Accreditation Alphabet Soup

In addition to our institutional accreditation with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), George Fox University holds accreditation in 11 specific disciplinary programs: education, music, athletic training, social work, engineering, nursing, clinical psychology, business, counseling, physical therapy, and our seminary. Offering 11 accredited programs is a bit unusual for a university our size, and they are expensive to maintain. So, why do we do this?

First, with the exception of music, these programs are all professional in focus. There are real barriers to enter many professions such as nursing, social work, clinical psychology and physical therapy, and our accreditations allow our graduates to enter their chosen profession or graduate school much easier since they hold an accredited degree. Students are well served by disciplinary accreditation.

Second, having 11 accredited programs speaks to the overall commitment of the institution to academic quality. A rising tide lifts all boats, you know – and the fact that GFU has 11 accredited programs makes every graduate’s diploma more valuable, regardless of major. It strengthens our image.

Finally, accreditation insures academic quality. All accreditation bodies have the following in common:

  • A set of core standards established by professionals from across the country regarding such things as curriculum, faculty, students, internship or clinical experiences, learning outcomes, strategic planning, board test scores, administrative and financial support, and community engagement. To maintain accreditation, a program must meet those national standards.
  • A process of peer review. Accredited programs not only report on how they meet the national standards, a team of peers from other accredited programs visits campus to evaluate the program and verify that the standards are met. They also provide recommendations for quality improvement.
  • Commission affirmation. The reports from the institution and the review team are sent to the Commission. Independent readers carefully review these reports and make their recommendations directly to the Commission for a final decision. If some standards are not met, they must be addressed immediately or the program will lose accreditation. This process ensures that our accredited programs not only meet minimum national standards but also are constantly improving. And this entire process repeats itself every 4-8 years.


Patrick Allen,