July 14, 2020
Middle States agency joins Western accreditor in embracing new authority to expand outside its region. It will go further, considering any interested college in the U.S. and eventually outside it.
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education said Monday that it would become the second regional accrediting agency to take advantage of newly granted federal authority to consider colleges and universities from outside their traditional geographic boundaries.
Middle States may not have been the first out of the gate in taking advantage of new Education Department rules that created the possibility of open competition among accrediting agencies; that distinction went to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges’ Senior College and University Commission, which said in February that it would “broaden [its] reach” by letting institutions it currently accredits either move their campus or start a new institution out of the region. WSCUC said it might eventually expand farther.
The Middle States commission, which accredits institutions in six states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, imposed no such limits on its new action, saying it would consider applications from colleges and universities elsewhere in the United States. The agency’s officials also said they would in January 2021 lift a years-long moratorium on accrediting colleges outside the United States.