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Office of the Provost Accreditation


NWCCU Accreditation Standards

NWCCU standards require institutions to identify their mission, core themes or strategic goals, and requisite resources across all areas of the university. Specific standards focus on student learning, asking institutions to identify the key learning outcomes for students in academic programs, determine if students are achieving those outcomes, and over time work to improve student achievement.

Standard 1: Mission, Core Themes, and Expectations

The institution articulates its purpose in a mission statement, and identifies core themes that comprise essential elements of that mission. In an examination of its purpose, characteristics, and expectations, the institution defines the parameters for mission fulfillment. Guided by that definition, it identifies an acceptable threshold or extent of mission fulfillment. (For additional details, see NWCCU Standard 1A – 1B.)

Standard 2: Resources and Capacity

By documenting the adequacy of its resources and capacity, the institution demonstrates the potential to fulfill its mission, accomplish its core theme objectives, and achieve the intended outcomes of its programs and services, wherever offered and however delivered. Through its governance and decision-making structures, the institution establishes, reviews regularly, and revises, as necessary, policies and procedures that promote effective management and operation of the institution. (For additional details, see NWCCU Standard 2A – 2G.)

Standard 3: Planning and Implementation

The institution engages in ongoing, participatory planning that provides direction for the institution and leads to the achievement of the intended outcomes of its programs and services, accomplishment of its core themes, and fulfillment of its mission. The resulting plans reflect the interdependent nature of the institution’s operations, functions, and resources. The institution demonstrates that the plans are implemented and are evident in the relevant activities of its programs and services, the adequacy of its resource allocation, and the effective application of institutional capacity. In addition, the institution demonstrates that its planning and implementation processes are sufficiently flexible so that the institution is able to address unexpected circumstances that have the potential to impact the institution’s ability to accomplish its core theme objectives and to fulfill its mission. (For additional details, see NWCCU Standard 3A – 3B.)

Standard 4: Effectiveness and Improvement

The institution regularly and systematically collects data related to clearly defined indicators of achievement, analyzes those data, and formulates evidence-based evaluations of the achievement of core theme objectives. It demonstrates clearly defined procedures for evaluating the integration and significance of institutional planning, the allocation of resources, and the application of capacity in its activities for achieving the intended outcomes of its programs and services and for achieving its core theme objectives. The institution disseminates assessment results to its constituencies and uses those results to effect improvement. (For additional details, see NWCCU Standard 4A – 4B.)

Standard 5: Mission Fulfillment, Adaptation, and Sustainability

Based on its definition of mission fulfillment and informed by the results of its analysis of accomplishment of its core theme objectives, the institution develops and publishes evidence-based evaluations regarding the extent to which it is fulfilling its mission. The institution regularly monitors its internal and external environments to determine how and to what degree changing circumstances may impact its mission and its ability to fulfill that mission. It demonstrates that it is capable of adapting, when necessary, its mission, core themes, programs, and services to accommodate changing and emerging needs, trends, and influences to ensure enduring institutional relevancy, productivity, viability, and sustainability. (For additional details, see NWCCU Standard 5A – 5B.)

Periodic Review of Accredited Institutions

NWCCU accrediting procedures necessarily include periodic review of accredited institutions, both for their benefit and to ensure fulfillment of the accrediting Commission’s accountability function. (For additional details, see NWCCU, Self Evaluation process).

Under the current seven year accreditation cycle, WSU will provide institutional reports every two years and host site visits in Year Three (2013) and Year Seven (2017). Each report addresses different standards and builds upon the previous reports.