept of Education rules, all certificate program must be approved. Most are immediately approved through submission of a simple online form, but an HLC desk review might be required.

If Northern eventually has approved several (the number is uncertain) doctoral programs, our stipulation will likely change to allow new doctoral programs without prior approval, but currently any new doctoral program must be approved in advance. Approval will require a full application including a site visit by peer reviewers.

Courses can be offered in person off campus. If a student could complete at least 50% of a program at an off-campus location (including a degree-completion program), we need to have that location approved. This is not difficult and should not be seen as a barrier to action, but compliance is essential for Northern to remain in good standing with HLC and U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Federal Student Aid programs of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended.

Specialized/Programmatic Accreditation

Does the program require programmatic accreditation?

Yes – Department will manage.

No – Is it eligible for programmatic accreditation?

Institutional Accreditation


Is the program offered for academic credit and a Northern academic credential?

Yes – Go to Financial Aid.

No – HLC (and the US Dept of Education) do not review. No further action is necessary.

Financial Aid: 

Will Northern seek approval for students to use Federal Student Aid resources to partially or fully fund their study?

Yes – Go to Certificates.

No – HLC (and the US Dept of Education) do not review. No further action is necessary.


Is the program a certificate (any level)?

Yes – Needs HLC approval. Some will receive immediate approval with submission of a simple screening form; others will need HLC desk review which requires about 3 months. Contact Dan Cullen.

No – Go to Degrees.


If it is not a certificate, is the program one of the following degrees: Associate, Baccalaureate, Master’s, Ed.Specialist?

Yes – Go to Field.

No – Is it doctoral?

  • Yes – Full HLC application with peer visit is required. Plan for 6-9 months HLC review after all other approvals are in place. Work with Dan Cullen on HLC application.
  • No – If it’s not a certificate or one of the degrees above, consult with Academic Affairs. (Note: a non-degree micro-credential will likely be treated as a certificate, whether we use that word or not. A transcript note such as a certification is not a credential. If in doubt, consult Dan Cullen and/or Academic Affairs.)


Is the program in a field Northern already teaches?

Yes – Go to Partnerships.

No – Prior approval is likely necessary. Contact Dan Cullen.


Is another body offering part of the program (actual instruction/curriculum, not support like the learning platform or materials)?

Yes – Is the partner accredited as an institution of higher education?

  • Yes – The arrangement is consortial. These are more straightforward to approve, depending on which partner offers the majority of the program content.  Consult with Dan Cullen.
  • No – The arrangement is contractual. These are challenging to approve, but can be done. If the partner offers 25% or less of the program, approval is easiest. If the partner offers 50% or more of the program, approval is unlikely.

No – Go to CBE.


Will the program be offered as competency-based education (CBE)?

Yes – HLC approval will be required. Contact Dan Cullen.

No – Go to Location.


Will a majority of the program be offered on NMU campus, online (originating at Northern), or at an approved additional location (as of March 2020, NMU has one active approved additional location: K.I. Sawyer in Marquette)?

Yes – No action is required unless indicated by a response above.

No – Additional location approval might be required. Contact Dan Cullen.