What is accreditation?
Regional accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission is the institutional foundation for accreditation of specialized programs based in Wayne's 13 schools and colleges, which are accredited by more than 50 agencies.
Only institutions of higher learning that have passed a rigorous inspection by what is known as an accrediting body or agency are accredited. The scope of accreditation can be institutional (regional), or specific to a single professional school/college or program within the university (specialized).
Wayne State academic programs are reviewed and accredited by more than 50 agencies; review cycles vary, with some accreditors requiring comprehensive reviews every three years, others requiring five- or ten-year reviews, and still others requiring comprehensive reviews every ten years with a more focused mid-cycle review.
The Office of the Provost submits a comprehensive Status Report on Accreditation (PDF) to the Board of Governors annually.
Why do institutions participate in accreditation processes?
Wayne State University participates in external accreditation for many reasons, among them to:
- Assure students, prospective students, and the public of the quality and integrity of the institution and its programs;
- Ensure programs meet specific and changing certification or licensing requirements;
- Continuously improve the quality within its programs;
- Maintain eligibility to offer new degrees and certifications;
- Sustain institutional and student access to federally subsidized financial aid;
- Enable programs to receive public funding, including grants and contracts; and
- Promote institutional accountability.
Every United States institution of higher learning belongs to one of six regions, each with an agency that oversees accreditation of colleges and universities in its states. The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is the accrediting agency for the 19-state, north central region that includes the state of Michigan. Because regional accreditation is nearly always a prerequisite to specialized accreditation of professional schools or programs, it is of paramount importance to institutions of higher learning.
Regional accreditation validates overall quality by a comprehensive evaluation of an institution's performance in the following areas:
- The mission and how it drives strategy, academic programming, and operations;
- Overall awareness of the mission among the institution's internal and external constituency groups and inclusiveness of the planning process;
- Mission-based, ethical, and independent governance and administration;
- Institutional responsiveness to the unique demographic profile and challenges of its community, as well as to a multicultural society;
- Academic program quality and ongoing assessment of teaching and learning outcomes;
- Organizational capability, including finances and resources;
- Embedded processes for ensuring continuous improvement; and
- Federal compliance.