The Open Pathway requires an institution to designate one major improvement effort it has undertaken during its 10-year accreditation cycle as its Quality Initiative. The Quality Initiative takes place between years 5 and 9 of the 10-year Open Pathway Cycle. A Quality Initiative project may be designed to begin and be completed during this time, or an institution may continue a project that is already in progress or achieve a key milestone in the work of a longer initiative. The Quality Initiative is intended to allow institutions to take risks, aim high, and learn from only partial success or even failure.
According to HLC, the most common topics include student success, assessment of student learning, online learning (including Quality Matters), organizational planning, unit or program review, developing a quality culture, and cultural competency.