Academic Credit. 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)
Academic Year. Instruction equivalent of two semesters of approximately 15 weeks apiece or 3 quarters of approximately 10 weeks apiece, either of which may include examination days. (See Credit, Unit of)
Accreditation. 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.
Accreditation Association or Commission. 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 U.S. Secretary 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).
Accreditation - Institutional. 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.
Accreditation - Regional. A status of affiliation accorded an institution by a recognized accrediting association or commission that conducts accreditation procedures in three or more states.
Accreditation - Specialized. 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.
Accreditation Liaison Officer. An individual selected by the chief executive officer of an institution from the faculty or administration to work with appropriate individuals or agencies on matters of accreditation.
Accreditation Status. Formal recognition given an institution or specialized program for meeting established standards of educational quality, as determined by regional, national, or specialized non-governmental accrediting bodies.
Accrediting. The process whereby an agency or association grants formal recognition to a school, institute, college, university, or specialized program of study which meets certain established qualifications and educational standards, as determined through initial and periodic evaluations.
|AACRAO||American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers|
|ACE||American Council on Education|
|ALO||Accreditation Liaison Officer|
|CAEL||Council for Adult and Experiential Learning|
|CEU||Continuing Education Unit|
|CHEA||Council for Higher Education Accreditation|
|CLEP||College Level Examination Program|
|CUBA||College and University Business Administration|
|GED||General Education Development Testing Program|
|GPA||Grade Point Average|
|GRE||Graduate Record Examination|
|IPEDS||Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System|
|NACUBO||National Association of College and University Business Officers|
|NAFSA||National Association of Foreign Student Affairs|
|NASC||Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges|
|NCHEMS||National Center for Higher Education Management Systems|
|TOEFL||Test of English as a Foreign Language|
|USDE||U.S. Department of Education|
Admission Policy. 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.
Adverse (Negative) Accrediting Action. The denial or withdrawal of accreditation or candidate status by a recognized accrediting association or commission.
Appeal. An appeal of a Commission decision to the President of the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges in accordance with due process as described in the appeal procedures.
Approval. 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.
Branch Campus. 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 (CFR 602.2).
Candidate for Accreditation. Candidate for Accreditation is a status of preliminary affiliation 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 is progressing toward accreditation.
Catalog. The official bulletin or publication of a postsecondary 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.
Certification. 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.
College. Generic term to denote any of the postsecondary educational institutions including universities eligible for accreditation or accredited by the Commission. In this Handbook, the term does not refer to a specialized unit of a university campus; it is used as a synonym for "institution."
Commission. Refers to the Commission on Colleges of the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges.
Community Service. (See Public Service)
Complaint. A written complaint to the Commission against an institution. (See Policy A-14 - Complaints Regarding Member or Candidate Institutions)
Comprehensive Self-Study. An analysis by its own staff of an institution's educational resources and effectiveness in relation to its stated mission and goals.
Consultant. A person who gives professional or technical advice and assistance. The services may or may not be performed under contract.
Continuing 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.
Continuing Education Unit (CEU). A unit of measure for non-credit activities. (See Policy A-9 - Non-Credit, Extension, and Continuing Education Studies)
Cooperative Education. 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.
Correspondence, Instruction by. Instruction approved through appropriate institutional channels, which provides for the systematic exchange of course materials, by mail, between the instructor and student.
Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). A national organization representing institutional and specialized accrediting agencies and the general public.
Course. A single instructional subject commonly described by title, number, and credits in the college catalog or bulletin.
Credentials. (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.
Credit, Unit of. 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.
Disclosure and Confidentiality of Information. 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 Commission on Colleges to maintain the confidentiality of the institutional self-study and report of the evaluation committee.
Educational Auditing Standards. 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.
Eligibility (Federal Government). A status granted by the federal government indicating that an institution qualifies for consideration as a participant in a federal funding project.
Eligibility Requirements, Commission on Colleges. 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. (See Accreditation Procedure - Elegibility Requirements)
Evaluation. 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; 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 further consideration of and action upon its self-study, the evaluation committee's report, and the accrediting commission's action.
Evaluation Committee. 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.
Experiential Learning. Learning acquired from work and life experiences, mass media, and independent reading and study. (See Standard 2.3 - Policy on Credit for Prior Learning)
External Degree Program. 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.
Faculty. 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 full-time faculty if a portion of their assignment is research, service, or academic administration. Part-time or Adjunct Faculty: 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 Student. Full-time status is usually computed as 15 credits per term for undergraduate and 10 to 12 credits per term for graduate students.
General Education Development (GED). 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.
Guidelines. Explanatory statements which amplify the standards or 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.
Higher Education. Postsecondary education emphasizing degrees and credentials rather than solely trade or vocational preparation.
Independent College. College or university with self-perpetuating, or otherwise not publicly chosen, board, and little, if any, direct tax support.
Institution. 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.
Institution - Additional Facility or Branch. An additional facility or branch is a component part, except for geographic location, of an institution located within normal commuting distance (generally not more than 30 miles) of the institution. The additional facility or branch 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.
Institution - Operationally Separate. 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.
Institution - Senior Colleges and Universities. Institutions that grant the baccalaureate degree and/or graduate degrees.
I.P.E.D.S. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System is designed to gather institutional level data, allows aggregation at various levels, and permits controls on data quality through follow-up and editing.
Level. Refers to placement of students at a certain level of college work, i.e., first two years or associate degree, upper division or bachelor's degree, first level graduate or master's degree, professional degree or Ph.D.
Licensure. 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.
Member Institution. An institution that has met the conditions of eligibility and standards and has been granted accreditation status by an accrediting body.
Mission and Goals Statement. The statement in which an institution identifies and demonstrates thereby its understanding of its unique mission and goals. Particular institutional purposes vary widely. They encompass the intellectual and affective development of the student, the pursuit of knowledge, the study of values and attitudes, public service, and a great deal more. 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. Planning. 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.
Postsecondary Education. Education offered by institutions primarily to individuals 18 or older; admission may or may not require a high school diploma or equivalent credential.
Postsecondary Institutions, Types of.
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
President. A generic term signifying the chief executive of an institution. Chancellor, director, etc., may be substituted.
Prior Experiential Learning (credit for). 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.
Private College. (See Independent College)
Program. A systematic, usually sequential, grouping of courses, forming a considerable part, or all, of the requirements for a degree or a credential. May refer to the total educational offering of an institution.
Public College. College or university with governing board elected or appointed by elected officials. Much of the financial support comes from tax funds.
Public Representative. Any individual who serves on an accrediting body as a representative of the public interest and who does not simultaneously hold any paid or appointed position as an employee or officer of an educational institution, institutional or professional association, or agency of the government which deals primarily with postsecondary education. A public representative could, however, be a trustee or a member of a board of control of a postsecondary educational institution.
Public Service. A function accepted by nearly all publicly supported institutions and many independent colleges and universities. 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.
Quality - Educational. The attainments of students as described either in terms of a level of intellectual proficiency or amount of cognitive growth.
Reapplication. 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.
Reasonable Assurance. 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)
Recommendation. May refer either to the evaluation committee's final statements or its confidential advice to the Commission on Colleges regarding an institution's accreditation or candidacy status.
Reports Requested by the Commission on Colleges.
This is a brief form mailed each January to candidate and member institutions to be completed and returned to the Commission office. The purpose of the form is to help the Commission be informed of significant changes taking place at institutions, such as substantive changes, serious budget deficits, crucial enrollment changes, etc. (See Accreditation Procedures - Member Dues, Annual Report)
Frequently called a "Candidate Biennial Report," this is a written report required as a condition of being a Candidate for Accreditation. It is always coupled with an on-site visit by one or more Commission representatives. (See Accreditation Procedure - Candidate for Accreditation, Loss of Candidate Status)
A comprehensive self-study and an evaluation committee visit are requested by the Commission in these instances:
This is a written report to address one or more specified concerns that are of such moment that the Commission wishes to have a representative visit the institution. The focused interim report and visit do not replace the regular fifth-year interim report and visit.
This is a written report that is prepared by continuing members during the fifth year after a full-scale evaluation. It is to address two areas:
An interim report is always coupled with an on-site visit by one or more Commission representatives. When the interim report and the evaluator's report are considered at the subsequent Commission meeting, an institutional representative is not expected to attend the discussion.
This is a written report to address one or more specified concerns of the Commission. There is no visit by a Commission representative.
This is a written report required of all newly accredited institutions. A new member institution is to submit a written progress report during the third year.
Research. 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).
Sanctions. 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.
Scholarship (Scholarly Activity). 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.
Self-Evaluation or Self-Study. (See Comprehensive Self-Study, and Number 3)
Show-Cause. When the Commission finds that an institution has not taken satisfactory steps to remove the causes for its having been placed on Probation, or when an institution has not responded to a Warning issued by the Commission or to conditions imposed on it by the Commission, or when an institution neither under Warning, nor on Probation, is found to have deviated substantially from Commission standards, policies, or eligibility requirements, the Commission may require the institution to show cause why its candidacy or accreditation should not be terminated at the end of a stated period. In such cases, the burden rests with the institution to demonstrate why its candidacy or accreditation should be continued beyond the stated period. The candidate or accredited status of the institution continues during the show-cause period, and any new site or degree program initiated by the institution will be regarded as a major substantive change (for further information, see Policy A-2 - Substantive Change). In addition, the institution will be subject to special monitoring by the Commission, which may include a requirement to submit periodic prescribed reports and to receive special visits by representatives of the Commission.
Standards (or Criteria) for Accreditation - Specialized Programs. The criteria, developed by the membership of a recognized accrediting association in collaboration with appropriate national organizations, by which an educational program is accredited and admitted to membership in the association.
Substantive Change. 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 Policy A-2 - Substantive Change)
Teach Out Agreement. A written agreement between accredited institutions that provides for the equitable treatment of students if one of those institutions stops offering an educational program before all students enrolled in that program complete the program (34 CFR 602.2).
Telecommunications, Instruction by. Instruction approved through appropriate institutional channels, which provides for the systematic exchange of course materials between the instructor and student by electronic communication.
Tenure. The employment status of a faculty or staff member whose employment is not subject to termination by the governing board, except in stipulated circumstances.
Terminal Contract. 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.
Unfunded Student Financial Aid. 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 (e.g., Rotary, Elks) contributes for the tuition of students. It is the amount of the total tuition cash receipts generated from enrollments that the institution is willing to forego in order to attract and retain students.
University. A large, multi-purpose institution with extensive graduate degree offerings, library, and other resources, and/or several schools with graduate offerings.
Vocational Education. An instructional program, below the bachelor's level, designed to prepare individuals with the skills and training required for employment in a specific trade, occupation, or profession related to the instructional program (34 CFR 602.2).
Warning. 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 does not affect the candidate or accredited status of the institution, and will not be made public by the Commission.