All of the Western Institute for Social Research’s (WISR’s) California State-licensed degree programs aim to prepare our students for successful and productive professional careers, community leadership and civic engagement in a multicultural world, and for personally meaningful lifelong learning. More specifically, WISR provides personalized, learner-centered education for meaningful transformative learning, and in building bridges to the most important things that the student wants to accomplish next in his or her professional career and/or in the community. All WISR degree programs aim to promote student development in the following core competencies of: action-oriented inquiry; multiculturalism; justice, sustainability and social change; critical and creative thinking and communication; becoming conscious, purposeful and improvising learners; community leadership and collaboration; and expertise in one’s chosen area(s) of specialization.
This degree program prepares students for jobs, careers, and/or paid or volunteer community involvements in entry level positions of community leadership in non-profit agencies, small businesses, grassroots organizations, and as self-employed activists and consultants. This program requires 124 semester units of study in a combination of general education, electives and major field of study. More
The Education program track of this degree program is aimed to meet the needs of innovatively-minded people who want to be prepared for jobs, careers, and/or paid or volunteer community involvements in improving one or more aspects of education—from pre-school through high school to higher education, and also including adult and community education. WISR’s MS program in Education is especially suited to students who are interested in promoting the development of learner-centered forms of education and/or in the role of education in working toward social changes for justice, sustainability and multiculturalism, either inside and outside of established schools and other educational institutions. The program is not designed for those seeking careers and jobs that require teachers’ credentials or school administration credentials or that require an accredited graduate degree. Graduates of this program may aim to seek employment in non-profits, some alternative private schools, nongovernmental organizations, or to start their own organizations or become self-employed. This program requires 36 semester units of graduate study, including required course work and individualized study, most of which is in the field of education and related studies. More
This program track prepares students for jobs, careers, and/or paid or volunteer community involvements in positions of community leadership and innovation in non-profit agencies, small businesses, grassroots organizations, and as self-employed activists and consultants. Graduates of this program may aim to bring about changes and reform in communities and organizations, and to start their own programs and initiatives–in working toward social changes for justice, sustainability and multiculturalism through community and organizational leadership. This program requires 36 semester units of graduate study, including required course work and individualized study, most of which is in the interdisciplinary field of community leadership and justice. This program includes much of the content and objectives from WISR’s now discontinued Master’s in Human Services and Community Development. More
This program is specifically designed by WISR, and approved by the State of California’s Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) to prepare students to obtain the State’s Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) License and the State’s Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) License. Upon the completion of this degree program (including as an option, some extra, required coursework for the LPCC), students must obtain the necessary number of hours of supervised internship experience and pass the State-required licensing exams, in order to obtain the MFT license, and if they choose as an added option, the LPCC license. This program prepares students for successful private counseling practice as an MFT and/or LPCC, and for professional practice in non-profit community agencies as well as in some public agencies, educational institutions and health organizations. This program requires 60+ semester units of study in areas designated by the State of California for these licenses, and incorporates both State-mandated content and individualized studies. More
This is an exceptionally innovative and extremely distinctive program of advanced, interdisciplinary and personalized studies, and it aims to prepare students for positions, careers, and/or significant volunteer work involving leadership and creative change through adult and higher education—for example, in the advanced education of professionals, adult continuing education, parent education, lay and community education, life coaching and relationship coaching, adult literacy, foreign language instruction, and global and international education; as instructors and faculty in colleges and universities, in working on curriculum development and reform in adult and higher education, the education of special populations with special needs, and the use of the internet, multimedia and mass media for education. This program is especially suited to students who are interested in the role of education in working toward social changes for justice, sustainability and multiculturalism, both inside and outside of established institutions of higher and adult learning. Graduates of this program may aim to seek employment in non-profits, schools, businesses, colleges, professional associations and educational groups, nongovernmental organizations, or to start their own organizations or become self-employed. This program requires 45 semester units of doctoral level, pre-dissertation study, with a combination of required coursework and personalized studies, followed by a dissertation (15 semester units). This innovative, emerging field of professional study is individualized and interdisciplinary in nature, with each student carving out one or more specializations related to education, psychology, social sciences, community services and development, social and intellectual activism, or related fields of study. The student’s pursuit of these specializations is mindful of the ways in which student learning and accomplishments can contribute to the education of others (professionals, scholars, and/or lay people) and to broader social change, as well. More
Discontinued, Previously Offered Degree Programs and Status of Students in Those Programs
Students enrolled prior to February 1, 2015 have been grandparented into the requirements and learning methods at the time of their admissions, unless they have withdrawn for more than a year. Those students must re-enroll by September 1, 2015, in order to complete their studies under the previous requirements and guidelines. Those re-enrolling after that time will be able to use their previously earned credit at WISR, and must then do the remainder of their credits within the guidelines of WISR’s new requirements and/or degree programs.
PhD in Higher Education and Social Change: Since June 1, 2013, WISR has admitted all new doctoral students to this EdD program, while previously enrolled doctoral students complete their PhDs in Higher Education and Social Change. We made the decision to switch the PhD program to an EdD program to enable us to explore the possibility of seeking national accreditation with an agency approved to accredit professional doctoral degrees. For PhD students enrolled prior to June 2013, the predissertation requirement is 42 semester units, followed by a 12 semester unit dissertation. Previously enrolled PhD students must re-enroll by September 1, 2015, in order to earn a PhD, and to do so under the previous requirements.
MA in Psychology (MFT, LPCC). This program has been changed to an MS in Psychology, still leading toward the MFT and LPCC licenses. Other changes are modest changes in the course syllabi. Continuing students will be strongly encouraged, but not required, to follow the new course syllabi. Students re-enrolling in this program after a period on leave will be required to follow the new syllabi.
MA in Psychology (non-MFT). The MA program in Psychology for 32 semester units (then more recently for 36 semester units), not leading toward the MFT license, has been discontinued. Previously enrolled students may complete this program by re-enrolling by September 1, 2015, or depending on the content of their thus far completed studies, they may receive transfer credit toward the most appropriate one of WISR’s currently offered MS degree programs.
MA in Social Sciences. The MA program in Social Sciences for 32 semester units (then more recently for 36 semester units) has been discontinued. Previously enrolled students may complete this program by re-enrolling by September 1, 2015, or depending on the content of their thus far completed studies, they may receive transfer credit toward the most appropriate one of WISR’s currently offered MS degree programs, most likely the MS in Community Leadership and Justice.
MA in Education. The MA program in Education for 32 (then more recently for 36 semester units) has been discontinued. Previously enrolled students will be automatically enrolled in the MS in Education program, and those re-enrolling after September 1, 2015 will be subject to the new requirements for this MS in Education.
BA in Psychology, BA in Social Sciences and BA in Human Services and Community Development. Students previously enrolled in these programs may complete these degrees, so long as they re-enroll by September 1, 2015. Currently and previously enrolled students may, if they wish, choose to complete the reminder of their requirements for the Bachelor’s as outlined for the new BS in Community Leadership and Justice, and then receive that degree. Those re-enrolling after September 1, 2015 will have to complete their requirements for the BS in Community Leadership and Justice. Previously completed work at WISR will be treated as transfer credit.
For the information of students enrolled in discontinued degree programs, you may wish to consult the WISR CATALOGUE as of May, 2014.
WISR offers enrollment to new students in the following California State licensed degree programs*:
- BS degree in Community Leadership and Justice;
- MS degree in Education and Community Leadership, with two program tracks: 1) Education and 2) Community Leadership and Justice;
- MS degree in Psychology that meets that State of California’s academic requirements for the Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) license and the Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) license.
- EdD in Higher Education and Social Change–45 semester units of pre-dissertation study, followed by a dissertation (15 semester units)– individualized and interdisciplinary studies in an innovative, emerging field, pioneered by WISR over the past 40 years, with each student carving out one or more specializations related to education, psychology, social sciences, community services and development, social and intellectual activism, or related fields of study. The student’s pursuit of these specializations is mindful of the ways in which student learning and accomplishments can contribute to the education of others (professionals, scholars, and/or lay people) and potentially to broader social change, as well.
More details can be found on our website regarding: Grading and Awarding Credit at WISR
*STATE REGULATIONS REQUIRING ALL APPROVED SCHOOLS, LIKE WISR. TO OBTAIN ACCREDITATION BY JULY 2020
§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:
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 June 2016 . .
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 have retained the services of a CPA who completed an audit of the most recent fiscal ending in June 2015, and that audit has been 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 $30,000 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).
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 was held at the end of this past October, and we 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. An award-winning writer has also joined our faculty and is holding ongoing monthly writing workshops for our students.
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.
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 data base 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 are completing 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 with the faculty and students on site. For most seminars, we are now offering video conference options, as well, with the use of $1,000 of recently purchased video conferencing equipment and the purchase of access to the online and phone conferencing services of GoToMeeting and GoTo Webinar. Out of the area students, previously expected to be on site for several days each year, are now required to do so.
15) WISR Press—WISR’s academic press—has published its first book. Specifically, the first book, is the first of a series of occasional issues of the Journal of the Western Institute for Social Research. The theme and title of the first book, the first issue of the journal, is Multiculturalism. Articles have been written by WISR alumni, students and faculty. The book is being widely distributed, as an e-book and very soon as a soft cover print book through Amazon (go to: http://www.amazon.com/Multiculturalism-Inaugural-Journal-Institute-Research-ebook/dp/B00U9P68B6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1427097203&sr=8-1&keywords=WISR , Barnes and Noble, ScribD, Kobo, Baker and Taylor, EBSCO, and others). Other books will soon be forthcoming, including 1) a book by WISR faculty member, Richard Lawrence, who was one of those who marched at Selma 50 years ago, entitled, Light, Bright, Almost White; 2) a book by WISR Doctoral student, Jake Sloan, on the history of the Civil Rights Employment Discrmination law suit brought by 21 African American workers in 1963 against the US Navy’s practices on Mare Island Naval Base. That latter book is based on Jake’s own experience as the youngest worker involved in that protest and subsequent, oral histories with other participants. Another book, soon to be published is a collection of Annotated Bibliographies written by 15 or so of WISR’s most recent graduates—their recommended readings in areas of study commonly pursued by WISR students.