Because Fort Lewis is an already accredited institution in good standing with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), we can elect to follow the Open Pathway Cycle of accreditation and reaffirmation. This means that the College undergoes a comprehensive review known as an Assurance Review in Year 4 (2020) of our reaccreditation cycle, as well as a larger, Comprehensive Evaluation for Reaffirmation in Year 10 (2026). In preparation for these comprehensive evaluations, FLC provides information and evidence to HLC demonstrating that we are in compliance with all relevant accreditation criteria. In 2020, an HLC peer review team evaluated our submitted materials and determined that all criteria were satisfactorily met and FLC did not need additional monitoring. FLC is currently preparing for the next comprehensive evaluation in 2026.

HLC Criteria for Accreditation

  • Criterion 1. Mission. FLC’s mission is clear and articulated publicly; it guides the institution’s operation.
  • Criterion 2. Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct. FLC acts with integrity; its conduct is ethical and responsible.
  • Criterion 3. Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources and Support. FLC provides quality education, wherever and however its offerings are delivered.
  • Criterion 4. Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement. FLC 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 5. Institutional Effectiveness, Resources and Planning. FLC’s resources, structures, processes and planning are sufficient to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its educational offerings, and respond to future challenges and opportunities.

Open Pathway Accreditation Activities and timeline

  • Institutional Update  – a data set filed via a web-based system and updated yearly; 
  • Assurance Review  – an Assurance Filing demonstrating how we meet the HLC Criteria for Accreditation and the associated core components, backed up by an Evidence File, both filed via a web-based system and monitored in 2019-2020, and every five years after that;
  • Quality Initiative  –  a focused and systematic improvement project related to student success, which began in 2022-2023 and a final report will be submitted to the HLC in 2025. A new Quality Initiative Project will be completed between Years 6-9 of each Open Pathway Cycle; and
  • Comprehensive Evaluation  – the filing of an Assurance Review, a Federal Compliance Review, a Student Opinion Survey and an on-site campus visit in 2025-2026, and every ten years after that.