Accreditation History

photo: Central Classroom Building lined with palm trees along El Paseo de Ceasar Chavez

SJSU was first accredited in 1949. Since that time, reviews for re-accreditation have occured at least once every 10 years. The most recent review period began when the campus submitted its institutional proposal in 2002.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accredits institutions, not individual programs. Therefore, in addition to assessing the academic quality and educational effectiveness of institutions, the Commission emphasizes institutional structures, processes, and resources. Following acceptance of an institutional proposal framing the review, SJSU prepares for two separate visits from WASC. The first is referred to as the Preparatory Review and the second is the Educational Effectiveness Review.

Historical Overview


San José State is a major, comprehensive public university located in the center of San José and in the heart of Silicon Valley. SJSU is the oldest state university in California. Its distinctive character has been forged by its long history, by its location, and by its vision, a blend of the old and the new, of the traditional and the innovative. Among its most prized traditions is an uncompromising commitment to offer access to higher education to all persons who meet the criteria for admission, yielding a stimulating mix of age groups, cultures, and economic backgrounds for teaching, learning, and research. SJSU takes pride in and is firmly committed to teaching and learning, with a faculty that is active in scholarship, research, technological innovation, community service, and the arts. 

  • 1857: San José State is founded as a Normal School and becomes the first institution of public higher education in the state. 
  • 1935: Renamed San José State College. 
  • 1949: SJSU accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) 
  • 1960: The individual California State Colleges were brought together as a system by the Donahoe Higher Education Act of 1960. 
  • 1972: The system becomes California State University and Colleges. 
  • 1982: The system becomes the California State University (CSU). 


Today the 23 campuses of the CSU system include comprehensive and polytechnic universities, and, since July 1995, the California Maritime Academy, a specialized campus. The SJSU campus alone is composed of 30,000 students and over 2,000 faculty and staff. The information SJSU prepares for its reaccreditation review provides an excellent  data view of SJSU. 

To nurture the continued development of strong academic programs and services to support student development and success the campus is fully engaged in a strategic planning process intended to help San José State University prepare for the future. It helps us serve our mission, reach our vision and guide resource allocation. 

The campus is located in downtown San José, the site of the oldest civil settlement (established in 1777) in California. The city of San José is the 11th largest city in the United States and the third largest in California with a population of 926,200. Known as the “Capital of Silicon Valley,” San José was called the “epicenter of information technology” by Fortune magazine. 

The education level of the San José metropolitan area workforce is one of the highest in the country; 67 percent of the workforce has some post-secondary education, and 48 percent have earned a college degree. The city also has the lowest crime rate of any major city (those with populations of 500,000 or more) in the United States.

Core Principles and Standards

The accrediation process has changed considerably since SJSU's previous review. To its credit, WASC, following an extensive period of reflection and discussion with the many institutions it accredits, has developed a focused review process. This new approach provides institutions with the flexibility needed to make the review one that facilitates the growth and development of the institution along its own unique path.

WASC reviews institutions with respect to their committment to core principles called Institutional Capacity and Educational Effectiveness. To become and remain accredited,each institution is expected to demonstrate that it is committed to developing and sustaining Institutional Capacity and Educational Effectiveness. With respect to Institutional Capacity, WASC expects an institution to function with clear purposes,high levels of institutional integrity,fiscal stability, and organizational structures to fulfill its purposes. With respect to Educational Effectiveness, WASC looks for evidence of clear and appropriate educational objectives and design at the institutional and program level. WASC also expects institutions to employ processes of review, including the collection and use of data, that assure delivery of programs and learner accomplishments at a level of performance appropriate for the degree or certificate awarded.

At each review (preparatory/capacity & educational effectiveness) institutions need to present information that conveys to WASC the extent to which they have met each of four standards [pdf] articulated by WASC.

  • Standard 1. Defining Institutional Purposes and Ensuring Educational Objectives.
  • Standard 2. Achieving Educational Objectives Through Core Functions
  • Standard 3. Developing and Applying Resources and Organizational Structures to Ensure Sustainability.
  • Standard 4. Creating an Organization Committed to Learning and Improvement.