Accreditation through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

The Pardee RAND Graduate School (then RAND Graduate Institute) received its first accreditation from the Western Associate of Schools and Colleges (WASC) in 1975 and it has been reaccredited continuously since then. Most recently, Pardee RAND was re-accredited through 2020, following a review in 2011 from the Senior Commission of WASC. Pardee RAND was asked to provide an interim report in 2016 and will formally begin its next reaccreditation cycle in 2020.

All of us at Pardee RAND found the reaccreditation process to be of great value. The process encouraged the School to step back and evaluate ourselves in terms of Pardee RAND's educational objectives across major aspects of our Ph.D. program. As a result, we have refined or developed learning objectives for the three major elements of our program (teaching and coursework, OJT, and dissertations) and a set of metrics to determine if our students and faculty are achieving these objectives. The faculty and students were invaluable contributors to this process, helping to determine objectives and identify metrics, and working with Pardee RAND's administration to develop a plan for implementing the recommendations developed by Pardee RAND and WASC.

2011 WASC Reaccreditation

We recommend that you read the WASC reaccreditation team's Educational Effectiveness Review (EER) and the final WASC Senior Commission Letter of Reaccreditation. The letter, by design, focuses on the Senior Commission's recommendations rather than repeat the WASC reaccreditation team's highly laudatory review (of which we have provided excerpts below).

Pardee RAND Educational Objectives

  1. Understand the purpose of policy analysis and its place within the political process
  2. Master the basic methodologies used in policy research: economic analysis, quantitative methods, and social and behavioral science methods
  3. Acquire an in-depth knowledge in one of these three methodological fields
  4. Obtain a deep understanding of a specialized substantive field of public policy
  5. Develop project and professional skills relevant to the selected field of public policy.


  1. [The WASC team] commends Pardee RAND leadership and faculty for their commitment to excellence, student learning, and program improvement. The faculty and staff were thoughtful, engaged, and responsive to the recommendations outlined in the CPR [Capacity and Preparatory Review] report.
  2. Student achievement is a priority at Pardee RAND. The five core expectations of the program are clearly articulated and widely published in a variety of student collateral material. In their assessment of student achievement, faculty members measure student performance on core courses, analyze results of the qualifying examinations and individual first year reviews, assess OJT performance, and review dissertation quality. A newly designed checklist makes clear the criteria by which the dissertation will be evaluated. The team commends the deans and the faculty for their commitment to the students.
  3. The OJT experience is a key component of the program and provides students with valued research/project expertise. Since the CPR visit, faculty members have defined the expected student learning outcomes for OJT and shared them broadly with students and participating researchers/faculty. A measurement process has been established and institutionalized. The team commends Pardee RAND on their progress in assessing the impact of OJT as a key element of their culture of inquiry.
  4. The dean is in the early stages of launching a proactive strategy to address diversity through the Next Generation Initiative, in collaboration with a number of HBCU's, HSI's, and other Gulf State and Southwestern institutions to create a pipeline for students from underrepresented groups. This initiative is a long-term strategy that will cultivate relationships with faculty from these institutions, build capacity in policy analysis, and ultimately recruit students. The leadership at Pardee RAND is to be commended for their proactive and sustainable solution to a long-standing issue.
  5. RAND and Pardee RAND are experiencing the impact of the economic downturn but are managing within the fiscal constraints with effective and efficient leadership. Pardee RAND is in the silent phase of a comprehensive campaign that is intended to build the institution's endowment. These funds will support initiatives, such as experiential learning opportunities for students (outside of RAND/Pardee RAND), and increase scholarship and dissertation support.
  6. The alumni with whom the team met are proud of their degrees from PARDEE RAND and grateful for their experience. Increasing alumni engagement should prove beneficial for the campaign as well as future fundraising efforts.


  1. Program review has taken on more importance in the WASC standards as a mechanism for not only evaluating the quality of the program, but also for demonstrating the role of student learning and assessment in coursework and at the program level. Pardee RAND has not conducted a formal program review for over a decade. The team strongly recommends that such a review be planned.
  2. Pardee RAND faculty identified student-learning outcomes for every course and clearly outlined these expectations to their students on course syllabi. The team encourages the faculty to take the "next step" and make the assessment of student learning outcomes at the course level a part of their overall assessment process. Examining student learning outcomes within and across course sequences would also allow faculty to identify redundancies and gaps in the curriculum.
  3. Pardee RAND graduation rates and time to complete (the program) are notable. However, the team recommends that faculty conduct further analysis on the disaggregated data in order to identify and address disparities by gender and race/ethnicity.

2014 Program Review

Additionally, in 2014, Pardee RAND invited two highly-regarded practitioner/academics Alan Krueger, Princeton economist and James Steinberg, Dean of the Maxwell School of Public Policy at Syracuse, to review our Ph.D. program. Their reviews can be found here.