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.
In September 2014, Washington University underwent our 10-year on-site evaluation visit by a team of trained peer reviewers assigned by the HLC. See the peer review team’s report and recommendations, as well as more information about Washington University’s 2014 reaccreditation process, on the reaccreditation website.
As of 2015, 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 10-year cycle will take 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.
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.
In support of assessment, the Task Force on Undergraduate Education convened in 2010, producing a final report and next steps. Currently, the University Assessment Committee provides guidance and support in this effort.