Middle States Accreditation Self-Study

The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) is the sixth largest of Maryland’s sixteen independent community colleges.

Since 1969, the College of Southern Maryland (formerly Charles County Community College) has been accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 1007 North Orange Street, 4th Floor, MB #166, Wilmington, DE 198014, 267-284-5011, and the Maryland Higher Education Commission, 16 Francis Street, Annapolis, MD 21401, 410-974-2971.

Every eight years, the college participates in a comprehensive reaccreditation process with Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) to prove that the College is providing high-quality educational experiences for students. As part of this process, the College is embarking on a self-study to include an in-depth analysis, reflective assessment, and opportunities for improvement of programs and institutional effectiveness as compared to the College’s mission and goals and the Standards for Accreditation. There are seven Standards for Accreditation and Requirements of Affiliation which will be addressed during the Self-Study.

During this peer review process, data will be gathered through interviews with key stakeholders, assessment and analysis of key college-wide reports, and review of federal, state, and college policies and procedures. The main purpose of the peer review is to ensure the College’s mission, vision, and values are contributing to the success of our students with ongoing continuous improvement in evidence.

Institutional Mission Statement

(Maryland state approved January 2019, reviewed Fall 2021)

The College of Southern Maryland enhances lives and strengthens the economic vitality of a diverse and changing region by providing affordable postsecondary education, workforce development, and cultural and personal enrichment opportunities.

Institutional Vision Statement

Board Approved, May 2021

CSM will be the region’s first choice for accessible, inclusive, and innovative education that transforms communities.

Institutional Values

Board Approved, May 2021
  • Collaboration - We are stronger when we work together.
  • Equity - We provide each individual with the opportunity, resources, and access needed to be successful.
  • Excellence - We commit to high standards and clear expectations.

  • Inclusivity - We respect contributions and differing abilities of everyone, providing space for all.
  • Innovation - We value creativity and ingenuity, embracing new ideas and perspectives.
  • Integrity - We are transparent and honest.
  • Respect - We treat others with dignity.


  • March 2024 Site Visit
Self-Study Design (.pdf)
about CSM

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.

View Standard I

CSM seal on the side of a build

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.

View Standard II

students on campus

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.

View Standard III

Students pose in front of hawk wings

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.

View Standard IV

Leonardtown Campus building

Standard V – Educational Effectiveness Assessment

Assessment of student learning and achievement demonstrates that the institution's students have accomplished educational goals consistent with their program of study, degree level, the institution's mission, and appropriate expectations for institutions of higher education.

View Standard V

students on computers

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.

View Standard VI

Prince Frederick Campus building

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.

View Standard VII

Self-Study Timeline

  • CSM receives invitation to attend the Fall 2021 MSCHE Self-Study Institute
  • College President appoints Self-Study Co-Chairs
FALL 2021

Training and Launch:

  • AOL and Self-Study Co-Chairs launch Self-Study process
  • AOL and Co-Chairs attend the MSCHE Self-Study Institute, held to orient institutions beginning the Self-Study process (October – November)
  • Preparatory visit for MSCHE Staff Liaison is scheduled
SPRING 2022 Formation of Steering Committee and Working Groups:
  • Steering Committee Members identified and solicited 
  • DRAFT Self-Study Design is finalized and submitted to MSCHE (April 8, 2022)
  • Steering Committee reviews Self-Study Design
  • Working Groups Assigned
  • College hosts MSCHE Staff Liaison Self-Study Preparation Visit (April 22, 2022)
  • Core Team meets with Steering Committee and Working Groups to officially kick-off the Self-Study process. Core Team and Steering Committee will provide an introductory training workshop to Working Groups based on the Self-Study Design, including an introduction to the Study’s intended outcomes.
  • Revised Self-Study Design submitted to and approved by MSCHE Staff Liaison

End of Summer Progress Report:

  • Working Groups will submit a progress report to the Steering Committee to demonstrate that they have:
    • Attended an Introductory Training Workshop for Working Groups members
    • Read the Self-Study Design
    • Read the assigned Standard and Criteria
    • Studied their MSCHE Standard and Lines of Inquiry
    • Created a meeting schedule through Spring 2023
    • Assigned clear and understandable roles to each member of the Working Group
    • Created specific strategies for how the Working Group members will address different components of the Standard and collect evidence
    • Identified individual Work Groups timelines and deliverables
    • Began to identify and sstarted to contribute documents to the Evidence Inventory

FALL 2022

  • Steering Committee and Working Groups review evidence, conduct research, analyze, and write
  • First DRAFT Working Group Outlines due to Steering Committee (December)


  • Steering Committee provides feedback on progress report to Working Groups
  • Expand on Working Group Outlines:
    • Each Working Group will have expanded on its Outline for its Standard chapter, describing one or two primary ways the college is in compliance with their Standard, specifically the Required Criteria
      • The expanded Outline must include:
        • Any collected evidence to support claims
        • A completed Evidence Inventory
        • A short summary of any gaps in evidence discovered thus far
  • First DRAFT Working Group Reports complete (January)
  • Self-Study Co-Chairs review and respond to first DRAFT Working Group reports
  • Working Groups continue research, incorporate feedback


Draft Reports:

  • Working Groups complete DRAFT of their chapters of Self-Study Report by May 2023
    • Working Groups exchange Draft Standard Chapter and conduct review of another Working Group’s DRAFT Standard Chapter, providing feedback and also identifying gaps
  • Steering Committee and Working Groups continue research, prepare revised draft reports
  • MSCHE selects and notifies the College of the Evaluation Team Chair; dates for team visit and for the Chair’s Preliminary Visit finalized
  • DRAFT shared at Spring 2023 Board of Trustees Meeting, Campus Town Hall Meeting, College Wide Council Meeting, and Faculty Senate Meeting
  • Working Groups incorporate feedback and submit DRAFT Standard Chapter to Steering Committee for review
  • Final Working Group Reports completed, posted for Campus Review (May)
  • Self-Study Co-Chairs incorporate feedback and make revisions, prepare first DRAFT of full Self-Study Report
  • Steering Committee completes first DRAFT of Self-Study Report


  • Editor writes Self-Study in one voice
  • MSCHE selects Self-Study Evaluation Team members

FALL 2023

  • Self-Study Report finalized based on Team Chair feedback and vetted broadly across campus
  • Campus feedback considered and Self-Study Report updated as appropriate
  • Team Chair Preliminary Campus Visit (DRAFT Self-Study Report sent two weeks prior)


  • Final Self-Study Report/Verification of Compliance/Evidence Inventory uploaded to MSCHE portal (six weeks prior to Team Visit)
  • College hosts Evaluation Team Visit (March)
  • Evaluation Team provides college with an Evaluation Team Draft Report
  • College submits institutional response to Evaluation Team’s Draft Report (April)
  • Commission review of Team report, College response; Determines Action (June/July) 


  • MSCHE Commission meets to determine action
  • College receives and responds to MSCHE Action (July)
CMS Page Edit