WSU Accreditation and Program Assessment
WSU Regional Accreditation
Washington State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), a regional post-secondary accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education. Regional accreditation is a voluntary system of self-regulation, through a peer review process, in which an institution is assessed against a set of standards. In general, accreditation communicates to the public that an institution has demonstrated the ability to meet broadly-accepted higher education standards of quality, and to fulfill its stated mission and goals; accreditation also facilitates student mobility between institutions, and allows students to receive federal financial aid.
See WSU’s Accreditation website for more information about WSU’s accreditation cycle and status.
Program Assessment Supports WSU Accreditation
Program-level assessment is key to WSU’s demonstration of regular and systematic assessment, as required by NWCCU, to evaluate the quality of student learning, while recognizing the central role of the faculty to establish curricula, assess student learning, and improve instructional programs. See NWCCU Standard 1.C. Student Learning for the full standard on curriculum, student learning assessment, and use of results.
NWCCU Requirements for Program Assessment
The NWCCU standards require programs to assess student learning, selecting the methods and approaches that work best for their discipline and unique context. While the NWCCU expects programs, departments, colleges, and institutions to select processes that works best for them, at the same time, they offer several clear expectations:
- Identify and publish program-level student learning outcomes (SLOs)
- Establish curricula with appropriate depth, breadth, sequencing, and synthesis of learning
- Document an effective and regular system of program-level assessment, where faculty are responsible for evaluating student achievement of SLOs
- Use program assessment results to inform decisions intended to improve the instructional program and support student learning
Specialized Accreditations at WSU
Accreditation by NWCCU applies to the institution as a whole, while specialized accreditation occurs separately from institutional accreditation and applies to the evaluation of a specific program, department, college, etc. Many WSU programs, departments, and colleges are accredited by professional accrediting associations recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Typically, these programs, departments, and colleges are peer reviewed and meet additional educational standards for their discipline. In this way, WSU’s flexible system for program-level assessment of student learning is intended to support the evolving needs of students and disciplines.