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Comprehensive Evaluation

The Open Pathway is one of three accrediting processes used by the Higher Learning Commission. Western Michigan University is an Open Pathway institution, which affords a 10-year review cycle.


Why Open Pathway?

The Open Pathway model provides an increased amount of contact between the HLC and member institutions while emphasizing assessment, integrated planning, and quality improvement. The Quality Initiative component of the Open Pathway provides the freedom for institutions to engage in innovative projects. The WMU Signature program is the outcome of the current cycle's quality initiative.


What to Expect during the Comprehensive Evaluation

  • In year 4 of the Open Pathway cycle, institutions are required to undergo assurance review to ensure that they are meeting the Criteria for Accreditation.
  • In year 10 of the Open Pathway cycle, institutions undergo a comprehensive evaluation in order to reaffirm accreditation.
  • Additionally, during the last five years of the cycle, institutions are required to engage in a large-scale quality initiative. WMU's quality initiative is WMU Signature.


How it affects me

The Open Pathway allows Western Michigan University to innovatively address institutional goals, while also reaffirming our mission; an institution focused on student success and quality education.


Criteria for Accreditation

What are the Criteria for Accreditation?

One aspect of reaccreditation is the compilation of an Assurance Argument, which addresses each of the Criteria for Accreditation. Each of these five criteria include multiple core components and sub-components. The assurance argument is WMU's opportunity to reflect upon the past ten years and highlight the practices, policies and values of the institution. The assurance argument will also discuss the University's investment in continuous improvement initiatives and how it is poised to meet future opportunities and respond to challenges within higher education.

To reaffirm accreditation, WMU must provide evidence that each of the five Criteria for Accreditation is met.


Quality Initiative

As part of the accreditation requirements set by the HLC for universities on the Open Pathway, a large-scale quality initiative is required between years five and nine of the 10-year accreditation cycle. WMU's quality initiative is the WMU Signature program.

Image: WMU Signature logo



WMU Signature offers each undergraduate and graduate student a personalized pathway to become learning-centered, discovery-driven, and globally engaged.




To provide a meaningful and reflective framework that inspires students to intentionally integrate, synthesize, and articulate their unique WMU experience.



What to Expect

The Quality Initiative Report will be submitted in summer 2020. It includes the scope and impact of the project, plans for the future, and resource provisions.


How it affects me

Video of About WMU Signature


WMU Signature encourages students to intentionally connect their academic work with co-curricular activities, which enhances student learning, and works toward the vision of WMU to distinguish itself as learner-centered, discovery driven and globally engaged. This student engagement initiative has the ability to influence every student and department on campus.


How I can help

Learn about WMU Signature and become involved in this student engagement initiative!


Federal Compliance Form

WMU will complete and submit the Federal Compliance Form before the April 2021 Visit.


The Federal Compliance form shows that WMU is compliant with specific federal regulations, such as the financial aid Federal Title IV Funds Policy.