The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is one of the most recognized accrediting bodies in the United States. While not a national or international accreditation body, they do grant regional accreditation within the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The Higher Learning Commission provides accreditation to 19 different states that allows the HLC to identify, articulate, and uphold standards for quality education.
Fully recognized by the Council on Higher Learning and the U.S. Department of Education, HLC accreditation means multiple things. First, the school or program is allowed to grant students federal funding for their education. Second, it ensures students that the institute or program meets or exceeds the learning, educational, and professional standards outlined in the standards of practice developed and maintained by the HLC. These standards are constantly reviewed by the HLC board, which consists of public members, professionals in the field of higher learning and education.
HLC provides accreditation to post-secondary schools and programs that wish to become voluntarily accredited. This process requires commitment by the post-secondary institution to ensure that the program meets all standards. The accreditation process has many steps, many of which include intensive self evaluation by the institute or program, ongoing accreditation visits, and professional improvement plan for the school or program as well as the staff and students and a formal report.
More information about both the HLC can be found at http://www.ncahlc.org/.