In 2007, Capilano University embarked upon a successful process to become accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), one of six independent regional organizations sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Education to evaluate post-secondary institutions.
Accreditation is a rather complex topic. Hopefully the following provides some useful background.
Students, past and present, played a vital role in the accreditation process, right from the beginning. In fact, we couldn’t, and wouldn’t have achieved this milestone without them and you.
After being designated a university in 2008, the President hosted a series of ‘world café’ meetings and open forums to solicit input from all constituents—faculty, students, staff, and the wider community. The student voice was also represented by the Student Union through ongoing consultation and by the four students elected to Senate. This engagement helped shape the strategic direction of the new university and to identify the core themes which became the framework for accreditation process.
For example, the Capilano Students' Union (CSU) Lounge came about as a result of the consultation process which identified the need for increased social spaces on campus.
As accreditation is a pathway for continuous improvement, students will also have the opportunity to provide feedback and input and be a part of the decision-making process as we continue to implement the programs, services and initiatives we identified as part of the accreditation process.
We offer a diverse range of employment-focused degrees, diplomas and certificates. Although graduating from an accredited university does not guarantee a job, it can help. It says to prospective employers and recruiters that you have a quality education and have something to contribute when joining their organization. Capilano University (CapU) has a reputation for producing job-ready candidates who through a combination of course work, practicums and other enhanced learning experiences, bring a well-rounded perspective to the workplace and their community.
We don’t have to tell you it’s up to you to make the most of the opportunities presented by your program and your experiences at CapU—your success is our success!
An EQA designation is an indication that a post-secondary institution meets or exceeds the provincial government's quality assurance standards. Capilano University's EQA designation is recognized globally as a symbol of quality education and consumer protection.
Perhaps most important is the security accreditation brings our foreign students. It serves as an added layer when it comes to credibility and accountability.
As the NWCCU accreditation is an internationally recognized designation, it offers greater recognition by post-secondary institutions in a student’s home country and abroad and can impact transferability.
Also, international students may now be eligible for national scholarships offered by funding agencies in their home countries.
Does accreditation guarantee that I will be able to pursue graduate studies at a U.S. post-secondary institution?
Once again, accreditation does not provide automatic acceptance. Once again, it’s important to do your homework.
In the U.S., accreditation is an important factor when a college or university is deciding whether to accept transfer credit from a student's previous school. Many, if not most colleges and universities will not accept transferred course credits from an institution that has not earned appropriate accreditation status from an accreditation organization.
Accreditation does not provide automatic acceptance by an institution of credit earned at another institution—that’s the prerogative of the institution you are applying to. For this reason, students should take additional measures to determine what the enrollment requirements are and whether they meet those requirements. For example, researching prospective schools’ entry requirements and making inquiries to those institutions.
The terms can be confusing. Without going into a great deal of detail, regionally accredited post-secondary institutions are predominantly academically oriented, non-profit institutions. Nationally accredited schools are predominantly for-profit and offer vocational, career or technical programs. While nationally accredited schools recognize regionally accredited schools, the converse is not usually the case.
Does accreditation by a regional body in the U.S. mean that Capilano’s accreditation is only recognized by schools in that region?
While each region may have slightly different accreditation processes and requirements, their goal is the same—quality assurance. Generally speaking, regionally accredited institutions recognize other regionally accredited institutions.
Capilano University is the first Canadian university to be accredited by the NWCCU and only the second post-secondary institution in Canada to be formally accredited by a U.S. agency.
Being accredited by the NWCCU means that we join 162 other accredited post-secondary institutions in the Northwest, such as:
- Gonzaga University
- University of Portland
- Seattle University
- Brigham Young University
- University of Washington
- University of Colorado Boulder
In the United States, post-secondary education is governed at the national level by the U.S. Department of Education. The federal government in turn sanctions six regional associations to formally accredit institutions of higher learning in their geographic area. Accreditation is mandatory for U.S. post-secondary institutions seeking federal funding.
For example, North Carolina’s Duke University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), Stanford by Western Association of Schools and Colleges and The New England Association of Schools and Colleges’ (NEASC) Commission on Institutions of Higher Education accredits Harvard.
The NWCCU accredits institutions in the seven-state Northwest region of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. It’s responsible for reviewing and assessing institutions according to a set of criteria and evaluation procedures.
The same considerations as above apply. If you are hoping to make the jump from your undergrad program to graduate school it’s important to know that not all graduate programs are the same. Graduate school programs have stringent entry requirements--marks aren’t the only thing that reflects a student’s ability. Do your homework to make sure you are on the right track to ensuring you meet the criteria of the particular program in which you are interested.
While a student who attends an accredited university is on the path to receiving a quality education, students should be advised that a university’s accreditation does not automatically guarantee your success. It is up to the individual student to make the most out of the education he or she is receiving! It is also important to ensure that you are taking the right courses and of course, meeting the academic and enrolment standards required to transfer to another university’s program. These can vary by degree and by university.
Since Canadian education is regulated provincially (not by the federal government), there is no national university accreditation system. Post-secondary institutions like Capilano University are given authority to grant degrees, diplomas and certificates through specific provincial regulations, and these institutions are therefore "recognized”. Government recognition is a form of quality assurance, but is not official accreditation.
- Assurance for you, and your parents, that Capilano University will deliver on its promise to provide quality educational programs.
- New students, returning students, and families of students can trust that the education they are paying for is valuable and worth their time, money, and effort.
- You can be confident that the program in which you are enrolled or are considering enrolling in is engaged in continuous review and improvement of its quality.
- Assurance that the programs are delivered by qualified faculty and are constantly updated to follow the changes and meet the needs of the relevant industry and/or working world.
In the simplest terms, accreditation is our promise to you and the public that we will provide the quality of education we claim to. Consider it evidence or a seal of approval, that what we say is true and can be trusted.
To use a cliché, accreditation is a journey, not a destination. Reaching such an important milestone does not mean we can now sit back and rest on our laurels. It comes with a commitment to ongoing evaluation and improvement to ensure we are meeting our goals and fulfilling our promise to you and future students.
Digging deeper, accreditation is both a status and the process leading to the achievement of that status. As a status, accreditation is essentially confirmation from an expert external source that a university—everything from its degrees, programs and courses to its faculty, facilities and services—meet certain standards of quality and excellence.
As a process, accreditation means that in achieving recognition by the accrediting agency, in Capilano University’s case, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, we are committed to self-study and external review by our peers (i.e. other post-secondary institutions) as a means of quality assurance. This applies to the more than five-year journey we took in meeting their rigorous standards and becoming accredited, but as mentioned, also going forward. Accreditation is the tool we’ll use on an ongoing basis to monitor, assess, and evaluate the standards and quality of the education a student receives. With these benchmarks in hand, we will continuously seek ways in which to enhance and improve the quality of education we offer.