Accreditation / Assessment / Academic Program Review

Accreditation / Assessment / Academic Program Review

Accreditation

Accreditation of an institution of higher education by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities indicates that it meets or exceeds criteria for the assessment of institutional quality evaluated through a peer-review process. An accredited college or university is one which has available the necessary resources to achieve its stated purposes through appropriate educational programs, is substantially doing so, and gives reasonable evidence that it will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

Institutional Accreditation

Portland State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Accreditation by the NWCCU is not partial but applies to the institution as a whole. As such, it is not a guarantee of every course or program offered, or the competence of individual graduates. Rather, it provides reasonable assurance about the quality of opportunities available to students who attend the institution.

Because accreditation by the NWCCU refers to the institution as a whole, statements like “fully accredited” or “this program is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities” or “this degree is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities” are incorrect and should not be used.

Accreditation of PSU

Accreditation of Portland State University was reaffirmed in fall 2015, after a comprehensive self-evaluation report. The next Year Seven Report is due for submission to the NWCCU in fall of 2022. For the most recent NWCCU affirmation letter, Mid Cycle Report, and other documentation, please refer to Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities Resources below.

Frequently Asked Questions regarding NWCCU accreditation and PSU's accreditation status (2019).

Contact

Inquiries regarding an institution's accredited status by the NWCCU should be directed to Brian Sandlin,
Accreditation and Compliance Coordinator, 503-725-5252, bsandlin@pdx.edu.

Individuals may also contact NWCCU:

Northwest Commission on College and Universities
8060 165th Avenue N.E., Suite 200
Redmond, WA. 98052
(425) 558-4224
www.nwccu.org

Process for Filing a Complaint about PSU to the NWCCU

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Assessment

The assessment of student learning at Portland State is a decentralized process that is performed at the program and college level. All programs are required to have program-level learning outcomes and to assess student learning related to these outcomes. 

The Institutional Assessment Council (IAC) serves as the primary resource for assessment policy on campus while the Office of Academic Innovation is the primary resource for helping programs with their assessment activities.

The charge of the IAC is to "create principles and recommendations for assessment planning that are sustainable and learning‐focused, and provides support aimed at enhancing the quality of student learning through assessment activities. The Council has designed a framework for promoting and supporting assessment long term, both at the program and institution levels. The IAC serves as the primary advisory mechanism for institutional assessment planning and coordinates with the assistant and associate deans group the implementation of systematic Annual Assessment Updates and Academic Program Review by the schools and colleagues."

Available Resources:

The IAC has developed a website and a rubric to assist programs with assessment planning and practice. 

For specific questions about assessment practices, the Office of Academic Innovation is available to provide assistance.  You may reach OAI at 503-725-6624 or oai@pdx.edu.

Annual Assessment Update

Every year in the Spring quarter, OAA with help from OIRP will circulate a survey to all degree programs that is designed for the programs to report on their assessment activities.

The questions relate to a programs student learning outcomes and how the program assesses student learning.  The survey goes on to ask for examples of how a program has used the results of assessment to improve.

The Office of Academic Innovation will be provided with the survey results and will be available to work with programs on improving their assessment practices.

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Academic Program Review

Careful initiation and continued review of academic programs are key to an institution's viability and reputation. Not only does such an approach provide a level of quality assurance to the public, it also contributes to the broader portfolio of the state's system of public universities.

The review process employed by Portland State University serves to track the success of each program and identify its unique strengths. It provides a systematic way to improve programs by examining:

  • Adequacy of resources needed to sustain a quality offering;
  • Continued ability to address access and market demand;
  • Currency of the curriculum within the evolution of the discipline or field; and
  • Success of the program in terms of student learning.

Usually conducted through a form of self-study or external accreditation, the process for the ongoing review of existing programs engages faculty, administrators, graduates, and community partners in a thoughtful exploration that parallels many of the same elements reviewed during the program's initial approval. Results help reaffirm an institution's commitment to a program area, confirm the program's linkage with the institution's mission and strategic plan, and provide useful data for the institution's planning cycle.

At PSU, this process includes rigorous review and approval processes for all new programs and certificates, as well as a systematic review of all existing programs carried out at the college/school level.

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