Several academic programs achieve accreditation approval

WCU’s environmental health program was one of several academic programs granted reaccreditation, recognizing the programs’ quality and effectiveness.

The Western Carolina University community learned recently that the institution as a whole has been granted a critical 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, but individual academic programs on campus also have achieved important program approval over the past few months.

Programs in the colleges of Business, Education and Allied Professions, Arts and Sciences, and Health and Human Sciences have received notification of reaccreditation from a variety of agencies that conduct in-depth examinations of the programs’ quality and effectiveness.

Tim Metz, WCU’s assistant vice chancellor for institutional planning and effectiveness, is the Office of the Provost’s accreditation liaison who assists the programs as they work to achieve accreditation. Metz said program-level accreditation differs considerably from the university accreditation granted by the SACSCOC.

“With program accreditation, there are no federal requirements involved, and federal financial aid is not on the line,” Metz said. “Program-level accreditation is sought primarily as a means of quality assurance. Some prospective students are preferentially attracted to accredited programs and some forms of professional licensure require a student to obtain a degree or credentials from accredited programs. There is a list of federally recognized program-level accreditations and there are other accreditations that can be sought from professional associations. Many WCU programs maintain these types of accreditations.”

Program-level accreditations are largely managed by the programs, with most of the work being accomplished by the program’s faculty, he said.

The faculty of the master’s degree program in project management in the College of Business learned earlier this fall that the program has been accredited for another five years by the Global Accrediting Council of the Project Management Institute. WCU’s program is one of more than 110 project management programs in 16 countries that have been approved by the PMI.

College of Business faculty also were notified recently that bachelor’s degree and certificate programs in the financial planning concentration have been approved for a two-year accreditation renewal by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. The accreditation means any student holding a bachelor’s degree in any academic field who has completed six financial planning courses from an accredited program can take the national certified financial planner exam with the goal of becoming a practitioner in that field.

In the College of Education and Allied Professions, faculty working with the master of science program in clinical mental health counseling and master of education program in school counseling learned that those programs have been accredited for another eight years by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

Over in the College of Arts and Sciences, WCU’s bachelor’s degree program in computer science has been accredited for another six years by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET, the global accreditor of university programs in computing and several other academic areas. And, faculty of the College of Health and Human Sciences who work in the bachelor’s degree program in environmental health received notification that the program has been approved for a six-year accreditation by the National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council.