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NMC Seeks Accreditation through WASC Senior Commission (February 24, 2014)


In order to better meet evolving community needs, the Northern Marianas College is seeking accreditation through the Senior College and University Commission (“Senior Commission”) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

The Northern Marianas College is already accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The College’s accreditation was recently reaffirmed earlier this month after ACCJC found that NMC had addressed the concerns and recommendations that were raised by the Commission and evaluation teams.

“One of the main reasons we are seeking accreditation through the Senior College and University Commission is that the College is poised for growth and more development,” said NMC President Dr. Sharon Hart.

“Part of this growth includes expanding the number of bachelor’s programs to include a bachelor degree in business, hospitality management, and other areas that have been identified by the community as a major need for the CNMI, especially as so many of the present baccalaureate degree holders are here on CW status,” said President Hart.

Under ACCJC’s policy, community colleges are able to offer only a single baccalaureate degree (through a joint accreditation by ACCJC and ACSCU) while retaining its core mission as a two-year-degree-granting institution.  For the Northern Marianas College, this single degree has been its Bachelor’s Degree in Education (with four difference concentrations).

According to President Hart, the College has already informed representatives of ACCJC about the College’s intention to transition from the Junior Commission to the Senior Commission.

“The College acknowledges and is grateful for the guidance from ACCJC, its President Dr. Barbara Beno, Commissioners, and visiting team members,” said President Hart. “The College has grown to where it is today because of their support.”

“The Northern Marianas College is committed to ensuring that it continues to provide high quality programs and services to students and we have worked very hard to meet or exceed the standards and eligibility requirements set by ACCJC,” said President Hart. “Our commitment to continuous quality improvement will not change if the College’s accreditation transitions to WASC Senior.”

From the WASC Senior Website (


    WASC Senior College and University Commission is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. It is a membership organization that, through peer evaluation, is responsible for ensuring and improving the quality and effectiveness of some 170 colleges and universities offering the baccalaureate degree and above in California, Hawaii, Guam, the Pacific Basin, and several international locations. As described in the WASC Constitution, the work of the agency is overseen by the Senior Commission.


    WASC is reviewed periodically for renewal of recognition by the US Department of Education (USDOE).This recognition verifies WASC to be a reliable determiner of institutional quality and integrity and thus permits accredited institutions to apply for various forms of federal student aid. In addition, WASC is reviewed periodically and recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

    Purposes of WASC Accreditation

    Voluntary, non-governmental, institutional accreditation as practiced by the WASC and the other regional commissions is a unique characteristic of American education. In many other countries the maintenance of educational standards is a governmental function. No institution in the United States is required to seek accreditation, however, because of the recognized benefits, most of the eligible institutions in this and other regions have sought to become accredited.

    The WASC accreditation process aids institutions in developing and sustaining effective educational programs and assures the educational community, the general public, and other organizations that an accredited institution has met high standards of quality and effectiveness.

    The Commission accredits institutions, not individual programs. Therefore, in addition to assessing the academic quality and educational effectiveness of institutions, the Commission emphasizes institutional structures, processes, and resources.

    The accreditation process is aimed at:

    Assuring the educational community, the general public, and other organizations and agencies  that an accredited institution has demonstrated it meets the Commission's Core Commitments to Institutional Capacity and Educational Effectiveness, and has been successfully reviewed under Commission Standards;

    Promoting deep institutional engagement with issues of educational effectiveness and student learning, and developing and sharing good practices in assessing and improving the teaching and learning process;

    Developing and applying Standards to review and improve educational quality and institutional performance, and validating these Standards and revising them through ongoing research and feedback;

    Promoting within institutions a culture of evidence where indicators of performance are regularly developed and data collected to inform institutional decision making, planning, and improvement;

    Developing systems of institutional review and evaluation that are adaptive to institutional context and purposes, that build on institutional evidence and support rigorous reviews, and reduce the burden and cost of accreditation; and

    Promoting the active interchange of ideas among public and independent institutions that furthers the principles of improved institutional performance, educational effectiveness, and the process of peer review.

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