The use of a standardized test approved by U.S. Department of Education to determine the ability of a student to benefit from the instruction available from an institution. The test must be independently administered in accordance with U.S. Department of Education regulations.
A chronology of dates for a scheduled period of instruction which includes an institution’s dates for class registration, additions and deletions to course schedules, beginning and ending for the term of instruction, institutionally-scheduled examinations, and deadline for applications for graduation.
Credit applicable toward a degree or credential at the institution awarding it, accepting it on transfer, or acknowledging equivalency from learning experience adequately substantiated. See Credit, Unit of.
Instruction equivalent of two semesters of approximately 15 weeks each or 3 quarters of approximately 10 weeks each, either of which may include examination days. (See Credit, Unit of.)
The process by which a private, non-governmental body evaluates an educational institution or program of study and formally recognizes it as having met certain predetermined criteria or standards. The process involves initial and periodic self-study and evaluation by peers. Accreditation implies stimulation toward quality improvement beyond the minimum standards specified by the accrediting body. The essential purpose of the accreditation process is to provide a professional judgment as to the quality of the educational institution or program offered and to encourage continual improvement thereof.
A recognized and voluntary nongovernmental body established to administer accrediting procedures. An accrediting body is formally acknowledged, or recognized, as being a reliable authority concerning the quality of education or training offered by educational institutions or programs by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education and/or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. It is a voluntary organization and not established by the federal or state governments or any agency, department, or office thereof. An accrediting body may be identified by scope (institutional or specialized program) or area (regional, interregional, or national).
A status of affiliation with a recognized accrediting body that accords accreditation to an entire institution, indicating that each of its parts is contributing to the achievement of the institution’s objectives, although not necessarily all on the same level.
Institutional accreditation awarded by an accreditation body within a prescribed geographic region of the United Stated as recognized by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education.
A status of affiliation accorded a unit or program by a recognized specialized accrediting body. The unit accredited may be a school, department, program, or curriculum. It may be a part of a total educational institution or may be an independent, specialized institution.
An individual selected by the chief executive officer of an institution to work with appropriate individuals or agencies on matters of accreditation.
Formal recognition given an institution or specialized program for meeting established standards of educational quality, as determined by regional, national, or specialized nongovernmental accrediting bodies.
The rationale which determines the applicants who shall be admitted to an institution. Consideration is given to the role assigned to the institution by its governing body; the programs, resources, and facilities of the institution; and the qualifications and goals of the applicant.
The denial or withdrawal of accreditation or candidate status by a recognized accreditation association or commission.
A petition for reconsideration of a negative decision by a recognized accreditation association or commission in accordance with due process as described in the appeal procedures.
The official act of a state department of education or other recognized agency having official authority certifying that a unit of educational organization (a school, institute, college, university, or specialized program of studies) complies with the minimum legal requirements of such units. Official approval, granted by governmental agencies or the governing body of a school system, is distinguished from accreditation, which is accorded by voluntary nongovernmental accrediting agencies.
A location of an institution that is geographically apart and independent of the main campus and (1) is permanent in nature; (2) offers at least 50% of the courses of an educational program leading to a degree, certificate, or other educational credential; (3) has its own faculty and administrative organization; and (4) has its own budgetary and hiring authority (34 CFR 600.2).
Candidate for Accreditation is a preaccreditation affiliate status with the Commission following a specified procedure for application, institutional self-study, and on-site evaluation. Candidacy is not accreditation and does not ensure eventual accreditation. It is an indication that an institution complies with the Eligibility Requirements and is progressing toward accreditation.
The official bulletin or publication of a higher education institution stating admission and graduation requirements, majors, minors, current offerings, costs, faculty, and all other significant information necessary for an accurate understanding of the institution.
A process by which an agency or association grants recognition to an individual who has met certain predetermined qualifications specified by that agency or association.
Generic term to denote any of the postsecondary educational institutions (including universities) eligible for accreditation or accredited by the Commission and does not refer to a specialized unit of a university. It is used as a synonym for “institution.”
Refers to the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
See Public Service.
A written complaint to the Commission against a member or candidate institution. (See Complaints Regarding Member or Candidate Institutions Policy.)
An institution’s self-analysis of its educational quality and institutional effectiveness in relation to its stated mission and goals.
A real or perceived circumstance that compromises an individual’s capacity to render a fair and impartial decision regarding the accreditation status of an institution.
A person who gives professional or technical advice and assistance. The services may or may not be performed under contract.
A contract which continues automatically from year to year without action on the part of the governing board, but may be terminated through appropriate action on the part of the parties involved.
A unit of measure for non-credit activities.
A combination program of study and practice – conducted on an alternating schedule of half days, weeks, or other period of time – providing employment for students with organized on-the-job training and correlated higher education instruction.
Instruction approved through appropriate institutional channels, which provides for the systematic exchange of course materials, by mail, between the instructor and student.
A national voluntary membership organization representing institutional and specialized accrediting agencies and the general public.
A single instructional subject commonly described by title, number, credits, and expected learning outcomes in the college catalog or bulletin.
(1) A certificate stating that the student has been graduated from a certain curriculum or has passed certain subjects; (2) a statement signed by proper authority certifying that a person is authorized to perform certain functions or has been designated as an official representative; (3) a detailed record of an applicant for a position, usually including transcripts of academic records and testimonials relative to previous experience, performance, and character; (4) the confidential file of an applicant sent to prospective employers.
A quantification of student academic learning. One unit represents what a typical student might be expected to learn in one week (40-45 hours including class time and preparation) of full-time study. Thus a six-week summer session might, if full-time, equate to six units. An alternative norm is one unit for three hours of student work per week (e.g., one hour of lecture and two of study or three of laboratory) for ten weeks a quarter or 15 weeks a semester. A full-time undergraduate student program is usually about 15 units but not less than 12; a full-time graduate program is usually 10 to 12 units. Considerable excess allowed on ground of student ability should be subject to special analysis and approval.
Associate of Arts (A.A.), Associate of Science (A.S.), Applied Associate of Science (A.A.S.). A lower division undergraduate degree normally representing about two years (60 semester or 90 quarter units) of college study or its equivalent in depth and quality of learning experience. The A.A. degree implies more liberal education orientation, the A.S. degree implies a more applied education orientation, and the A.A.S. implies a highly applied educational orientation.
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Science (B.S.). An undergraduate degree normally representing about four years (120 semester or 180 quarter units) of college study, or its equivalent in depth and quality of learning experience. The B.A. degree implies a more liberal education orientation and the B.S. degree implies a more applied educational orientation.
Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Science (M.S.). A first graduate degree, representing about one year (30 semester or 45 quarter units) of post-baccalaureate study, or its equivalent in depth and quality. The distinctions between M.A. and M.S. are similar to those between B.A. and B.S. Some M.A. and M.S. degrees are merely continuations at a higher level of undergraduate work without basic change in character. Some degrees emphasize research while others emphasize practical application of knowledge in the field. M.B.A., M.P.A., M.S.W., etc. Professional masters degrees requiring up to two years or equivalent of coursework beyond the baccalaureate level.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). A research-oriented doctoral degree which indicates the recipient has done, and is prepared to do, original research in a major discipline. Usually requires three years or more of graduate-level coursework level requiring an original research thesis or project. Ed.D., Psy.D, M.D., J.D., etc. Professional doctoral degrees with emphasis on application of knowledge in the field. Normally requires three or more years of carefully prescribed graduate level coursework.
Every institution seeking candidacy, accreditation, or reaccreditation is obliged to provide any information with respect to the institutional affairs pertinent to determination of the institution’s accreditation status. It is the obligation of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities to maintain the confidentiality of the institutional self-study and report of the evaluation committee.
A formal educational process in which the majority of the instruction occurs when student and instructor are not in the same place. Instruction may be synchronous or asynchronous. Distance education may employ correspondence study, or audio, video or electronically mediated technologies.
Measures of an acceptable level of quality, as determined by an independent auditor (who is expert in accounting principles and practices and in auditing methods). The objective of the audit process is an opinion upon the fairness of the presentation of results of operations for a given period of time and upon the fairness of the presentation of the financial position at the end of the given period of time.
A status granted by the federal government indicating that an institution qualifies for consideration as a participant in a federal funding project.
The characteristics of an institution and the conditions required by the Commission for consideration as a Candidate for Accreditation, for initial accreditation, and for continued membership.
A process periodically and jointly conducted by the institution and the accrediting agency, which may take a number of forms. It will include the following, regardless of form: 1) the institution’s self-study report; 2) the evaluation committee’s report; 3) the institution’s response to the evaluation committee report; 4) the accrediting commission’s action; 5) the institution’s follow-up action to the self-study, the evaluation committee’s report, and the accrediting commission’s action.
A committee, comprised chiefly of personnel from an accrediting association’s member institutions and chosen specifically for competencies relevant to the institution being evaluated, which conducts an on-site evaluation based upon the institution’s self-study document and supporting documentation. The committee’s major assignment is to make a considered group judgment, as informed colleagues, on the institution’s educational effectiveness, viewed in the light of its stated mission and goals. Evaluation committee visits usually last three days. Before leaving the campus, the chair of the committee reports orally on the committee’s view of the institution, presenting in summary form the substance of the written committee report which will be produced.
Learning acquired from work and life experiences, mass media, and independent reading and study.
A course of study different from traditional degree programs, which may or may not require on-campus study or residence, and which often relies heavily on independent study and examination.
As used here, refers to instructional faculty, not librarians, administrators, counselors, etc., who may have faculty rank. Full-time faculty: those employed by the institution, the majority of whose assignment is class or course instruction, but which may also include institutional non-class-related faculty responsibilities such as academic advisement, curricular development and review, faculty selection and evaluation, and the like. Those performing these functions may also be considered fulltime faculty if a portion of their assignment is research, service, or academic administration.
Faculty whose major responsibility is not related to the institution in question; customarily assigned one or two classes with class-related responsibilities only.
Full-time status is usually computed as 15 credits per term for undergraduate and 10 to 12 credits per term for graduate students.
An essential collegiate-level component of associate and baccalaureate degree programs designed to foster effective independent lifelong learning by introducing students to the content and methodology of the major domains of knowledge.
A battery of tests taken by adults who did not graduate from high school, to measure the extent to which their past experiences have contributed to their attaining the knowledge, skills, and understandings ordinarily acquired through a high school education.
Explanatory statements which amplify the criteria for accreditation or which provide examples of how the requirements may be interpreted to allow for flexibility, yet remain within the framework of the standards or criteria.
Postsecondary education emphasizing degrees and credentials rather than training limited to skill development within a specific trade.
An educational program or course that includes both face-to-face and distance education. Also known by the name “blended” and, sometimes, other terms.
College or university with self-perpetuating, or otherwise not publicly chosen, board, and little, if any, direct tax support.
Educational institutions which have a core of full-time faculty, a separate student body, and a resident administration, and which offer programs comprising a totality of educational experience. (See “College.”)
An additional facility or branch is a component part, except for geographic location, of an institution. The additional facility may be a degree-granting division or unit of an institution and legally authorized for a stated purpose in relation to the parent institution and the area served. It may have planned programs leading to undergraduate, graduate, or professional degrees which are granted by or in the name of the parent institution.
An institution that is under the general control of a parent institution or a central administration in a multi-unit system. It has a core of full-time faculty, a separate student body, a resident administration, and it offers programs comprising a totality of educational experience as defined by the appropriate regional accrediting body.
Institutions that grant an associate degree.
Institutions that grant a baccalaureate degree and/or graduate degree.
The pursuit of knowledge governed and administered with respect for individuals in a nondiscriminatory manner while responding to the educational needs and legitimate claims of the constituencies it serves, as determined by its mission and goals.
Refers to placement of students at a certain level of college work, i.e., lower division (first two years) or associate degree, upper division (last two years) or bachelor’s degree, first level graduate or master’s degree, terminal professional degree or Ph.D.
The process by which an agency of the government grants permission 1) to persons meeting predetermined qualifications to engage in a given occupation and/or use of a particular title, or 2) to institutions to perform specified functions.
An institution that has met the conditions of eligibility and standards and has been granted accreditation status by an accrediting body.
The statement in which an institution identifies its mission and goals. It reflects institutional values and encompasses the intellectual and affective development of the student, the pursuit of knowledge, the study of values and attitudes, and public service. The institution’s statement of mission describes its particular philosophic stance and serves as a guide for educational planning. It also operates as a frame of reference for decisions about such practical matters as student admission and retention, the curriculum, the faculty, and allocation of funds.
An action by a recognized accreditation association or commission to deny or withdraw candidacy or accreditation, issue or continue a Show-Cause order, or issue or continue Probation.
The process by which the mission and goals of an institution are determined and the means to achieve them are specified. Institutional planning incorporates the institution’s statement of purpose and comprehensive self-study with plans that take into account the possible need for modification of goals, clientele served, programs offered, educational methods employed, and modes of support utilized.
Education offered by institutions primarily to individuals 18 or older; admission may or may not require a high school diploma or equivalent credential.
A Common Language for Postsecondary Accreditation: Categories and Definitions for Data Collection, National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) and Council on Postsecondary Accreditation (COPA), 1985.
A generic term signifying the chief executive officer of an institution.
Credit granted toward the award of a certificate or degree for prior learning experiences that can be shown through various means of assessment to be the equivalent of learning gained through formal collegiate instruction.
See Independent College
A negative sanction indicating that a candidate or accredited institution fails to respond to the concerns (including Warning) communicated by the Commission, or when it deviates significantly from the Commission’s standards, policies, or eligibility requirements, but not to such an extent as to warrant the issuing of a Show-Cause order or withdrawal of candidacy or accreditation, the institution may be placed on Probation for a specified period of time. While on Probation, the institution may be subject to monitoring by the Commission, which may include a requirement to submit periodic prescribed reports and to receive visits for evaluation by representatives of the Commission. In addition, during the period of Probation, any new site or degree program initiated by the institution will be regarded as a major substantive change. (See Substantive Change Policy). The candidate or accredited status of the institution continues during the probation period.
A postsecondary educational program offered by an institution of higher education that leads to an academic or professional degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential.
College or university with governing board elected or appointed by elected officials and supported by public funding.
A public member of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities is any individual who represents the public interest and is not:
Service of a practical nature to the external (non-academic) community – local, regional, national, or international. Often includes public lectures and performances, various forms of applied research, non-credit courses, and agricultural or other similar forms of extension.
The achievement of student learning outcomes as described either in terms of a level of intellectual proficiency or amount of cognitive growth.
The procedure used when an institution that had not been granted accreditation because of deficiencies noted in the evaluation report again seeks accreditation after correcting the deficiencies.
An indication by a regional association that an unaccredited institution appears to have the potential and to be making appropriate progress which, if continued, will result in its meeting accreditation requirements on a normal schedule. See Candidate for Accreditation.
May refer either to the evaluation committee’s final statements or its confidential advice to the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities regarding an institution’s accreditation or candidacy status.
An evaluator’s private non-binding recommendation to the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities regarding the accreditation of an institution.
A recognizable body of instruction in program-related areas of communication, computation, and human relations for applied or specialized associate degree or certificate programs of 30 semester credits or 45 quarter credits in length.
May refer to collection of institutional data useful for self-analysis or planning (institutional research), to that carried on by teacher-scholars in order to remain current in their fields of expertise, or to that which expands the field of knowledge or its application (“pure” or “applied” research).
May be applied to an institution when the Commission concludes that the institution is in serious noncompliance with one or more Commission standards, policies, or eligibility requirements. The intent of a sanction is to highlight the immediate need for an institution to bring itself into compliance.
Commitment to the pursuit of truth or knowledge. All faculty in institutions of higher education are expected to devote continuing study to their respective fields of knowledge or professions in order that they may be aware of the most recent developments and information in their fields and thus be prepared to perform their teaching function at an appropriate level.
See Comprehensive Self-Study
When the Commission finds that an institution has not taken satisfactory steps to address identified concerns or when an institution is found to be in serious non-compliance with the Commission’s accreditation criteria, it may require the institution to show-cause why its candidacy or accreditation should not be terminated In such cases, the burden rests with the institution to demonstrate why its candidacy or accreditation should be continued. The candidate or accredited status of the institution continues during the period of Show-Cause, and the institution will be subject to Commission monitoring, which may include a requirement to submit prescribed reports and to receive visits for evaluation by Commission representatives.
The criteria, consisting of Eligibility Requirements, Standards, and related Policies, developed by the membership of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities by which an institution is evaluated and admitted for initial and continuing membership.
A change that significantly alters an institution’s objectives or the scope of its offerings; alters its autonomy, sponsorship, or the locus of control over it; embarks on offering off-campus academic programs for credit; changes the geographic area(s) served; or offers programs or courses for academic credit on a military base. (See Substantive Change Policy)
Provision by an institution for the equitable treatment of students if the institution closes or discontinues an educational program before all students enrolled in that program complete it.
Instructional. Instruction which provides for the systematic exchange of course materials between the instructor and student by electronic communication.
The employment status of a faculty or staff member whose employment is not subject to termination by the governing board, except in stipulated circumstances.
A contract agreement setting beginning and ending dates of employment of a faculty or staff member with no legal obligation that the expiration of the contract is to be followed by another contract agreement.
Refers to that portion of total student financial aid that is purely institutional assistance. It is the total amount of tuition scholarships that is awarded, but is not covered by endowment earnings and annual contributions designated for tuition scholarships, federal, state, or local funding, or monies an outside group contributes for student tuition. It is the amount of total tuition generated from enrollments the institution foregoes to attract and retain students.
A large, multi-purpose institution with extensive graduate degree offerings, library, and other resources, and/or several schools with graduate offerings.
Organized educational programs offering courses or instruction in a sequence or aggregation of competencies that are directly related to preparation for employment in occupations requiring other than a baccalaureate or advanced degree. These programs must include competency-based applied learning that contributes to an individual’s academic knowledge, higher-order reasoning and problem-solving skills, necessary for economic independence as a productive and contributing member of society.
When the Commission finds that an institution has pursued a course that, if continued, could lead to more serious sanctions, it may issue to the institution a Warning to correct its deficiencies, to refrain from certain activities, or to initiate certain activities within a stated period of time. A Warning is a public sanction and does not affect the candidate or accredited status of the institution.