In the United States, higher education institutions are required to be accredited by their regional accrediting body. There are six accrediting bodies in the United States and they are overseen by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Manhattan School of Music’s accrediting body is the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

Accreditation provides proof and quality assurance to governing bodies overseeing education in the United States, such as the Department of Education and Congress. As an accredited institution since 1956, Manhattan School of Music maintains its ability to:

Receive Federal financial aid to distribute to qualifying students - Confer internationally-recognized Bachelor/Master/Doctoral degrees - Maintain its identity and credibility as an outstanding higher education institution 
In summary, accreditation provides higher education institutions with documented proof of quality that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and by other institutions nationally and around the world.
Below you will find a description of the process and the Self-Study document, a list of key players in the process, and a timeline. At the end, you can read about how to get involved, and find links for feedback.

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The Process

In order to maintain its status as an accredited institution of higher learning, MSM completes a comprehensive Self-Study every 10 years, as well as a Periodic Review Report every five years. These reports are submitted to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and reviewed by a panel of education experts. MSCHE then issues a finding, either confirming accreditation, calling for improvements, or (in rare cases) denying accreditation. MSM’s most recent submission to MSCHE is its 2013 Periodic Review Report. Our next submission, the comprehensive Self-Study, will be submitted in 2018. Because of the size and comprehensive nature of the full Self-Study project, MSM is already involved in preparing this report.

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The Self-Study

The comprehensive Self-Study is a 2.5-year process that results in a report outlining strengths, weaknesses, and suggestions for improvement. MSCHE defines seven “Standards” that accredited institutions must meet:   

Standard I    Mission and Goals     

The institution’s mission defines its purpose within the context of higher education, the students it serves, and what it intends to accomplish. The institution’s stated goals are clearly linked to its mission and specify how the institution fulfills its mission.  

Standard II    Ethics and Integrity     Ethics and integrity are central, indispensable, and defining hallmarks of effective higher education institutions. In all activities, whether internal or external, an institution must be faithful to its mission, honor its contracts and commitments, adhere to its policies, and represent itself truthfully.
Standard III
  Design and Delivery of the Student Learning Experience    An institution provides students with learning experiences that are characterized by rigor and coherence at all program, certificate, and degree levels, regardless of instructional modality. All learning experiences, regardless of modality, program pace/schedule, level and setting are consistent with higher education expectations. 
Standard IV
  Support of the Student Experience     Across all educational experiences, settings, levels, and instructional modalities, the institution recruits and admits students whose interests, abilities, experiences, and goals are congruent with its mission and educational offerings. The institution commits to student retention, persistence, completion and success through a coherent and effective support system sustained by qualified professionals, which enhances the quality of the learning environment, contributes to the educational experience, and fosters student success.
Standard V
  Educational Effectiveness Assessment    Assessment of student learning and achievement demonstrates that the institution’s students have accomplished  educational goals consistent with their programs of study, degree level, the institution’s mission, and appropriate  expectations for institutions of higher education.
Standard VI
  Planning, Resources, and Institutional Improvement    The institution’s planning processes, resources, and structures are aligned with each other and are sufficient to fulfill its mission and goals, to continuously assess and improve its programs and services, and to respond effectively to opportunities and challenges.
Standard VII 
  Governance, Leadership, and Administration    The institution is governed and administered in a manner that allows it to realize its stated mission and goals in a way that effectively benefits the institution, its students, and the other constituencies it serves. Even when supported by or affiliated with governmental, corporate, religious, educational system, or other unaccredited organizations, the institution has education as its primary purpose, and it operates as an academic institution  with appropriate autonomy.

Showing that MSM meets accreditation standards requires assessment and analysis of virtually all aspects of the School’s programs, administration, and personnel. At its best and most useful, the process involves input from all institutional stakeholders – faculty, staff, Board members, alumni and students. Read MSM’s Self-Study Design, the plan to complete the Self-Study, here

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The Key Players

Work on MSM’s Self-Study is overseen by a Steering Committee consisting of the following MSM faculty and staff:

Dr. Marjorie Merryman, Provost and Senior Vice President (faculty in Composition), Chair 
Caryn Kaplan, Associate Director of Human Relations, Co-Chair for Administration and Staff 
Dr. Lisa Yui, Assistant Dean for Programs and Assessment (faculty in Music History and Piano Skills), Co-Chair for Academics and Faculty
Dr. Monica Christensen, Dean of Students
Carol Matos, Senior Director of Administration and Human Relations
Gary Meyer, Vice President for Business and Finance
Lianna Portnoy, Assistant to the Provost

Each member of the Steering Committee manages one or more of the seven Standards. For each Standard, a working group has been appointed to develop a report pertaining the Standard’s specific issues. Each working group may solicit opinions and feedback from a variety of sources, including students.

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The Timeline

A general overview of this 2.5 year Self-Study process includes the following milestones:

Action Dates  TASK 
December 2015
Steering Committee organized
February 2016 – April 2016
Working groups identified and organized for each standard
February 2016 – April 2016
Self-Study Design drafted 
May 11, 2016
Visit from MSCHE Liaison; meetings with President, Steering Committee, faculty, students and Trustees
May 2016
Orientation for working groups
September 2016 – December 2016
Data gathering & analysis by working groups

Self-Study Steering Committee meetings regularly, reviewing and discussing key components of reports 
February 1, 2017
Draft reports due to Steering Committee 
March – April 2017  Steering Committee collaborates with working groups to revise reports

Feedback sought from students, faculty, staff and BOT 
April 2017 Compilation of first Self-Study draft report 
September 2017
Self-Study report submitted to Chair of the Evaluation Team 
October/November 2017
Visit by Chair of Evaluation Team
February 2018
Final Self-Study Report mailed to MSCHE evaluators
March 2018 
Visit by MSCHE Evaluation Team
June 2018
Commission action                      

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Your Role

Every member of MSM’s Community is invited to participate in the Self-Study process. We will be updating this sight regularly, and we will be inviting feedback on specific issues. Specific questions for the MSM community may appear on this website. Student, faculty and staff focus groups may also be organized to give responses to elements of the final report. See the link below to send general feedback, and revisit this page for more specific opportunities to get involved!

Read the latest updates below.

Send feedback here 

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Coming Soon!

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