• Student Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

What is accreditation?

Accreditation is a voluntary review process that a college or university goes through to demonstrate that it meets certain standards. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the goal of accreditation is to ensure that institutions of higher education meet acceptable levels of quality. Read more about accreditation here.

Why is accreditation important?

Accreditation is important not only because it ensures a college or university meets certain standards of quality, but also because it is necessary for an institution to be accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency in order for eligible students to receive federal student aid from the U.S. Department of Education.

What is WSCUC?

The WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) is a nonprofit organization that is recognized as an institutional accrediting agency by the U.S. Department of Education. WSCUC accredits public and private higher education institutions as well as a limited number of institutions outside the United States. A WSCUC accreditation is a respected symbol of  quality. You can find the list of institutions accredited by WSCUC in the directory of institutions.

What does an accreditor do?

An accreditor reviews higher education institutions seeking its accreditation and oversees periodic reviews of institutions that are already accredited. This review examines the college or university in areas such as student learning, governance, administration, financial stability, student services, institutional resources and other aspects of how the institution functions to make sure that it meets certain standards.

Why is WSCUC accreditation relevant to students?

WSCUC accreditation is relevant to students because they can be assured that the college or university has met standards of quality, is engaged in continuous review, and that eligible students have access to federal financial aid.

What kind of information about its accredited schools is on WSCUC’s website?

For each of its accredited institutions, WSCUC posts contact information, key personnel, locations, current accreditation status, number of students, type and characteristics of the institution, degrees and programs offered (both onsite and distance education), and year of upcoming reviews.  Commission actions, including team reports and letters, which provide details on the institution’s review process such as both commendable items and areas requiring a response are also posted. All of this information is available in the directory of institutions.

How can someone find out if a college or university is accredited by WSCUC?

The list of WSCUC accredited institutions, including those with any sort of Sanction or Notice of Concern, are on the WSCUC website in the directory of institutions.

If a college or university becomes accredited after a student attends and/or graduates, what is the impact on credits or a degree?

If an institution is accredited after a student attends and graduates and/or leaves the institution, there is no impact on that student’s credits or degree. The credits and/or degree will still be from an unaccredited institution, and it will be up to an employer or institution to decide on degree recognition or credit transfer acceptance.

How can a former student get their transcripts or degree verified if a college or university loses accreditation, stops enrolling new students, and closes?

When an institution stops enrolling new students and lets only its existing students finish their studies, this is called a “teach-out”. WSCUC requires that an institution identify a permanent location where transcripts will be kept as part of its teach-out process. On the Formerly Accredited or Candidate Institutions page, WSCUC posts when the institution closed and where transcripts can be obtained.

Does WSCUC determine whether or not credits can be transferred to another institution?

No, however, accredited institutions will usually only consider accepting transfer credits from other accredited institutions.

What is the difference between an institution being accredited and being licensed?

Accreditation is a voluntary review process, conducted by a recognized accrediting organization, that a college or university goes through to demonstrate that it meets certain standards. Licensure is a process in many states whereby a program is allowed to operate and is granted the ability to have students who complete the program sit for the licensing exam in their field of study. The Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) has information about State Licensed or Authorized Institutions here.

Does WSCUC accept complaints or comments about institutions it accredits?

WSCUC values information provided by students, employees, and others in determining whether an institution’s performance is consistent with the Standards of Accreditation and Commission policies and procedures and has therefore established a policy and process for accepting complaints or comments. However, WSCUC does not mediate or resolve grievances around an individual employee or student issue, including issues of admission decisions, granting or transfer of academic credit, grades, fees, student financial aid, student discipline, transcripts, collective bargaining, faculty or staff appointments, promotion, tenure, contractual rights and obligations, and dismissals or similar matters.

The WSCUC Complaint and Third-Party Comment Policy is here.

Can someone other than an employee or student file a complaint on their behalf?

Complaints are usually filed by employees or students who have grievances that draw into question the member institution’s adherence to one or more Commission Accreditation Standards or Policies. Even if a complaint is submitted on another person’s behalf, all information related to the complaint would be addressed to the employee or student who is the subject of the complaint.

How can I contact WSCUC?

Visit the WSCUC contact page.

For more information on student success and post-graduation outcomes for institutions of higher education, visit this resource on the WSCUC website.

For more information on accreditation, please visit the U.S. Department of Education website.

Student Resources

FEATURED | PROCESS

Key Indicators Dashboard

The Key Indicators Dashboard (KID) presents detailed trend and comparative information on WSCUC’s accredited undergraduate institutions in a clear, easy to use format. KID displays from federal data sets to present multiple years of metrics, trend data, and comparisons based on both national and WSCUC averages. KID provides integrated, accessible data on institution size and context, student completion, student finances, institution finances, and post-graduation outcomes.

WORKSHOPS & TRAINING MATERIALS

Accreditation Resource Conference (ARC)

WSCUC’s Accreditation Resource Conference (ARC) is an annual gathering of WSCUC and the broader higher education community that focuses on issues of critical importance and features presentations and content geared towards accreditation and institutional improvement.

POLICY

Commission Bylaws

The formal bylaws adopted by the Commission describe its governance structure.

FORM

Complaint Form

This form is used to submit a complaint to WSCUC and includes the submission instructions and links to relevant policy documents.

POLICY

Complaints and Third-Party Comments Policy

WSCUC has two established means for receiving comments from concerned stakeholders about its member institutions: complaints and third-party comments. This document describes the WSCUC policy related to complaints and third-party comments as it pertains to member institutions and other parties in the process.

PROCESS

Consumer Protection

Alerts for the public on “degree mills” and “accreditation mills.”

WORKSHOPS & TRAINING MATERIALS

Do you and your loan servicer disagree about the balance or status of your loan?

For financial aid issues, please contact the Federal Student Aid Office of the Ombudsman at 1-877-557-2575, or review this resource.

WORKSHOPS & TRAINING MATERIALS

Educational Programs

WSCUC offers a variety of educational programming to help expand the skills of our community, including the Accreditation Resource Conference (ARC), the Assessment Leadership Academy (ALA), and webinars and workshops on various relevant topics.

PROCESS

Equity & Inclusion Statement

The Commission approved a bold, new statement on Equity & Inclusion at its June 25, 2021 meeting.

POLICY

Notice to U.S. Department of Education of Required Information Policy

This policy describes the Commission’s responsibility to notify the Secretary of Education of proposed changes in policies, procedures, or accreditation standards that would alter its status or scope of recognition or might alter compliance with the criteria for recognition.