NWCCU- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

NWCCU is a non-profit organization that accredits colleges with educational quality and effectiveness. Learn more about it, how to get the accreditation, and more.

TCM Staff

27th October 2020

The US Government has initiated an array of policies to check the functionality and quality of service of colleges and universities. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities is one of the organizations appointed by the US Department of Education to propagate ‘clean’ standards of education and keep a stringent check on the institutions. 

In this article, we have discussed the various aspects related to the Northwestern Commission on Colleges and Universities.

What is the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities? 

The North West Commission on Colleges and Universities is an independent, non-profit, membership-driven organization, by the US Department of Education, for educational quality and effectiveness, on higher educational institutions in the Northwest part of the United States. 

The accreditation is a quality assurance process which is a voluntary, non-governmental, self-regulatory process, based on quality assurance and institutional improvement.

The northwest part of the United States includes Alaska, Idaho, Canada, Columbia, Utah Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and Montana. The commission is recognized by the US Department of Education since 1952. 

The categories of assessment include performance, integrity, and quality to help the wards, the institution as a whole, and finally the society. This specific accreditation entitles students and organizations for Title IV federal funds for teaching, research, and student financial aid.

  • It accredits colleges in the seven states in the northwest regions.

  • A college or university should fulfill the standards to get accreditation by some specified procedures.

  • It was first established as the Northwest Association of Secondary and Higher schools in 1917.

  • It changed its name to the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges in 1974 which included two divisions.

  • Then the commission got split into the Northwest Commission into Colleges and universities in the year 2002.

  • The commission also provides accreditation to non-US institutions. The Capilano University of British Columbia is one such institution that received accreditation in 2013.


Mission and Theme of NWCCU

The organization believes in fulfilling its purpose, characteristics, and expectations to its fullest. The individual ideas that effectively manifest the effectiveness of its mission are identified.

Meaningful, assessable, and verifiable indicators of achievement are studied for NWCCU. The decision making structures and processes of the NWCCU is clearly structured. 

The separation of authority between the institution and the system is clearly delineated. Establishment, review, revision, and oversight of institutional policies are exercised by the organization.

Regular evaluation of the duty and responsibility of the board is performed in an effective and efficient manner. Academic policies for teaching, research, services, artistic creation, and more are communicated to the students.

  • The usage of library, knowledge resources and related fields is documented, published, and enforced. An effective and clearly stated credit transfer policy is exercised by the institution. Consistent, fair, and equitable application of resources is applied for its students and members.

  • Employees of the organization are well-informed of the employment scenarios, assignments, rights, responsibilities, retention, promotion, and evaluation. Security and confidentiality of human resource records are maintained.

  • Accuracy, consistency, and clarity are ensured by all of the association's announcements, statements, and publications. Clearly defined methods of ownership, copyright, control, compensation, and revenue are maintained.

  • A sufficient number of qualified men are assigned for support and operations functions. Within every five-year period of service, regular and systematic evaluations are performed.

  • The learning outcomes of the course and the program are also presented. The faculty is assigned with clearly defined authority, responsibility, approval, implementation, and revision of the curriculum. Faculty makes sure that the library and information resources are integrated with the learning curriculum. Acceptance of transfer credits is the responsibility of the receiving institution. 

  • The commission ensures that the student's qualifications and expectations are in line with the vision of the institution. Graduate students are also prepared for professional practice, scholarship, or artistic creation. 

Eligibility Criteria of NWCCU

The NWCCU has established a list of criteria for eligibility for candidates for accreditation. This criterion includes the following.

  • The operational status of the institution that has a consistent student base currently working towards degrees.

  • The institution is authorized by governmental organizations and agencies.

  • The institution demonstrates its ability to provide educational programs and in order to meet the Board's requirements for eligibility.

  • The institution shows respect for all individuals, and details this non-discrimination policy in its charter, core themes, and mission statement.

  • The business aspect of the institution complies with the ethical standards established by the Commission.

  • This government board is responsible for overseeing the quality of the institution's programs and the integrity of its operations.

  • A chief executive officer has been appointed for full-time duty by the governing board.

  • The institution has adequate administrative staff whose work supports the institution's operations, core themes, and mission statement.

  • The institution has a sufficient number of qualified faculty members whose work supports the institution's commitment to quality education.

  • The institution offers students library access and other information resources that are sufficient to support its programs and operations.

  • The institution's physical infrastructure and technological infrastructure are adequate to fulfill its mission.

  • Students and faculty are free to pursue and test any knowledge relevant to their field of study.

  • The institution is financially stable and can support its own programs and operations.

  • The institution is audited by an external agency on a yearly basis.

  • Throughout the course of the Commission's evaluation, the institution must quickly and accurately provide any and all requested information.

  • The institution's programs have clearly defined learning outcomes by which student progress can be monitored and evaluated.

Steps of NWCCU Accreditation

Here is a step by step process that is to be followed in order to receive NWCCU accreditation.

  • Check if the organization imparts higher education. Accrediting agencies grant accreditation only to organizations implementing higher education practices.

  • Identify if the given organization has characteristics of other similar organizations.

  • Check if the organization meets the eligibility requirements, accreditation standards, and NWCCU policies.

  • Requirements to be met include those characteristics that are required by a student who has completed his/her high-school.

  • The program-curriculum at the college should be verified by subject experts. 

An institution wishing to receive the accreditation passes through three given phases.  

  • Applicant Phase – The duration of the application phase is one to three years.

  • Candidate for Accreditation Phase – The duration of this phase is not more than 5 years.

  • Member Institution Phase – The duration of this phase is nearly 7 years and starts with initial accreditation.

What happens after NWCCU accreditation?

After an institution has received NWCCU accreditation, there are a set of activities that are frequently followed. They are as given below.

  • A yearly institutional update report is generated.

  • During the first, third, and seventh year of the institutional cycle, self-study reports are scheduled.

  • Additional requests can sometimes be made by the Board of Commissioners.

  • If any change violating the Commission’s Substantial Change Policy was done, then these changes are reported.

All throughout the seven-year cycle, each institution is reviewed by the NWCCU staff, along with a team of Peer evaluators, and a Board of Commissioners.

How to become an NWCCU peer evaluator?

Few steps to be followed to become the NWCCU peer evaluator are given below.

  • Evaluator nominations are received from the President and Accreditation Liaison Officer of an institution.

  • Details of the nominee including name, title, institution name, mail-id, and phone number are mailed to Elsa Gosset.

  • An Evaluator Training Workshop has to be attended by anyone who wishes to become a peer-evaluator.

  • Nominee’s area of expertise and professional history are presented before the Commission.

  • The evaluators are then chosen by the committee during the Evaluator Training Workshop.

  • The commission prefers candidates who are experts in the field of institutional finance, library and information resource, student support, academics, and assessment.

List of institutions accredited by NWCCU

Here are a few universities that are accredited by NWCCU.

How will NWCCU accreditation benefits students?

Few benefits of the NWCCU accreditation are given below.

  • It helps the students and their parents choose a better and good institution for their respective education.

  • Accredited colleges/universities will have good and experienced faculty.

  • Students can enjoy a good environment with many activities.

  • A candidate pursuing an education in an accredited university or college will have privileges to get financial aid and scholarships.      

  • Students will get a lot to learn and the various programs held in college/university. 


Being a part of an accredited institution is most required in attaining a quality education. As financial aids are also granted to only accredited institutions, it is essential to understand the benefits of various accreditation organizations. Regional accreditations are received by the most number of colleges. Hence, before applying to any institution, you must verify if it has received its regional accreditation and also the programmatic accreditation.

Blogs you might be interested in

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1.Which type of institutions receives accreditation from the NWCCU?

    The post-secondary institutions receive accreditation from the North West Commission on Colleges and Universities.

  • 2.How many institutions are till-date recognized by the North West Commission On Colleges and Universities?

    Currently, 162 institutions are accredited by the North West Commission on Colleges and Universities.

  • 3.Which are the states for which the NWCCU is active?

    NWCCU is active in states including Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, and Montana are the states for which NWCCU is active.

  • 4.Describe the decision-making body of NWCCU?

    The decision-making body of NWCCU consists of 26 Commissioners representing, representing public and diverse higher education institutions in the North West Region.

  • 5.Which are the predecessor organizations of NWCCU?

    The predecessor organizations of NWCCU are the North West Association of Schools and Colleges and the Commission on Colleges and Universities.

  • 6.How frequent is the full-scale evaluation by the NWCCU?

    The full-scale evaluation of an institution by the NWCCU  happens every 7 years.

Recent Articles

How to get the highest possible ACT score: A complete guide

Do College Credits Expire ? : College Credit Guide [2024]

What Is a Good SAT Score?

How to Get a Scholarship in 6 Easy Steps?

Undergraduate vs Graduate: What Is the Difference?

Time Management for College Students: 8 Helpful Tips