What is WASC?
The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) is one of six regional associations that accredit public and private schools, colleges, and universities in the United States. Through its review processes, WASC confirms that an institution as a whole has in place the resources and practices to achieve its educational goals and has provided evidence of the quality of its educational programs. All universities, including each of our sister UC's, are regularly reviewed and reaccredited by WASC.
The WASC accreditation process is a multi-year endeavor that includes:
• earning Eligibility,
• earning Candidacy,
• earning Initial Accreditation.
Institutions elect to undergo accreditation review for several reasons besides assurance of quality and adherence to academic standards. Accreditation determines a school's eligibility for participation in federal (Title IV) and state financial aid programs. Accreditation also is important for the acceptance and transfer of college credit, and is a prerequisite for many graduate programs. Generally, college credits or degrees received at a regionally accredited institution are accepted by other regionally accredited colleges or universities.
The accreditation process does not end with Initial Accreditation. Once granted, the institution is subject to periodic review and to conditions as determined by the WASC Commission. Every accredited institution files an annual report, undergoes a comprehensive self review and evaluation and is visited at least every ten years. As a matter of Commission policy, Initial Accreditation requires institutional self review and peer evaluation no more than seven years after the date of the Commission action granting such status.
What is accreditation?
Accreditation is a voluntary dual-purpose process that schools (1) must be worthy of the trust placed in them to provide high-quality learning opportunities and (2) clearly demonstrate continual self-improvement.
An accredited school is focused on a mission and goals for students; it is student-oriented and examines its students' performance continuously; it accepts objective evaluation from a team of outside peer professionals trained by WASC; it maintains a qualified faculty within an effectively organized school; it collaboratively assesses the quality of its educational programs on a regular basis; and it plans for the future.
Who benefits from accreditation?
Everyone. WASC accreditation is a valuable service to the public, students and educational institutions themselves.
- The public is assured that accredited institutions are evaluated extensively and conform to general expectations of performance and quality. Because accreditation requires continual self-evaluation, frequent reports, and periodic external review, the public can be assured that the educational quality of programs and services offered by the institution are current, reflect high standards of quality, and are offered with integrity.
- Students can be assured that the institutions in which they seek to enroll have been reviewed and the educational programs that are offered have been evaluated for quality and currentness.
- Educational institutions benefit from the stimulus for self-study and self-improvement provided by the accreditation process.
Also helpful is the ongoing counsel provided by the accreditation commissions and the hundreds of peer experts used in the process of external evaluation.
Accreditation status also increases opportunities for public and private funding for both the institution and students and enhances the institution’s credibility and reputation.