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University Accreditation

Cornell University has been accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education since 1921 and was most recently reaffirmed in 2016. Cornell’s official Statement of Accreditation Status is maintained at the Middle States website.

What Is Accreditation?

Accreditation in higher education is a process of peer review for colleges, universities, and educational programs.  In the U.S., accreditation is carried out through private, nonprofit organizations rather than the federal government.  Cornell is accredited through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the accrediting agency for educational institutions in the mid-Atlantic region recognized by the federal government.

Accreditation is voluntary but it is required in order for students to gain access to federal funds including student grants and loans. Non-accredited institutions are not eligible to receive for federal financial aid.

Cornell University’s accreditation review covers the breadth of the university, including Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City and instructional activities around the world.

Types of Accreditation

  • Regional or “university” accreditation: Regional accreditors operate in six specific clusters of states (regions) in the U.S. and review entire institutions.  As an institution in New York State, Cornell is accredited through Middle States.
  • Specialized and Professional Accreditation: Specialized and professional accreditors operate throughout the country and review programs and some single-purpose institutions. At Cornell, there are 21 programs that have specialized or professional accreditation.


Accreditation typically requires a thorough self-study by the institution or program under review followed by a review by peers who visit campus. Accreditation judgments are based on standards of quality developed by the accrediting organization in consultation with the higher education community.

Cornell is engaging in the self-study in preparation for an accreditation visit in the fall of 2020.  That process is described further here. Previously submitted self-study reports can be found here.

Student Grievances

Information on how to file a complaint with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) regarding an accredited MSCHE institution can be found on its website at: