The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges works with its member institutions to advance educational quality and student learning and achievement. This collaboration fosters institutional excellence and continuous improvement through innovation, self-analysis, peer review, and application of standards.
ACCJC Core Values
Student Learning and Achievement
The ACCJC is authorized to operate by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) through the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008. The USDE provides oversight to the American system of accreditation. It conducts a review of each legitimate accrediting commission every five years and confers, on accrediting bodies that qualify, the status of recognition. All institutions wishing to provide students with federal financial aid must seek accreditation from a USDE-recognized accrediting body. The Higher Education Act, periodically reviewed and renewed by the Congress of the United States, contains the criteria that accrediting commissions must meet if they are to obtain recognition.
In addition, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) has established criteria of excellence and a quality review system that define quality for accrediting bodies. Although accrediting commissions are not compelled to seek CHEA recognition, many accrediting agencies voluntarily participate in the CHEA quality review process as part of their own efforts to establish and maintain quality in accreditation practices. In September 2016, CHEA renewed its recognition of ACCJC for four years.
ACCJC is a nonprofit, public benefit corporation and is not organized for the private gain of any person. It is organized under the Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporations Law of the State of California for public and charitable purposes.
History of the ACCJC
The Western Association of Schools and Colleges, (WASC), was formed in 1962 to promote the development of higher education in the Western region when it took over and further formalized the work of its predecessor organization, the Western College Association. WASC was previously incorporated as a single 501c3 entity that encompassed the three commissions (WASC Senior College and University Commission, Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, and the Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges).
In 2012-2013 the three commissions re-incorporated as separate organizations with independent scopes and governance structures.
For more information about the two other commissions previously included in WASC, visit their websites at:
Background on Regional Accreditation
Accreditation as a system of voluntary, non-governmental, self-regulation, and peer review is unique to American educational institutions. It is a system by which an institution evaluates itself in accordance with standards of good practice regarding mission, goals, and objectives; the appropriateness, sufficiency, and utilization of resources; the usefulness, integrity, and effectiveness of its processes; and the extent to which it is achieving its intended student achievement and student learning outcomes, at levels generally acceptable for higher education. It is a process by which accreditors provide students, the public, and each other with assurances of institutional integrity and effectiveness and educational quality.
Regional accreditation is a successful and robust, time-tested model of professional peer review that supports educational excellence. Colleges and universities form membership associations to set up an accrediting agency and work with that agency to establish the quality standards used to rigorously evaluate the institutions. There are six geographic regions under the U.S. system recognized by the federal government. Within each region, an accreditor is responsible for designated types of higher education institutions and the types of credentials offered at those institutions. There are other kinds of accreditation (national, programmatic) but regional accreditation status is regarded as the most comprehensive and rigorous for institutions to attain.
The Western region includes California, Hawai’i and the Pacific Region (Guam, American Samoa, the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands.) The Western Region has two higher education accreditors: the ACCJC and the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (SWCUC). The ACCJC accredits community colleges and other associate degree-granting institutions. Five other regional accreditors operate in and have names associated with other geographic regions of the United States. These include: