The Office of the Provost oversees all accreditation and assessment activities across Washington University in St. Louis.
Washington University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1913. The HLC is one of six regional accreditors recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Regional accreditation assures institutional quality by verifying that an institution (1) meets threshold standards and (2) is engaged in continuous improvement. The HLC assesses and evaluates academic programs, student services, governance and administration.
Washington University participates in the HLC’s Open Pathway accreditation process. This process features a ten-year cycle which focuses on both assurance and improvement. Our current 10-year cycle takes place between 2015 and 2025. There are Assurance Reviews in Years 4 and 10. Between Years 5 and 9 of the ten-year cycle, Washington University will propose and complete a Quality Initiative. In year 10, Washington University will undergo a comprehensive evaluation. Components of the 2024 comprehensive evaluation can be found here.
In addition to the university-wide accreditation, each of Washington University’s six schools is accredited in regular intervals by their school’s professional organization.
Assessment of student learning and assessment of student activities represent a vital part of Washington University’s periodic institutional accreditation mandated by the HLC.
Assessment is the process of documenting — usually in measurable terms — knowledge, skills, and attitudes of the individual learner and/or the learning community (class, department, program, school).
Assessment assists faculty and administrators in understanding and improving the student experience. Faculty identifies learning goals and assesses learning outcomes at the level of the course, department (majors and minors), school, or university.
The University Assessment Committee is charged with the following:
- Advise the vice provost on assessment best practices on campus
- Develop and oversee General Education assessment (including those associated with annual Literacy and Numeracy assessment) and advise on other assessment initiatives related to undergraduate learning
- Solicit feedback on assessments currently underway and those being planned
- Find ways that the institution as a whole, as well as the individual schools, can gain fuller benefit from necessary assessment work done in pursuit of accreditation, curriculum development, and program review, as well as more-recent efforts to address educational equity and access and a host of related concerns.
Jennifer Smith, Vice Provost for Educational Initiatives
Jill Edwards, Senior Project Manager, University Accreditation