TRU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) at the associate, baccalaureate, and master's degree levels.
Accreditation of an institution of higher education by the NWCCU indicates that it meets or exceeds criteria for the assessment of institutional quality evaluated through a peer review process. An accredited university is one which has available the neccessary 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 foreseable future. Institutional integrity is also addressed through accreditation.
Accreditation by the NWCCU is not partial but applies to the institution as a whole. As such, it is not a guarantee of every course or program, 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 TRU's accredited status by the NWCCU 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
Continuous Quality Improvement
As of September 1, 2018, Thompson Rivers University is accredited at the associate, baccalaureate, and master’s degree levels and is compliant with the Standards, Policies, and Eligibility Requirements of NWCCU. Accreditation must be reaffirmed periodically following a seven-year cyle of self evaluation and peer evaluation. Under the seven-year accreditation cycle, the following reviews are scheduled for TRU:
Fall 2020 Ad Hoc Report on Recommendation 2
Spring 2022 Mid-Cycle Evaluation with Addendum regarding Recommendations 1, 3, and 4
Spring 2026 Year Seven Mission Fulfilment and Sustainability Evaluation
To read the 2019 NWCCU recommendations and commendations, see NWCCU Official Record of Action.
What are the benefits of pursuing institutional accreditation with the NWCCU?
- Accreditation provides a framework for continuous quality improvement that is guided by our Mission and core themes.
- TRU Mission now guides integrated planning and processes within all support services. All resource planning and development work synergistically towards achieving Mission fulfilment.
- reinforces for TRU students and their families—past, present and future—that a TRU education is a high-quality education, based on objective, comprehensive and internationally-recognized criteria
- indicates that TRU meets high standards, has applicable policies and procedures, and is committed to student success
- increases our accountability to stakeholders and helps foster public confidence in TRU's ability to fulfill its stated mission and strategic priorities, through regular external assessment of TRU's adherence to best-practice standards
- provides TRU with ongoing independent assessment of the institution as a whole, not just individual programs, disciplines or departments
- helps establish clearer benchmarks/standards for assessing learning outcomes and thus benefits students’ learning experiences
- makes it easier for TRU to share best practices with other institutions worldwide
- enhances the value of a TRU degree for domestic and international alumni, and makes it easier for students to transfer credits and have credentials recognized worldwide
- raises the provincial, national and international profile of TRU, which may increase opportunities for our faculty members and students
- enhances TRU’s ability to recruit world-class faculty and staff
How did TRU decide to seek accreditation with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)?
In 2009, TRU began exploring the benefits of institutional (university-wide) accreditation in light of the province-wide interest in quality assurance for higher education institutions. In 2010, TRU prepared two reports on accreditation, including a Feasibility Study for US Accreditation. In December 2011, in the Senate report to the Board of Governors, the Office of the Provost and Vice-President Academic presented the timeline and budget for US accreditation. In the US, there are six regional organizations recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation to provide quality assurance and evaluate institutional effectiveness, of which the NWCCU is one. There is no equivalent body in Canada. In December 2012, a comparative analysis reviewing the different accreditation agency options was conducted, and the NWCCU was recommended as the most appropriate choice for TRU’s unique history and values.
Are there any other institutions that are seeking accreditation with another body?
In Canada, to the best of our knowledge, there are only four post-secondary institutions who have sought this type of institutional accreditation: Simon Fraser University, Capilano University and TRU, all through the NWCCU, and Athabasca University through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Are all institutions measured against the same criteria?
Yes, all institutions are measured against the same standards for accreditation.
What is the difference between institutional accreditation and specialized/programmatic accreditation?
Institutional accreditation is concerned with evaluating the institution as a whole and does not seek to deal with any particular program in great detail, although programs are reviewed as a part of the consideration of the entire institution. Specialized accrediting bodies, on the other hand, focus on specific programs to ensure that the details of that particular program meet the external accreditation standards.
How will programs already obligated to external accrediting bodies (e.g. Nursing) align with the standards of the NWCCU?
NWCCU accredited institutions are expected to remain in good standing with other specialized accrediting bodies that have granted accreditation status to a program. The accreditation given by the NWCCU is an institutional level accreditation, and does not speak to specific program accreditation.
NWCCU granted TRU accreditation at its June 2019 meeting, why is the effective date Sept. 1, 2018?
When accreditation is granted by the NWCCU, its Board of Commissioners sets the effective date of accreditation as Sept. 1 of the academic year in which the Commission takes action. Because the Commission granted TRU accreditation at its summer 2019 meeting—the 2018/19 academic year—our effective date of accreditation is Sept. 1, 2018.
What does the accreditation process look like?
Accreditation is an ongoing process of self-evaluation and peer-evaluation that follows a seven year cycle.
In year one, the institution conducts a thorough self evaluation with respect to standard one and eligibility requirements 2 and 3 (mission and core themes), and submits a Year One Self-Evaluation Report to the NWCCU.
In the third year, the institution engages in a mid-cycle review. This review is intended to be formative and collegial to discuss opportunities and challenges the institution is experiencing related to achieving mission fulfilment and sustainability. The institution submits a Mid-Cycle Evaluation Report and hosts an evaluation team on-site.
In year seven, the institution conducts a comprehensive self-evaluation of all of the standards and eligibility requirements, submits a Year Seven Self Evaluation Report and hosts an evaluation team on-site.