This summer, USA reached another important milestone in its 35-year history when it was accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission. The voluntary process is rigorous, requiring reams of reports, peer-review committee visits, and countless hours of preparation. It’s a great accomplishment for the university, but what does it mean for the university community—and you?
First, there are two types of accreditation: institutional, which covers the entire university, and specialized or professional, which focuses on specific programs in a field of study.
WASC is an institutional accreditor, one of six regional accreditors recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. USA also has institutional accreditation from the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), which is a national accrediting body.
Here’s what regional institutional accreditation means for different members of the university community:
WASC accreditation demonstrates that USA meets rigorous standards and is committed to student learning and success, high standards of quality, and contributing to the public good. The review process confirms that an institution has the resources, policies, and practices in place to achieve its educational goals. It boosts the reputation of USA—and its students, alumni, faculty, and staff—with the academic community, clinical sites, and employers.
USA has several specialized accreditations: for physical therapy, occupational therapy, and continuing education. These are crucial for graduates whose professional associations require it.
The enhanced reputation of USA is a benefit for all graduates. But the biggest benefit is for alumni who are interested in teaching in their professions by returning to USA for a Doctor of Education (EdD) or Doctor of Health Science (DHSc), since many higher education institutions require that their full-time faculty have a degree from a regionally accredited university.
Current students are on track to graduate from a regionally accredited university that also has specialized accreditations in OT and PT. That’s something that employers often look for, as well as something that can help students if they decide to continue their education or teach at some point in their careers.
Regional accreditation gives USA greater flexibility to expand into other health sciences fields. That means new educational opportunities in different disciplines and the chance for students in USA’s current offerings to gain more interdisciplinary experience.