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Institutional Research and Effectiveness - IRE

Accreditation FAQ

Frequently asked questions about Accreditation

What is accreditation?
Accreditation refers to the process of evaluating colleges, universities, schools, departments, and programs against accepted standards of quality.

Why do we need accreditation?
In addition to confirming that students are receiving a quality education, the accreditation process helps institutions identify opportunities for improvement and also is a requirement for students to receive federal (and in some cases state) financial aid.

Are there different types of accreditation?
There are two types of accreditation that may be familiar to the WesternU community; institutional and specialized.

Institutional (or regional) accreditation pertains to the entire institution and is overseen by one the six regional accrediting agencies recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Specialized (professional or programmatic) accreditation may refer to accreditation of programs, departments, or schools. In cases where a program, department, or school constitutes the entire institution the specialized accreditor may also function as the institutional accreditor.

What is WSCUC? What happened to WASC?
The Western Association of School and College (WASC) is one of the six regional accreditation agencies recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. WASC accredits institutions throughout California, Hawaii, and the Pacific.

WASC is divided into three sub agencies, one for schools below college-level (high schools, etc.), one for junior colleges, and one for senior colleges. The WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) accredits senior colleges and universities (including WesternU).

How often does WesternU undergo institutional accreditation?
Historically the time between institutional accreditation cycles (end point to end point) has been anywhere from six to ten years. Generally speaking, longer intervals are awarded to institutions with more favorable accreditation review outcomes. WSCUC is currently using a 6-8-10 year paradigm. WesternU’s current reaffirmation cycle will culminate in 2018.

What are the possible outcomes of an accreditation cycle?
The outcome depends on the institution and their accreditation history. WSCUC may determine eligibility, candidacy, or initial accreditation (for institutions new to the process). WSCUC may reaffirm accreditation for a period of 6-8-10 years or impose a sanction for the institution that have previously received initial accreditation. A full description of possible outcomes can be found on the WSCUC website here.

What findings did WSCUC provide after the most recent visit?
At the conclusion of WesternU’s most recent visit reaffirmation cycle, WSCUC identified four commendations and three recommendations. Details can be found on WesternU’s most recent WSCUC action letter here.

Where can I find information related to WesternU’s accreditation status?
Information about WesternU’s accreditation status can be found on the WSCUC website here.

What is WesternU doing to prepare for the current accreditation cycle?
WesternU’s University convened a steering committee in September of 2015 to guide the University through the reaffirmation process. Meeting materials, including meeting agendas and minutes, can be found here.

What do I need to do? How can I participate in the process?
Obviously the University’s accreditation status is of interest to the entire WesternU community. The steering committee expects to engage a wide-range of University constituents throughout the reaffirmation cycle. Feedback from students, faculty, staff, administration, and others may solicited by the steering committee at various points in the process. In addition, many of you will have an opportunity to interact with the WSCUC visiting team during their site visit in 2018.