Aerial photo of outside of the Graduate School building on campus, home to the Office of the Provost.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does assessment matter? Should I care?
Absolutely. The purpose of assessment is to improve, inform, and support your program. The assessment of student learning is an essential component of university effectiveness, General Education, and program goals. This assessment is fundamental to achieving the Strategic Plan goals and fulfilling the mission of the college.

In addition, assessment plays an integral role in accreditation of programs and Middle States accreditation. These accreditations are a prerequisite for access to federal or state funds for research, programs, and facilities, as well as government sources of financial support for students.

What are the possible outcomes?
If an institution fails to demonstrate compliance with one or more of the standards, Middle States can send specific recommendations that engage the institution in a follow-up process. For example, “accreditation with a follow-up report” or “accreditation with monitoring and a follow-up visit.” If an institution fails to perform the designated follow-up actions, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education can subsequently withdraw its accreditation.
What is Middle States? What is accreditation?
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) is a voluntary, non-governmental, membership association that defines, maintains, and promotes educational excellence across institutions with diverse missions, student populations, and resources. It examines each institution as a whole, rather than specific programs within institutions.

Accreditation is a means of showing that a university’s programs, policies, and priorities are aligned with its institutional mission and goals. The accreditation process is an opportunity to demonstrate a university’s accountability and improvement, both internally and externally. Montclair State University is proud to be accredited by one of the seven regional accreditation authorities – the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

The MSCHE accredits institutions in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and several locations abroad.

What is Middle States looking for?
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education aspires to be the preeminent resource for institutions of higher education striving to achieve excellence in fulfilling their missions. It also intends, through voluntary assessment and adherence to high standards for student learning outcomes and operational behavior, to assure higher education’s publics that its accredited institutions are fulfilling their stated purposes and addressing the publics’ expectations.

Montclair State University must comply with all Middle States’ standards in order to keep our accreditation. All the standards are interpreted in the context of the university’s mission and goals. Additionally, we must demonstrate that our resources are allocated properly and our planning processes are sustainable for change, informed by data analysis, assessment, and evaluation. If you are interested in the full exposition of the standards, you can download the Middle States document titled Standards for Accreditation and Requirements of Affiliation.

Aren’t we already accredited?
Yes, the Middle States accreditation process follows an eight-year cycle, and Montclair State University’s last accreditation was in 2017. Middle States will next consider Montclair State University’s accreditation in 2025-2026 with a decennial Self-Study Report in 2025 and a follow-up on-site visit in 2026.
How should we begin?
The three main steps of assessment are:

  1. Articulate your goals and objectives for student learning.
  2. Gather evidence about how well students are meeting the goals.
  3. Use the information to make any modifications necessary to improve student learning.