Oregon State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), one of the seven institutional accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

What is accreditation?

Accreditation is a process of recognizing educational institutions for performance, integrity, and quality that entitles them to the confidence of the educational community and the public. Accreditation of postsecondary institutions in the United States is extended primarily through private, non-governmental, membership associations that establish accreditation standards, evaluate institutions against those criteria, and approve institutions that meet them.

Institutional accreditation

Institutional accreditation is granted by an accrediting agency within a scope of authority approved by the United States Department of Education (USDE). Oregon State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), one of seven institutional accrediting agencies. Historically, institutional accreditors have had oversight over higher educational institutions within a selected subset of the 50 states and U.S. territories, along with institutions outside of the U.S. However, under the new 2020 USDE regulations, the former regional accreditors are now allowed to operate nationally.

Benefits of institutional accreditation

Institutional accreditation is not partial but applies to the institution as a whole. As such, it indicates that through a rigorous peer evaluation process the institution is fulfilling its mission and that it meets accreditation standards. Students attending accredited institutions may be eligible to apply for federal financial aid. Accreditation also helps ensure that credits and degrees are recognized for purposes of transfer, admission, and employment.

What has changed since the last accreditation cycle?

Beginning in 2020 (one year after OSU completed its last accreditation cycle), NWCCU revised its Standards and the structure of the review cycle. Visit the NWCCU website to read the 2020 Standards.

The Standards were reorganized and refocused so that concepts central to all institutions of higher learning–student learning and achievement–are prioritized, and issues of equity and closing achievement gaps are emphasized. Other essential topics, such as having appropriate policies for a variety of purposes, are reframed so that the policies are contextualized within the institution’s mission and values.

Instead of presenting a single, comprehensive self-evaluation report during the seventh year of the accreditation cycle, there are now two reports required at the end of the cycle. In Year 6, the Policies, Regulations, and Finances Review (PRFR) is submitted. And in Year 7, the Evaluation of Institutional Effectiveness (EIE) report is submitted. EIE submission is followed promptly by a site visit by a team of evaluators.