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Office of Assessment of Teaching and Learning FAQs About Accreditation

What is regional accreditation?

Regional accreditation is a voluntary system of self-regulation, through a peer review process, in which a university or college is assessed against a set of standards. In general, accreditation:

  • Communicates to the public that a university or college has demonstrated the ability to meet broadly-accepted higher education standards of quality, and to fulfill its stated mission and goals
  • Allows students to receive federal financial aid
  • Permits student transfer between institutions

Who accredits WSU and when is our next accreditation visit?

WSU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Most recently re-affirmed in 2013, WSU has been continuously accredited since 1918.

Our comprehensive seven-year review and visit are scheduled for spring 2018. For additional information, please see WSU’s Accreditation website.

How does the work that faculty and departments do to assess student learning support WSU’s accreditation?

For program assessment, faculty systematically collect information about student learning, discuss results, and use that information to guide decisions that support quality curricula and effective teaching and learning.

This work by faculty also supports WSU’s accreditation. For the comprehensive report and site visit, WSU must demonstrate that the university and its academic programs meet the following key NWCCU standards:

  • Learning Outcomes. Identify and publish expected course, program, and degree student learning outcomes. Expected student learning outcomes for courses, wherever offered and however delivered, are provided in written form to enrolled students. (Eligibility Requirement 22 and 2.C.2)
  • Curriculum. Ensure that degree programs demonstrate a coherent design with appropriate breadth, depth, sequencing of courses, and synthesis of learning. (2.C.4)
  • Faculty Roles.
    • Faculty exercise a major role in the design, approval, implementation, and revision of the curriculum. (2.C.5)
    • Faculty with teaching responsibilities, in partnership with library and information resources personnel, ensure that the use of library and information resources is integrated into the learning process. (2.C.6)
    • Faculty with teaching responsibilities are responsible for evaluating student achievement of learning outcomes. (4.A.3)
    • Faculty have a primary role in the evaluation of educational programs and services. (4.A.2)
  • Assessment. Document through an effective and regular system of assessment that students who complete its educational courses, programs, and degrees, achieve identified course, program, and degree learning outcomes. (4.A.3)
  • Use of Assessment Results / Share with Constituencies. Use student learning assessment results to inform academic and learning-support planning and practices that lead to enhancement of student learning achievements. Make results of student learning assessments available to appropriate constituencies in a timely manner. (4.B.2)
  • Review Assessment Processes. Regularly review its assessment processes to ensure they appraise authentic achievements and yield meaningful results that lead to improvement. (4.A.6 )

What does accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) mean?

Accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities indicates that an institution meets or exceeds criteria for the assessment of institutional quality evaluated through a peer review process. An accredited college or university is one which has available the necessary resources to achieve its stated purposes through appropriate educational programs, is substantially doing so, and gives reasonable evidence that it will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Institutional integrity is also addressed through accreditation.

Accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities is not partial but applies to the institution as a whole. As such, it is not a guarantee of every course or program offered, or the competence of individual graduates. Rather, it provides reasonable assurance about the quality of opportunities available to students who attend the institution.

Inquiries regarding an institution’s accredited status by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities should be directed to the administrative staff of the institution. Individuals may also contact:

Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
8060 165th Avenue N.E., Suite 100
Redmond, WA 98052
(425) 558-4224

For additional information, see WSU’s Accreditation website

How is regional accreditation different from professional accreditation?

Regional accreditation focuses on the institution rather than a program or college. A regional authority accredits a wide variety of institutions (community colleges, four-year schools, etc.) in a particular region of the country. Losing regional accreditation, while rare, has significant consequences, which may include loss of reputation, federal financial aid, grant funding, transferability of courses, or even closing the doors of the institution.

WSU programs or colleges with additional professional or other separate accreditation are listed on the WSU Accreditation website and in the WSU Catalog. These programs or colleges are peer reviewed and meet additional educational standards for their discipline.

Which states are included in our region for accreditation?


Slide NWCCU Region 2016


Washington State University