• Middle States Review

    The New School's accreditation was reaffirmed by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) in 2014. The accreditation evaluation is a rigorous process that universities in the region must undergo every eight years.

    For The New School, the process provided an ideal opportunity for us to take a comprehensive look at our student experience, faculty, academic programs, infrastructure, and resources. Our Self-Study Report (PDF) presents a vivid narrative of our university since its last accreditation evaluation in 2003. The self-study processes identified The New School’s strengths and areas for improvement, all framed by the vision and priorities for our future that are set forth in our strategic plan.

    Following the submission of the Self-Study Report, a team of peer evaluators appointed by MSCHE visited the campus. The Site Team's positive report underscores The New School's strength, values, and direction. It acknowledges the challenges we have met and the considerable progress we have made in the past decade, especially in recent years. The Site Team report (PDF) also offers valuable suggestions and recommendations that reinforce our priorities and the important work we must advance, particularly with regard to assessment.

    The New School will provide an update to MSCHE on the progress we make in the coming years. This intensive process was extremely valuable for the university and we are grateful to all the members of our community who participated in it.

  • FAQ

    What is the Middle States Commission on Higher Education?

    The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is the accrediting arm of Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, a private, voluntary membership association that defines, maintains, and promotes educational excellence in colleges and universities with diverse missions, student populations, and resources. In accrediting member institutions, the commission examines each institution as a whole rather than specific programs within the institution. The Middle States Association accredits degree-granting colleges and universities in the region that includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, and also Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

    What is accreditation?

    Accreditation is a process of peer review that the higher education community has used for self-regulation since the early 20th century. This voluntary process is intended to strengthen and maintain the quality and integrity of higher education, making it worthy of public confidence. Institutions choose to apply for accredited status and, once accredited, agree to abide by the standards of their accrediting organization and to regulate themselves by taking responsibility for their own improvement.

    Why is it important to have accreditation?

    Accreditation is a means of assuring the public that an institution is providing quality education consistent with its own mission and the principles established by the accrediting body. It demonstrates to other institutions, institutional leadership, faculty, and students a commitment to excellence. Accreditation is also a requirement for any institution seeking federal financial aid for its students.

    What are the criteria for Middle States accreditation?

    The Middle States Commission has identified seven key characteristics of excellence. These characteristics address all aspects of an institution's effectiveness, including mission, infrastructure, faculty, student body, resources, leadership, and educational offerings.

    How does the reaccreditation review occur?

    This comprehensive review process is based on a self-study produced by the institution that addresses the characteristics of excellence outlined by MSCHE. Through the self-study, an institution evaluates how well it is meeting both its own goals and the commission's standards. Another important part of the review process is a visit by a team of external evaluators. The team reviews the self-study and other background materials and visits the institution to gather additional information and perspectives from students, faculty, administrative staff, and community members. The team then produces a report for the Middle States Commission. After reviewing all the documentation from the review process, the commission makes a decision about accrediting the institution.

    How long does the reaccreditation review process take?

    The process takes about two years from the time when the institution begins designing the self-study to the time when the Middle States Commission issues its decision on reaccreditation. The New School's process began in spring 2011. Originally, we expected the external review team to visit in spring 2013 and the commission to make its determination in summer 2013. In fall 2011 we approached the Middle States Commission about a one-year extension to align our review process with the installation of our new president, David Van Zandt, and our new strategic planning process. The external review team visited The New School in spring 2014 and the commission re-affirmed The New School's accreditation in the summer of 2014.

    Who is involved in the self-study?

    Broad input is needed in order to create a self-study that accurately and comprehensively reflects our institution. The New School therefore involves a cross-section of the campus community in creating the self-study report. The process is led by a steering committee appointed by the president and the provost, including representatives from the faculty, administration, trustees, and student body.

    How did The New School do in its previous reaccreditation reviews?

    The New School last completed the Middle States reaccreditation review in 2003. We were reaccredited without reservation. In 2008, the university produced a periodic review report. The report was positively reviewed by the Middle States Commission and was among a handful of periodic review reports that received a special commendation that year.

    I have other questions or comments. How can I share them?

    Send your comments and questions by email to provost@newschool.edu. We invite input from the New School community and will do our best to answer your questions. This FAQ list will be updated and expanded periodically.

    Self-Study Design

    Defining the design or organizational structure of the self-study is an important early step in the Middle States review process. Middle States does not prescribe a specific model, allowing each university or college to devise a self-study that best reflects the institution and its strategic priorities.

    For The New School's self-study, we have organized the 14 standards set by Middle States into six areas, each of which will be discussed in a chapter of the report: vision and leadership; infrastructure; faculty; students; programs and curriculum; and assessment. Overarching themes central to this university's mission — academic quality, distributed education, and innovation — will be explored in all chapters.

    You can view the diagram below, which illustrates this basic structure.

    self study

    2014 Self-Study Report

    A key part of the decennial re-accreditation process is The New School's 2014 Self-Study Report.

    To place the report into the broader context of the accreditation process, please refer to the other information provided on this website, especially The New School's Institutional Self-Study Design. The self-study design provides the context and process for which the self-study report was developed and was approved by the Middle States in the early stages of this process. The accreditation process is laid out in the timeline found here.

    The final self-study was submitted to the Middle States Commission in early February 2014. An external evaluation team will now review the self-study and visit our campus in April 2014.

    The team members are

    • Deborah Freund, Team Chair - President, Claremont Graduate University
    • Kevin Conlon - Provost, Columbus College of Art
    • Erin Ebersole - Director of Institutional Research, Planning and Effectiveness, Immaculata University
    • Heather Kelly - Director, Office of Institutional Research, University of Delaware
    • Bonnie Kirkpatrick - Senior Director of Faculty Development and Support, Academic Director of Online Learning, Wilmington University
    • Henry Mauermeyer - Senior Vice President and Treasurer, New Jersey Institute of Technology
    • Janice Strickland - Coordinator for Student Conduct, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
    • Ralph Wahlstrom - Chair and Professor of English, State University of New York, College at Buffalo

    To complete the decennial re-accreditation process, after the team complete their visit, they will make both oral and written reports to the university and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The university will have the opportunity to respond to the written team report, after which the MSCHE will conclude this accreditation cycle with a letter on the status of The New School's accreditation.