Part I: The 2013 Handbook and WSCUC Accreditation

Introduction

WSCUC’s 2013 Handbook of Accreditation is intended to serve a variety of readers: representatives of institutions accredited by the Commission and those seeking accreditation; chairs and members of evaluation teams; those interested in establishing good practices in higher education; and the general public. The 2013 Handbook has been designed to serve several purposes: to present the Commission’s Core Commitments and Standards of Accreditation; to guide institutions through the institutional review process; and to assist evaluation teams at each stage of review. Each major section is designed to stand alone; at the same time, it fits within the larger framework of the 2013 Handbook as a whole. A glossary is included to clarify terminology.

WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) is a California nonprofit public benefit corporation established for the purposes of accrediting senior colleges and universities in the region. All simple uses of “the Commission” in this Handbook and related documents are intended as references to WSCUC.

The Commission reserves the right to make changes to the 2013 Handbook and all related policies and procedures at any time, in order to comply with new federal requirements or in response to new needs in the region. Institutions should refer to the website www.wscuc.org for the most recent versions of all publications.

The 2013 Handbook is copyrighted with a Creative Commons license (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike) that allows sharing and remixing with attribution, but does not allow the work to be used for commercial purposes. It is the Commission’s goal that through wide dissemination and application, the Standards and processes in this model of accreditation may inform and contribute to improved reviews and institutional practices.

The 2013 Handbook is part of a more comprehensive system of support provided by the Commission. Supplementary information in the form of policies, guides, and associated documentation is available on the Commission’s website and should be read in conjunction with this Handbook. The Commission welcomes suggestions for improvement of this Handbook and ways to make it, and the accreditation process itself, more useful to institutions, students, and members of the public.

WSCUC was originally formed on July 1, 1962 to evaluate and accredit schools, colleges, and universities in California, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Three separate accrediting commissions serve this region: one for K-12 schools (ACS WASC), one for community and junior colleges (ACCJC), and one for senior colleges and universities (WSCUC).

WSCUC has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as a reliable authority concerning the quality of education provided by member institutions of higher education offering the associate degree, baccalaureate degree and post-baccalaureate degrees.