LCC Accreditation

Lower Columbia College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

NWCCU is one of seven institutional accrediting agencies that operate within a scope of authority approved by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). Institutional accreditors have traditionally 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., which have voluntarily sought membership for accreditation. However, under the new 2020 USDE regulations, the former regional accreditors are now allowed to operate nationally. Institutional accreditation serves to assure the educational community, parents, students, employers, policymakers, and the public that an accredited institution has met high standards of quality and effectiveness.

For the purposes of determining eligibility for United States government assistance under certain legislation, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education recognizes institutional accrediting agencies as reliable authorities on the quality of education offered by educational institutions.

Institutional accreditation applies to an institution as a whole, not individual programs or units within the institution. Institutional accreditation agencies perform important functions, including fostering quality education and continuous improvement, and encouraging institutional efforts toward maximum educational effectiveness. The accrediting process requires institutions to examine their own missions, operations, and achievements. It then provides expert analysis by peer evaluators, which may include commendations for accomplishments as well as recommendations for improvement.

Inquiries regarding an institution's accreditation status by the NWCCU should be directed to the administrative staff of the institution. Individuals may also contact:

Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
8060 165th Avenue N.E., Suite 100
Redmond, WA 98052
(425) 558-4224

Accreditation by the NWCCU refers to the institution as a whole. Therefore, statements like "fully accredited" or "the program is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities" or "this degree is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities" are incorrect and should not be used.

The NWCCU’s most recent action on the institution’s accreditation status on January 22, 2019 was to reaffirm accreditation.

NWCCU is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Accreditation Calendar

  • Fall 2024 - Policies, Regulations, and Financial Review (PRFR - Year Six)
  • Fall 2025 - Evaluation of Institutional Effectiveness (EIE - Year Seven)

Accreditation Overview

Accreditation is a process used to determine whether an organization is meeting externally defined standards. The NWCCU adopted new Accreditation Standards in August 2019 that took effect on January 1, 2020. In addition to annual reports that are due on August 1 each year, the new cycle involves a Mid-Cycle Evaluation in Year Three, a Policies, Regulations, and Financial Review in Year Six, and an Evaluation of Institutional Effectiveness in Year Seven.

Accreditation from a recognized institutional (formerly regional) accreditor enables colleges to qualify for federal Title IV funds (e.g. financial aid for students) and other federal grants and contracts. Transfer-eligible accredited institutions include:

  • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Institutional Effectiveness

Demonstrating our effectiveness as an institution is a big part of the accreditation process. LCC does this in three primary ways:

  1. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) - we measure and report our effectiveness each year in a series of institutional monitoring reports. Review teams recommend targets for each KPI that are approved by the LCC Board of Trustees (see also: Strategic Plan).
  2. Curriculum and Program Review - LCC faculty regularly engage in evaluation of their courses and programs. All faculty use a common template following a master timeline, and complete one review cycle every two years.
  3. Global Skills Assessment - LCC faculty assess one global skill every year during an annual summer assessment institute. In fall quarter, faculty discuss the results and work on ways to improve student outcomes attainment in terms of communication, critical thinking, interpersonal relations, and quantitative literacy.

Accreditation Help

The NWCCU's Substantive Change Policy requires colleges to submit proposed program changes apart from the institutional accreditation reporting and visitation process. The policy states:

"If an institution implements a change without prior written notice or if it proceeds to implement a substantive change denied by the Executive Committee or Commission, the Commission may issue an order for the institution to show cause as to why its accreditation or candidate status should not be terminated."

For assistance with program change requests, please refer to the resources below and contact the ALO with questions (ALO contact information listed below page content).



Accreditation Liaison Officer (ALO)

 Wendy Hall, Vice President, Effectiveness & College Relations

  (360) 442-2491
Fax: (360) 442-2659

 Applied Arts 124


Mon-Fri: 8 am - 5 pm