Accreditation Key Points

NIC is going through a dynamic process with our accrediting body, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

Here's what you need to know about the latest developments:

Updated Thursday, March 23 12:09 p.m.

NWCCU Standards and Eligibility Requirements cited in show cause sanction

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) evaluates all member institutions based on criteria that the NWCCU calls Standards and Eligibility Requirements.

There are two standards that the NWCCU holds all member institutions to:

  • Standard 1: Student Success, and Institutional Mission and Effectiveness
  • Standard 2: Governance, Resources and Capacity
These standards include 47 sub-standards in related categories, including instructional effectiveness, student learning and achievement, academic freedom, policies and procedures, institutional integrity and resources (financial, human, student support, library, information, physical and technology).

The NWCCU also evaluates member institutions on 23 Eligibility Requirements related to college operations. Eligibility Requirements range from operational focus and independence to governing board to the institution's relationship with the NWCCU, among many others.

Failure to meet any of the NWCCU's Standards or Eligibility Requirements may lead to the imposition of a sanction or adverse action for a member institution. In its Feb. 9 letter regarding a show cause sanction, the NWCCU identified eight different areas of risk related to 16 standards and 10 eligibility requirements.

North Idaho College has compiled an abridged version of the NWCCU's Standards and Eligibility Requirements, including the areas of risk identified by the NWCCU, as a reference guide for our community. View the NIC Quick Reference Guide.

The full version of each can be found on the NWCCU's website. See NWCCU Standards and NWCCU Eligibility Requirements.

Different types of accreditation: institutional vs. programmatic vs. national

NIC currently has institutional accreditation through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). There are different types of accreditation, though.

Institutional accreditation (formerly known as regional accreditation) applies to an institution as a whole. Until 2021, institutional accreditors were restricted to a general geographical region. Changes to the Higher Education Authorization Act now permit institutional accreditors to accept member institutions nationwide. Other institutional accreditors in the U.S. include the Higher Learning Commission, Middle States Commission on Higher Education and New England Commission on Higher Education. See the Council for Higher Education Accreditation's regional map.

Programmatic or specialized accreditation applies to individual educational programs within an institution. For example, NIC's Dental Hygiene program has programmatic accreditation through the Commission on Dental Accreditation, and the NIC Radiography Technology program has programmatic accreditation through the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology.

National accreditation is similar to institutional accreditation in that it applies to an institution as a whole but differs in that nationally accredited schools are thematically grouped (information technology, faith-based or distance education institutes, or liberal arts colleges). For example, Great Northern University — a four-year Christian university in Spokane — is accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (a national accrediting body) and is also an applicant for accreditation through the NWCCU.

For more information about types of accreditation, see the NWCCU's Accreditation Handbook or the Council of Higher Education website.

In an effort to be transparent and open, the college has posted all communications with the NWCCU.

We are also providing accurate and timely information.

And we have a provided a list of FAQs about accreditation and what it means for all our constituents.

Thank you for your interest and concern about NIC. Our community is a significant part of what makes NIC so special, and our campus community is committed to the most important of all our goals: serving students.

The information provided here is subject to change. The content of NIC's Key Points is subject to change because of new action by any party, availability of new information, and changes in requirements and/or status. The college is committed to providing the best knowledge we have at the time to our community.