Formed in 1962, the WASC Senior College and University Commission (“the Commission”) is a regional accrediting agency serving a diverse membership of public and private higher education institutions throughout California, Hawaii, and the Pacific as well as a limited number of institutions outside the U.S. Through its work of peer review, based on standards agreed to by the membership, the Commission encourages continuous institutional improvement and assures the membership and its constituencies, including the public, that accredited institutions are fulfilling their missions in service to their students and the public good.
The WASC Senior College and University Commission is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as certifying institutional eligibility for federal funding in a number of programs, including student access to federal financial aid.
There are three main accrediting commissions:
- Accrediting Commission for Schools (ASCWASC)
- Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC)
- Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities (WSCUC)
From the 2013 Accreditation Handbook:
The Standards of Accreditation consist of four broad, holistic statements that reflect widely accepted good practices in higher education. WSCUC institutions are diverse in terms of mission, character, and type. The Standards are broad enough to honor that diversity, respect institutional mission, and support institutional autonomy. At the same time, institutions must demonstrate that they are in substantial compliance with the four Standards and related Criteria for Review in order to become and remain accredited. The four Standards are:
- Standard 1: Defining Institutional Purposes and Ensuring Educational Objectives
- Standard 2: Achieving Educational Objectives Through Core Functions
- Standard 3: Developing and Applying Resources and Organizational Structures to Ensure Quality and Sustainability
- Standard 4: Creating an Organization Committed to Quality Assurance, Institutional Learning, and Improvement