What is Accreditation?
Accreditation is a system of self-regulation and peer review to assess universities on their ability to fulfill their academic mission and goals. Institutional accreditation informs the public that WSU meets broadly accepted higher education standards of quality and has the ability to fulfill its stated mission and goals, allows WSU students to receive federal financial aid, and simplifies the transfer process for students who wish to change schools.
Accreditation is awarded by one of the national commissions that are recognized by the US Department of Education. Commissions are organized by geographic regions of the United States though they are permitted to review institutions outside of their region. WSU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). NWCCU oversees accreditation for most public institutions and some private institutions in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Alaska, and British Columbia. WSU has been continuously accredited since 1916.
WSU is on a seven-year accreditation cycle. Every seventh year its academic procedures and outcomes undergo a comprehensive review by a team of external evaluators who are affiliated with institutions that are similar to WSU. The team writes a formal report that identifies areas of needed improvement and areas of strength. Within the seven-year cycle the university also experiences some focused evaluations:
- Annual report on key indicators of the university’s health and viability
- Third-year review of student learning assessment processes
- Sixth-year review of university finances and policies
Specialized Accreditation of Programs and Colleges
Some undergraduate, professional, and graduate programs maintain specialized accreditation through discipline-specific organizations. Professional accreditation indicates that the program meets its discipline’s expectations for quality of curriculum, faculty, and experiential opportunities. WSU maintains a list of WSU’s individually accredited programs. Every WSU degree that is eligible for professional accreditation has earned this status. Degrees that do not appear on this list are in fields that do not offer professional accreditation.