About Accreditation | NorthWest Arkansas Community College

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About Accreditation

In February 2000, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) granted NWACC continued accreditation through 2010. In July 2006, NWACC adopted the Higher Learning Commission's Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) accreditation model, which automatically extended the college's full NCA accreditation through 2013. NWACC's accreditation was reaffirmed in 2020 by the Higher Learning Commission, and has been extended until the year 2030. NWACC now follows the Standard Pathway of Accreditation.

About Accreditation

Accreditation is the recognition that an institution such as NWACC maintains the standards essential for graduates to gain admission to other reputable institutions of higher learning or to achieve credentials for professional practice. The goal of accreditation is to ensure that the education provided at NWACC meets acceptable levels of quality.

Accrediting agencies are organizations (or bodies) that establish operating standards for educational or professional institutions and programs, determine the extent to which the tandards are met, and publicly announce their findings.

There are two basic types of educational accreditation, one identified as “institutional” and one referred to as “specialized” or “programmatic.” Institutional accreditation normally applies to an entire institution, indicating that each of an institution’s parts is contributing to the achievement of the institution’s objectives, although not necessarily all at the same level of quality. 

Specialized accreditation normally applies to the evaluation of programs, departments or schools, which usually are parts of a total collegiate or other postsecondary institution. The unit accredited may be as large as a college or school within a university or as small as a curriculum within a discipline. Most of the specialized accrediting agencies review units within a postsecondary institution, which is accredited by one of the regional accrediting commissions. However, certain of the specialized accrediting agencies accredit professional schools and other specialized or vocational or other postsecondary institutions that are free-standing in their operations. Thus, a "specialized" or "programmatic" accrediting agency may also function in the capacity of an "institutional" accrediting agency. In addition, a number of specialized accrediting agencies accredit educational programs within noneducational settings, such as hospitals.

Many states require an educational institution to be licensed to legally operate. This legal requirement is not accreditation, which determines the educational quality provided by the institution.

NWACC’s accreditation includes courses with all methods of delivery. 

In addition to institutional accreditation, several of NWACC's programs have received accreditation from professional organizations:

  • The Business and Computer programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

  • The Respiratory Therapy program is accredited by the Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC), 1248 Harwood Road, Bedford, TX 76021, 817-283-2835.

  • The Physical Therapist Assistant program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, 800-999-2782, extension 3245.

  • The Paramedic program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs upon the recommendation of the Committee on Accreditation for EMS Professions (CoAEMSP).  Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, 2540 US Highway 19 North, Suite 158, Clearwater, FL 33756 727-210-2350.

  • The EMS programs are approved through the Arkansas Department of Health, EMS Division, 4815 West Markham, Slot 38, Little Rock, AR 72205-3867, 501-661-2262.

  • The Fire Science Administration and Technology program is accredited by the International Fire Science Accreditation Congress (IFSAC), IFSAC/Oklahoma State University, 1723 West Tyler, Stillwater, OK 74078-8075, 405-744-8303.

  • The Nursing A.A.S. Degree program is approved by the Arkansas State Board of Nursing, University Tower Bldg., 1123 South University Suite 800, Little Rock, AR 72204-1619, 501-686-2700.

  • The Nursing A.A.S. Degree program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), 3343 Peachtree Road NE Suite 850, Atlanta, GA 30326, 404--975-5000.

  • The Health Information Management (HIM) program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIM), 200 East Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60601, 312-235-3255.

  • Early College Experience, high school-based program is accredited by the National alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships, 179 East Franklin Street, #578, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, 919-593-5205.