Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs - about BSU's Accreditation Process
What is institutional accreditation and why is it important?
All institutions of higher education in New England are accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). This status assures students, parents, and the public that basic standards are met. Institutional accreditation is voluntary, but it is required for many of the most important functions of the university. For example, without accreditation, students are not able to receive federal financial aid and other colleges and universities would not accept transfer credits from BSU. Accreditation provides the foundation on which a university's reputation is built.
What about accreditation of individual programs within the university?
Generally speaking, there are two levels of accreditation: institutional and programmatic. Institutional accreditation is provided through regional associations of colleges and schools, such as NEASC. Programmatic accreditation is available for many (but not all) academic areas and is usually offered through national professional associations. Institutional accreditation is a prerequisite for most programmatic accreditations.
What are the NEASC accreditation standards?
The NEASC Standards of Accreditation
encompass eleven areas: mission and purposes, planning and evaluation, the academic program, faculty, students, library and other information resources, physical and technological resources, financial resources, public disclosure, and integrity. A complete copy of the Standards for Accreditation
is available for review.
How often is a university's accreditation reviewed?
Institutions of higher education are reviewed for re-accreditation every ten years. For the decennial review, a thorough self-study is completed followed by a written report and site visit by an assigned review team. An interim report is due five years following a full review to address progress the institution made on any recommendations from the site visit team. The next full review and site visit for Bridgewater State University will occur October 21 -24, 2012. NEASC will release the final decision in the spring of 2013.
What does the accreditation process include?
A full review includes an on-site evaluation lasting several days by trained administrators and faculty from other institutions of higher education. Prior to the site visit, the university prepares a comprehensive self-study (in process) and extensive supporting documentation to demonstrate that it meets the NEASC accreditation standards. During the site visit, the review team reads the self-study and consults the supporting documentation. They examine the university's facilities and interview key members of the campus community.
Following the site visit the review team writes a report about what they have found, and makes a recommendation to NEASC's Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE), which meets four times a year. The Commission then makes the final decision about the university's continued accreditation.
Who are the members of the on-site review team?
NEASC selects the reviewers from a list of more than 1,500 senior educators from all types of institutions of higher learning. These reviewers have been selected and trained to evaluate institutions according to the stated accreditation standards.
What will the review team really be looking for?
In a nutshell, the evaluators will be looking for institutional effectiveness. They will want to know that the university has clearly stated mission, purposes, and objectives; that our activities are directed toward those ends; that we assess whether we have achieved what we set out to achieve; and that we use the results of those assessments to modify our practices appropriately. The reviewers will be looking for a record of ongoing assessment at the department or program level, and especially in regard to teaching and learning, and they will want to see that this cycle of assessment has actually been used for continuous program improvement.
How will this accreditation process affect me? (NOTE: The following message was directed toward the campus community during the self-study year [2011-12].)
A successful accreditation process requires the involvement of the entire campus community. Depending on your role at the university, you may be asked to do several things to assist. Each department has been reviewing its own goals and objectives, especially outcome objectives regarding student learning. Each department is gathering data to assess whether objectives are being met, and there will be continuing conversations about how to use the results of these assessments to improve our work. Copies of all of those documents are being gathered centrally and a team of over 100 people has written the first draft of the self-study report, in consultation with faculty, students, librarians, and staff. When the review team is on campus in October of 2012, everyone will be part of the welcoming committee, and many people will be asked to assist in making their visit a smooth one.
How do students, faculty, librarians, staff, and members of the public weigh in during the accreditation process concerning Bridgewater State University's performance as an institution?
Please refer to the second tab on the left on the NEASC site home page ("Opportunity for Public Comment"), which describes the process for members of the general public to submit observations about the quality of the institution. The "Introduction" to the Accreditation Self-Study Report 2012, which can be accessed under the first tab on the left of the home page, describes the process by which the President engaged the campus community throughout the self-study effort.
Last Modified: September 10, 2012