Process & Milestones


Accreditation is about meaningful, inquiry-based self-assessment that conveys our unique story and describes plans for the future based on the institution’s mission and strategic goals.

As part of the accreditation activities, Sonoma State University completes a self-study process, where we capture our ongoing commitment to the continuous improvement of our programs—both curricular and co-curricular.

Part of this process is the Institutional Report and appendices, which provide the data and evidence to support the narrative. SSU’s most recent report was submitted to WSCUC on February 22, 2017. The Institutional Report consists of nine components, or chapters, which demonstrate how Sonoma State University meets WSCUC Standards. The performance expectations that comprise those Standards are specified by WSCUC's Criteria for Review. It was the job of Sonoma State University’s Accreditation Steering Committee to coordinate gathering data to demonstrate how the campus meets these expectations.

During Fall 2015, the Steering Committee held regular meetings and members of the Steering Committee and working groups attended WSCUC training workshops. Our WSCUC Liaison, Dr. Christopher Oberg, visited the campus to meet with the Steering Committee and presented a public forum explaining the current institutional review process (view the presentation here).

The Steering Committee continued to meet throughout 2016-2017 to lead the re-accreditation effort, and working groups finished compiling information needed to write the institutional report. Ongoing accreditation-related activities included continued assessment planning and implementation, additional WSCUC trainings, and events designed to engage the campus community and the public in the accreditation process.

As part of the accreditation process, WSCUC appointed a team of professionals from member organizations that conducted an evaluation of Sonoma State’s self-study. After submitting the Institutional Report and Appendices, SSU participated in an offsite meeting with the WSCUC Team, held on May 2, 2017. The WSCUC team provided feedback on specific information they were seeking, called Lines of Inquiry, which was the focus a visit to the campus over October 24-26, 2017. Upon the completion of the site visit, the WSCUC Team prepared a report containing their findings, which was submitted to WSCUC for consideration in reaffirming our accreditation status.

At its meeting held February 14-16, 2018, the WSCUC Commission reaffirmed SSU's accreditation for a period of eight years. The commission's letter of March 9, 2018 provided commendations and recommendations to SSU, as well as outlined future visits:

  • March 4-5, 2021: Special Visit to address recommendations of March 9, 2018 letter

Report of the WSCUC Team Special Visit - March 4 – 5, 2021

Response to WSCUC Special Visit Team Report for Sonoma State University - March 11, 2021

  • Spring 2025: Offsite Review
  • Fall 2025:  Accreditation Visit

A WSCUC-appointed team will conduct a remote Special Visit to SSU on March 4-5, 2021. In advance of the visit, SSU prepared a Follow-up Report, which was submitted to WSCUC on December 22, 2020. The report, which was overseen by SSU's Special Visit Working Group provides a detailed response to the seven recommendations outlined by WSCUC in their action letter of March 9, 2018. The Working Group met regularly in Spring, Summer, and Fall 2020.

An action letter dated, July 12, 2021 was received. The letter serves as formal notification and official record of action taken concerning Sonoma State University (SSU) by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) at its meeting June 25, 2021. This action was taken after consideration of the report of the review team that conducted the Special Visit to Sonoma State University March 4-5, 2021.

Accreditation of Degree Programs

An institution must seek prior approval before implementing any degree programs at a degree level for which it does not have General or Specified (in a particular field or discipline) degree-granting approval.

Changing the Curriculum or Requirements of a Program: WSCUC may require substantive change approval when proposed alterations would result in a significantly different program. This is typically triggered by changes of 25 percent or more in the curriculum.

Accreditation of Non-Degree Programs

As of July 1, 2016, institutions are required to report and/or submit for review all new non-degree programs. For this purpose, a non-degree program consists of the following:

  • Is a series of courses
  • Carries academic credit from the offering institution
  • Results in a credential of some kind (certificate, diploma, credential, etc.)
  • Results in a credential that is independent and not awarded as a result of completing an approved degree program.

The distinction between new non-degree programs that require review and those that only need to be reported upon implementation is whether or not the program is a significant departure for the institution.

Significant Departure from Approved Programs

Examples of significant departures include: an offering in a curricular area in which the institution has no current approved programs (such as a new accounting certificate offered by an institution with no Business programs) or offering an online program at an institution with no or very few approved online programs or vice versa.

A program that is not a significant departure from an institution’s current approved curricular offerings or approved modality must be reported when implemented but does not require a review.

Contact the Academic Programs office for help with determining if your revision or proposal requires WASC approval.

For substantive changes, please review the WASC Substantive Change Manual