This is the first in a series of posts detailing what different accrediting bodies require for college catalogs.
Preparing for accreditation review can be a huge task, so below we've prepared a checklist of what the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities requires in a college catalog.
The Catalog Itself
Here are the items that NWCCU requires in the actual catalog, per standard 2.D.5:
- Institutional mission and core themes
- Entrance requirements and procedures
- Grading policy
Information on academic programs and courses, including:
- Degree and program completion requirements
- Expected learning outcomes
- Required course sequences
- Projected timelines to completion
- Names, titles, degrees held, and conferring institutions for administrators and full-time faculty
- Rules, regulations for conduct, rights, and responsibilities
- Tuition, fees, and other program costs
- Refund policies and procedures for students who withdraw from enrollment
- Opportunities and requirements for financial aid
- Academic calendar
In Academic Publications
NWCCU has a separate standard for what needs to be included in all publications describing academic programs — which includes your catalog. Per standard 2.D.6, here's what you need to include:
- National and/or state legal eligibility requirements for licensure or entry into an occupation or profession for which education and training are offered
- Descriptions of unique requirements for employment and advancement in the occupation or profession.
Information You're Required to Publish Somewhere
These are all things that don't necessarily have to be in your catalog, but that NWCCU requires you to publish somewhere — and the catalog is often a good place to put them.
Mission & Core Themes
- Standard 1.A.1 requires your mission statement to be "widely published."
- NWCCU doesn't explicitly state that you need to widely publish your core themes, but most colleges choose to include this information in the catalog, per standard 1.B.1.
Academic Information & Policies
- Per standard 2.C.2, you're required to provide expected learning outcomes for courses, programs, and degrees. Your catalog is obviously a great place to do that.
Colleges are required to publish the following policies for students. Again, it's not required that this be in your catalog, but it's often a good place for them.
- Academic policy (2.A.12)
- Library policies (2.A.13)
- Transfer of credit policy (2.A.14)
- Student rights and responsibilities (2.A.15)
- Admission and placement policies (2.A.16)
- College's relationship to co-curricular policies (2.A.17)
- Academic freedom and responsibility possibilities (2.A.27)
- Admission & graduation requirements (2.C.4)
- Policies and procedures regarding secure retention of student records (2.D.7)
- Information on the categories of financial assistance (2.D.8)
- Advising requirements and responsibilities (2.D.10)
- Policies and procedures regarding the safe use, storage, and disposal of hazardous or toxic materials (2.G.2)