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Important Legally Required Disclosures

Quite appropriately, the State of California requires that the Western Institute for Social Research (WISR), and all unaccredited, State Approved schools, colleges and universities, disclose to prospective students possible limitations students may subsequently encounter in using their State Approved, but unaccredited degrees. We have discussed the uses and limitations of WISR degrees at great length in here and also in other sections of our website and online catalogue, in particular, please consult the section, “Learning About WISR.”We repeat some of the highlights of the points mentioned elsewhere in this section on “Tuition and Fees” because it is important for prospective students to be aware of the most important limitations they may encounter in using a WISR degree.

40th Anniversary w-out 2015


§71775.5. Pre-enrollment Disclosure; Notice to Prospective Degree Program Students; Institutions with Existing Approvals to Operate.

(a), An approved unaccredited institution enrolling a student in a degree program shall, prior to execution of an enrollment agreement, provide the student with the following notice, which shall be in at least 12-point type in the same font as the enrollment agreement:
Notice to Prospective Degree Program Students

This institution is approved by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education to offer degree programs. To continue to offer degree programs, this institution must meet the following requirements:
• Become institutionally accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education, with the scope of the accreditation covering at least one degree program.
• Achieve accreditation candidacy or pre-accreditation, as defined in regulations, by July 1, 2017, and full accreditation by July 1, 2020.
If this institution stops pursuing accreditation, the following will happen:
• The institution must stop all enrollment in its degree programs, and
• Provide a teach-out to finish the educational program or provide a refund.
An institution that fails to comply with accreditation requirements by the required dates shall have its approval to offer degree programs automatically suspended.
Institutional Representative Initials: __________ Student Initials: __________13
Date: ___________ Date: ___________”
(b) The student and an institutional representative shall initial and date the notice prior to executing an enrollment agreement. An initialed copy of the notice shall be given to the student and the original shall be retained in the enrolled student’s records.
(c) The notice shall also be posted immediately adjacent to wherever an institution’s degree granting programs are described and shall include, at a minimum, the following locations:
(1) The institution’s catalog.
(2) The institution’s website.
(3) The institution’s degree program brochures.
(d) This section shall remain in effect until July 1, 2021, and as of that date is repealed.
NOTE: Authority cited: Sections 94803, 94877, 94885 and 94885.1, Education Code. Reference:
Sections 94885, 94885.1, 94897, 94900, 94900.5, 94909, 94927.5 and 94932 Education Code.

What does this mean for WISR and for WISR students?

Prior to this new law and regulation, WISR had already decided to pursue national accreditation (see below)

With all accreditation efforts, there can never be a guarantee that an institution will be successful.  The information here is to provide updates on the concerted efforts and steps that we at WISR are taking to achieve national accreditation by 2020, and hopefully a bit before then. For legal and ethical reasons we cannot promise that we will obtain accreditation, but we will be transparent in disclosing our progress—to the State of California as required by law, and to students, prospective students and interested members of the general public, as well, because such disclosures to the State must be made public.

 WISR Board, faculty, alumni and students are strongly committed to obtaining accreditation, and will keep students, prospective students and the State informed of our progress (see update below). If WISR does not obtain accreditation by July 2020, WISR faculty will do a teach out with all WISR students, and those students will be able to receive an academic degree that is fully approved by the State of California.

Update on WISR’s steps in our progress toward National Accreditation, as of May 2017:

Prior to the creation of this new State regulation, WISR’s Board decided in early 2014 that WISR should pursue national accreditation from a national accrediting agency, the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), which is recognized by the US Department of Education and by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). In June 2014, WISR was visited by the senior staff person of that agency, who is in charge of their accreditation process, and following that visit, the accreditation representative shared observations and suggestions with Dr. John Bilorusky, WISR President.  Following this conversation, WISR faculty and Board made a decision that WISR should pursue further the next steps involved in seeking accreditation from that agency.  In October 2014, Dr. John Bilorusky, attended the initial, and required, accreditation workshop for CEOs of institutions seeking accreditation from that agency.

Since July 2014, WISR’s Board, faculty, students and alumni have been taking a number of steps as part of the accreditation process . . . As of May 2017 . .

1)         In Spring 2016, ACICS formally invited WISR to submit formal application for accreditation.  WISR did this by submitting our initial application fee to ACICS, the required information and paperwork about our institutional enrollment and status, and recent audit of our financials by a CPA.

2)         We retained the services of a CPA who completed an audit of the most recent fiscal years ending in June 2015, June 2016 (and soon June 2017 as well), and the 2015 audit was submitted to and approved by the national accrediting agency, ACICS, as one step in our process toward seeking accreditation with ACICS.

3)         Our fund-raising campaign to raise the monies associated with ACICS fees, library improvements, audit fees, and other costs associated with institutional improvements is going very well.  So far, alumni, Board, faculty, students and friends of WISR have contributed over $50,000 and we have pledges for additional donations in the coming months.

4)         Board and faculty are now engaged in a series of planning and institutional development discussion and initiatives, and we are involving a number of alumni, students and friends of WISR as well.

5)         In particular, faculty are meeting on a monthly basis as a group, and there are subcommittees taking on various tasks, including the development of a career information and resource center, and the review and refinement of the curriculum and requirements for each degree program.  WISR faculty are reviewing the details of WISR curriculum, with a view to adding some structure to each course syllabus in compliance with ACICS’ requirements, while also preserving WISR’s important emphasis on enabling each student to personalize his or her studies within the framework of WISR’s broad academic requirements and stated learning goals and objectives for each program and course of study.

6)         In Spring 2016, we began the data gathering and self-study required by ACICS, including work on the Campus Accountability Report (CAR) and the Campus Effectiveness Plan (CEP).

Based on this self-study and the ongoing dialogue over the past year, among faculty, Board, students and alumni, we have identified: 1) areas of strength at WISR that must be sustained; 2) areas of needed improvement; 3) a high level of satisfaction by students and alumni, as well as by coworkers and employers of students and alumni—in terms of WISR’s contributions to student learning. Further, we have developed a plan and a timetable for making concerted and continued progress in working on the areas of needed improvement, including budgetary projections that will support the accomplishment of these improvements, and that will sustain WISR as a vital, high quality institution of higher learning for many, many years into the future.

7)         We have added to and strengthened our program of faculty development—to support WISR faculty in their roles as professionals, as mentors at WISR, and as academicians.  As part of this, faculty receive monthly recommendations of useful articles to read, and their regular discussions and presentations during and outside of faculty meetings to support faculty development.

8)         Our three-day annual conference, held at the end of October 2016, devoted about 50 percent of the conference sessions to dialogues and institutional planning in support of our accreditation efforts.   This helped to engage a number of students and alumni in working with faculty and Board on our accreditation process.

9)         We have begun instituting with all WISR faculty the formulation of annual self-development plans.

10)       We have added several new faculty with extensive previous professional and academic experience, all of whom have earned accredited doctorates.  These faculty are making important contributions to our MS in Psychology program and to our EdD program, in particular.

11)       We have received approval from the State of California oversight agency (BPPE) to consolidating some of our degree programs—in particular, we are now offering only one Bachelor’s degree—a BS in Community Leadership and Justice (instead of three Bachelor’s degrees), and we are only offering two Master’s degrees (instead of five)—an MS in Education and Community Leadership, and an MS in Psychology, Marriage and Family Therapy (leading toward the State’s Marriage and Family Therapy License and concurrently toward the new Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor License).  Note that we took your advice to change the degrees from BA and MA to BS and MS, to more clearly communicate our emphasis on professional education and preparation.  These changes have been considered “non-substantive” by the State. Those students currently in the discontinued degree programs, BA in Psychology and MA in Psychology (not leading to the State counseling licenses) are of course covered and grandparented in, and allowed to finish the degrees they started unless they choose out of a preference to switch to one of the new degree programs. Our State Reapproval has been extended for five years through 2022.

12)       We have identified a friend of WISR, Cynthia Roberson, who just received her Master’s in Library and Information Sciences from San Jose State University.  She is the daughter of one of our doctoral alumni, and she has assumed a number of major duties for us, including: helping WISR faculty and students to identify and access a greater range of online databases, making herself available to students and faculty to do reference interviews (to assess learner needs for library resources and to help them in obtaining needed resources), and quite significantly, to set up and begin a systematic cataloging of the books in our library.  In this regard, she is guiding us and taking a coordinative role at WISR: in selecting and purchasing online database management services for cataloging and maintaining our library, in training volunteers who will participate in the actual cataloging and database computer entries, and in organizing a meaningful system for cataloging the books and journals in our library.  We have also successfully enlisted the interest and support, as an informal consultant, of the head librarian of the social research library at the University of California at Berkeley, Susan Edwards.  We are aiming to complete the cataloging of the books and journals in our library by the end of 2015, or very soon thereafter.  We are buying a copy for the reserve section of our library of most books that are required or recommended for reading by WISR students, in each degree program.  As of July 1, 2015, all WISR students and faculty with have access to an extensive online database of research articles and library/information resources through WISR’s subscription to the Library Information and Resources Network (LIRN).

13)       With the help of two WISR graduate students, we completed the analysis and written report of the findings of a major survey of all 55 students enrolled at WISR in the two previous years.  We received questionnaire responses from 32 of the 55 students, and the WISR graduate students conducted in depth interviews with over half of those 32 students.  The questions address the extent of student satisfaction with the learning at WISR, how well and in what ways they are using their learning in their professional and community work, and the student evaluations of the methods at WISR that are strong and in need of improvement in contributing to learning.

14)       We have increased the numbers of seminars available to WISR students each month, so that there are a half dozen or so options, thereby enabling most students to participate in two or more seminars each month.  Students who live nearby can participate on-site at WISR, and those learning at a distance can participate by phone conference call or video conference with the faculty and students on site.

15) In early 2017, we learned that we cannot count on ACICS retaining the US Department of Education recognition that they lost in late 2016, and in any case, ACICS has decided to no longer consider for accreditation those institutions offering a doctoral degree. As a result, we have decided to pursue accreditation with a different, and highly legitimate agency. We will report on that progress in due time, and in compliance with that agency’s policy on what can be stated about such progress, in what terms and when. As noted above, with all accreditation efforts, there can never be a guarantee that an institution will be successful. 

In compliance with Assembly Bill 2296, Chapter 585, Statutes of 2012, effective January 1, 2013, WISR discloses the following:
WISR offers unaccredited BS, MS and Doctoral degrees—that is, WISR is not accredited by an agency recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE).

WISR’s degree programs are approved by the State Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education [ “Approved” means, “approval to operate” which means compliance with state standards as set forth in the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 (California Education Code, Title 3,  Division 10, Part 59, Chapter 8)].  More information may be obtained from the Bureau’s website:  www.bppe.ca.gov

Graduates of WISR’s MS in Psychology program that is designed to meet the State’s academic requirements for the MFT and LPCC licenses, respectively, are eligible to sit for those licensure exams in California after meeting the other requirements (most notably, sufficient hours of supervised internship).  WISR makes no claims that students may sit for licensing exams in other states.  Students and prospective students interested in licensing in other states should contact those states for definitive information.  Oftentimes, the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) will be able to help its student members of that association learn how to obtain information from other states.

Students and prospective students should know that a degree program that is unaccredited or from an unaccredited institution is not recognized for some employment positions, including, but not limited to, positions with the State of California.Students enrolled in unaccredited institutions are not eligible for federal financial aid programs.Further information regarding required disclaimers is below . . WISR Collage

1.TRANSFER OF CREDIT TO, AND USE OF DEGREES IN, ACCREDITED INSTITUTIONS:Generally speaking, it is wise not to expect to transfer credit at the graduate level (MS or Doctoral) between two institutions, because most graduate programs want students to all of their graduate degree program work at that institution. Transferring credit at the BS level is not so difficult between accredited institutions, but since WISR is State approved and unaccredited, those considering WISR’s BS program should NOT plan to transfer ANY of their undergraduate credit to an accredited institution, nor use their BS degree itself (for admissions to a graduate program in an accredited institution). Specifically:The transferability of credits you earn at WISR is at the complete discretion of an institution to which you may seek to transfer. Acceptance of the BS or MS you earn at WISR is also at the complete discretion of the institution to which you may seek to transfer. If the credits or degree that you earn at this institution are not accepted at the institution to which you seek to transfer, you may be required to repeat some or all of your coursework at that institution. For this reason you should make certain that your attendance at this institution will meet your educational goals. This may include contacting an institution to which you may seek to transfer after attending WISR to determine if your credits or degree will transfer.
NOTICE CONCERNING TRANSFERABILITY OF CREDITS AND CREDENTIALS EARNED AT OUR INSTITUTIONThe transferability of credits you earn at the Western Institute for Social Research (WISR) is at the complete discretion of an institution to which you may seek to transfer. Acceptance of the degree or academic credits you earn in the Western Institute for Social Research (WISR) is also at the complete discretion of the institution to which you may seek to transfer. If the credits or degee that you earn at this institution are not accepted at the institution to which you seek to transfer, you may be required to repeat some or all of your coursework at that institution. For this reason you should make certain that your attendance at this institution will meet your educational goals. This may include contacting an institution to which you may seek to transfer after attending WISR to determine if your credits or degree will transfer.

2. USES AND LIMITATIONS OF WISR’S UNACCREDITED DEGREES TO OBTAIN EMPLOYMENT AND LICENSURE:Only one of WISR’s degree programs is specifically designed to lead to employment in a specific career—the MS in Psychology that meets the State’s academic requirements for the Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) license, and more recently the LPCC license, as well, is designed to help students move toward eventual licensing and careers and employment as licensed MFTs (and for some as LPCCs as well). The significant and typical successes of our MFT program alumni in accomplishing these particular employment and licensing goals is described in our “School Performance Fact Sheet for the MFT Program” which is on our website and available as a hard copy, upon request.
Although the success of WISR alumni in professional advancement and employment is very impressive and well documented, the success of any one student in using their degree from WISR to obtain a particular job definitely CANNOT BE GUARANTEED OR EVEN EXPECTED. Although WISR has been State Approved since 1977 [under current law, “Approved” means, “approval to operate” which means compliance with state standards as set forth in the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 (California Education Code, Title 3,  Division 10, Part 59, Chapter 8)], it is not regionally or nationally accredited, and indeed, very tiny institutions such as WISR are seldom, if ever, even evaluated by the regional accrediting agency, and the relevant national agencies do not evaluate institutions offering PhD programs. IT IS IMPORTANT TO EMPHASIZE THAT WISR’S DEGREES ARE UNACCREDITED, AND THEREFORE, WISR STUDENTS AND ALUMNI MAY SOMETIMES BE ELIMINATED FROM CONSIDERATION FOR SOME JOBS, AS WELL AS FOR LICENSURE AND CERTIFICATION IN MOST FIELDS IN OTHER STATES.
The actual experience of WISR students is that they are mostly satisfactorily employed in jobs and careers that they have desired, oftentimes with much greater success than they even hoped for prior to enrolling at WISR. Nevertheless, there are fairly common instances where students and alumni have found that they are eliminated from consideration for some jobs and promotions in public agencies (Federal, State, County, City) when for reasons of legality or bureaucratic convenience, the public agency stipulates that an accredited degree is required for a particular position. Seldom, if ever, have our alumni or students encountered difficulties, because of WISR’s unaccredited status, in obtaining jobs in non-profit and community-based agencies. Similarly, WISR students and alumni have in many cases been successful in obtaining foundation grants, being hired as consultants, and writing books and articles for publication. Although WISR alumni have sometimes been hired for faculty-time faculty positions in large, accredited institutions (e.g., San Francisco State, University of California, Morris Brown University), and many have obtained part-time positions in such institutions, it is well documented that many college and university hiring committees will not consider applicants holding unaccredited degrees.

3. WISR’S FINANCIAL INTEGRITY: WISR has never had a pending petition in bankruptcy, is not operating as a debtor in possession, has never filed a petition for bankruptcy, and has never had a petition in bankruptcy filed against it that resulted in reorganization under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code.

4. The State requires that we remind students that:  if a student obtains a loan to pay for an educational program, the student will have to repay the full amount of the loan plus interest, less the amount of any refund, and that, if the student receives federal student financial aid funds, the student is entitled to a refund of the moneys not paid from federal financial aid funds.

5. ACCESS TO WISR’S ANNUAL REPORTS TO THE STATE: State of California’s Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) is making the annual reports of all approved* [*under current State law,  Approved” means, “approval to operate” which means compliance with state standards as set forth in the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 (California Education Code, Title 3,  Division 10, Part 59, Chapter )] institutions, including WISR, available on the State’s website at:  https://www.dca.ca.gov/webapps/bppe/annual_report.php

6. WISR’s 2016 Annual Report can be accessed here.


Any questions a student may have regarding this catalog that have not been satisfactorily answered by the institution may be directed to the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education at  2535 Capitol Oaks Drive, Suite 400, Sacramento, CA 95833,   www.bppe.ca.gov Telephone (888) 370-7589 or by fax (916) 263-1897

A student or any member of the public may file a complaint about this institution with the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education by calling (888)370-7589 or by completing a complaint form, which can be obtained on the bureau’s internet Web site www.bppe.ca.gov