On March 29 and 30, 1895, thirty-six school, college, and university administrators from seven midwestern states met at Northwestern University. They had been called to “organize, if deemed expedient, an association of colleges and schools of the North-Central States.” The constitution of the association formed by these educators stated that the North Central Association’s object would be “the establishment of close relations between the colleges and secondary schools” of the region.


Within a short time, the desire to improve articulation between secondary schools and colleges led to extensive examination of the quality of education at both levels; that, in turn, led to the accreditation of secondary schools and, later, colleges and universities. Three histories of the Association—Calvin O. Davis’ A History of the North Central Association (1945), Louis G. Geiger’s Voluntary Accreditation: A History of the North Central Association 1945–1970 (1970), and Mark Newman’s An Agency of Change: One Hundred Years of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (1997)—trace this evolution and chronicle the decisions and actions the Association has taken to provide educational leadership to the region and the country.


Today, the Association is a membership organization of colleges and schools in nineteen states (Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming), American Dependents’ Schools operated overseas for the children of American military and civilian personnel, and schools and colleges in sovereign U.S. tribal nations within the nineteen states. Through its Board, the Association controls the use of its name, logo, and intellectual property. Two independent corporations, the Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (CASI) in Tempe, Arizona, and The Higher Learning Commission, in Chicago, Illinois, also hold membership in the Association. The two commissions hold the legal authority to conduct accrediting activities for educational organizations. CASI accredits schools below the postsecondary degree-granting level, and The Higher Learning Commission accredits degree-granting higher education organizations.





Reprinted from The Higher Learning Commission Version 1:10/03 The Handbook of Accreditation

Chapter 1.1, Introduction to Voluntary Accreditation and the Commission