South Seattle Community College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Accreditation of an institution of higher education by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities indicates that it meets or exceeds criteria for the assessment of institutional quality evaluated through a peer review process. An accredited college or university is one which has available the necessary resources to achieve its stated purposes through appropriate educational programs, is substantially doing so, and gives reasonable evidence that it will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Institutional integrity is also addressed through accreditation.

Accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities is not partial but applies to the institution as a whole. As such, it is not a guarantee of every course or program offered, or the competence of individual graduates. Rather, it provides reasonable assurance about the quality of opportunities available to students who attend the institution.

Inquiries regarding an institution's accredited status by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities 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


In March 2010 South Seattle Community College received formal notification from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) that the college accreditation was reaffirmed at the associate degree level, and accreditation was granted as a four-year baccalaureate degree institution.  The four-year accreditation recognizes South’s successful Hospitality Management bachelor’s degree program.

The accreditation evaluation exercise gave South the opportunity to formally assess how well we are accomplishing our mission of helping people transform their lives.  The NWCCU defines accreditation as  “… a voluntary, non-governmental, self-regulating process of quality assurance and institutional improvement.  It recognizes higher education institutions for performance, integrity, and quality to merit the confidence of the educational community and the public.” 

South has been accredited since our initial review in 1975. The usual full accreditation review cycle has been every 10 years, with a smaller, interim review at five years.  South’s last full review was in October 2000, and our interim review was in October 2005. 

Our full review came one year earlier than usual because of South’s Bachelor of Applied Science in Hospitality Management program, which completed its second year of operation and graduated its first class in June 2009.  Because South has the bachelor’s program, it made us a four-year-degree institution in the view of the NWCCU, and called for an earlier review.  In 2010, the NWCCU revised its review system; in future reviews South and other colleges will work with new requirements with new timing.

The 2010 notification letter completed more than two years of engagement by the college community in the accreditation reaffirmation process, with participation by more than 150 faculty, staff and students. The process included an on-campus review team visit in October 2009 and South’s appearance before the NWCCU board of commissioners in January 2010.

The most intensive part of the preparation took place in 2009.  As part of the accreditation review process, and to prepare for the on-campus visit, each college or university conducts a self-study, which is a rigorous review based on set criteria to be met in nine areas of standards.  The standards include the educational program and its effectiveness, governance and administration, faculty, finance, and physical resources.  Our self-study became a 225-page book that was reviewed by the entire campus, and read by the review committee prior to its visit.

On October 19-21, 2009, a NWCCU team of 12 people in higher education, drawn from peer institutions, visited South to inspect, question, observe – to give the college, its people, programs and facilities a comprehensive review.  In its preliminary report at the end of the visit the team left South with six potential commendations for accomplishments and six potential recommendations for improvements, which later became part of the NWCCU final report.

These are the commendations:

  1. The Evaluation Committee found the South Seattle Community College faculty, staff, students and administrators to be highly collaborative, genuinely committed to the learning of their students and collectively determined to meet all challenges faced by the college.  The committee commends all of the members of the college family for their dedication and enthusiasm.
  2. The Evaluation Committee commends the college for its creative and successful partnerships with community and industry.
  3. The Evaluation Committee commends the college for its transparent budgeting processes on campus.
  4. The Evaluation Committee commends the college for its commitment to evaluation and data-driven decision making.
  5. The Evaluation Committee commends the college for its effective educational support for its diverse student body.
  6. The Evaluation Committee commends the college for the broad collaboration and effective planning that have supported the new baccalaureate program.

These are the recommendations:

  1. Most, but not all of South Seattle Community College’s academic programs provide regular and systematic assessment of program-level student learning outcomes.  The committee recommends that the college extend its effective regular and systematic assessment of program-specific student learning outcomes to all academic programs.  (Standard 2.B2)
  2. The committee recommends that the college identify program outcomes which differentiate between certificate and degree programs.  (Standard 2.B.2, Policy 2.2)
  3. The evaluation committee recommends that South Seattle Community College design and distribute effective advising information to meet the needs of all students.  This may be implemented through distribution of effective printed materials, an updated web page and through academic advisers.  (Standard 2.C.5)
  4. The committee found evidence of at least one academic field in which the college hires only part-time faculty.  The evaluation committee recommends that South Seattle Community College should employ professionally qualified faculty with primary commitment to the institution and representative of each field or program in which it offers major work.  (Standard 4.A.1).
  5. The Committee recommends that South Seattle Community College support educational and student service programs by acquiring and properly maintaining computer equipment and computer systems.  The Committee further recommends increasing the usefulness and improving the design of the current website.  (Standard 5.B.1)
  6. The Committee recommends that the College work with the District Office to publish the individual College Budget in addition to the aggregate District budget as part of the Board of Trustees’ approval of the budget document.  (Standard 7.A3).

In January 2010 South responded to the recommendations in a meeting with the NWCCU commissioners.  The final step in the process was the formal reaffirmation letter in March 2010. In its notification letter the NWCCU reiterated both the commendations and recommendations made in the report from the on-campus review team.  The commission requested a “progress report” in fall 2011 that covers three recommendations, and another report in spring 2013 covering three other recommendations.  The college already has addressed some of the recommendations and will continue to make the necessary changes.

South’s 2009 self study and related documents are posted below.  Also posted below are key documents related to our five-year review in 2005 and our full review in 2000. In the 2005 review South received five commendations and no recommendations for improvement.

If you have trouble opening the PDF files, please read "PDF Help."

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