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 2030, following a review in 2020-21 from the Senior Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

The reaffirmation process, arriving parallel to the completion of the program redesign, allowed Pardee RAND to catalog our programmatic changes and gather into one place our vision for the school (PDF) moving forward. It also forced us to firmly identify areas where we will have to be especially careful moving forward and begin to select new assessment mechanisms to ensure that the redesigned program is meeting our goals. The process allowed Pardee RAND to evaluate many of the new elements of the redesigned program. We hope that the work so many at the school have done for the report and visit will be a stepping stone to a continually improving school.

The WASC Team Report (PDF) and Reaccreditation Letter (PDF) contain valuable insight into our program. The following lists summarize WASC's commendations and recommendations from the team report and letter.

WSCUC Team Commendations

The Commission commends PRGS in particular for the following:

  1. Engaging in a thoughtful, inclusive six-year planning process to reimagine their entire program with the desire to enhance the students’ learning experience and promote their success as they aspire to change the nature of the field of policy analysis.
  2. The institution’s efforts to “design for emergence” by building in an ability to respond to future policy education and practice needs through feedback mechanisms at multiple organizational levels (board, leadership, faculty, students).
  3. The tenacity, commitment, and ability to implement this redesign and expand their student cohort during a major pandemic.
  4. Retaining its well-established Ph.D. in Policy Analysis while recognizing the value of allowing students to bring in and further develop, different dispositions to bring to bear on policy work in the creation of their three new streams of study and action. The review team especially commends the establishment of the Boot Camp for all entering students.
  5. Incorporating a strong spirit of collaboration among faculty, staff, and students, and their commitment to maintain this collaboration as the institution grows in size and complexity.
  6. Developing the Social Justice and Racial Equity cross-cutting thread and their expanded engagement with diverse community partners (Sitka, Alaska and City of Los Angeles).

WSCUC Team Recommendations

The Commission requires the institution to respond to the following issues:

  1. As the assessment program progresses, PRGS has an opportunity to lead in innovative program review and assessment. As such, the institution must further strengthen and articulate broad assessment infrastructure in ways that institutionalize the process to ensure sustainability by:
    • developing and documenting an institutionally understood and accepted assessment methodology and structure;
    • ensuring that program learning objectives and course structures are widely shared among students, faculty, and the broader community.
  2. Align curricular and co-curricular components to meet learning objectives of the redesigned program.
  3. Clearly articulate desired learning outcomes for the Tech Stream Portfolio and ensure that those outcomes are distributed and known amongst the students, faculty, and broader community.
  4. Strengthen resources and opportunities for faculty development that are grounded in pedagogical best-practices, focused on the program outcomes, and responsive to the academic and professional needs of a diverse and growing student body.
  5. Strengthen a coordinated approach to student success and well-being that promotes equity and success for all students, with particular attention to the needs of underrepresented and international students.
  6. As the reimagined program scales, the institution embraces a sustainable approach to:
    • articulating clear roles and responsibilities for staff and administrators in order to strengthen and sustain institutional communication and capacity as well as student success;
    • identifying specific points-of-contact for specific issues, questions, etc. such that students, faculty, community partners, and other stakeholders are better served.