Statement of Non-Discrimination and Affirmation of Diversity
Western Institute for Social Research admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability in the admissions or in the administration of its educational policies, scholarships and loan programs and all other school administered programs. In addition, WISR seeks actively to build a multiracial, multicultural learning and teaching community, in which the central values are built on the worth and distinctiveness of each person’s background, going beyond our differences to celebrate qualities and needs that we all share as humans. WISR actively encourages interested members of ethnic and racial minority groups, women, and other underserved persons to discover whether its programs and methods fit their special, personal and community interests and goals.
Entering students must attest to having a high school diploma, or having passed the GED exam. In addition, those with no previous college credit, must demonstrate in the first course at WISR that they are capable of doing this level of academic work. If they are not able to do this, they will have their tuition money refunded and not be allowed to continue in the program. They may, at a later date, reapply for admission if they successfully complete college level work elsewhere (e.g., in a California community college) and are subsequently able to study and perform well in the introductory course on “Learning the WISR Way.”
For admission to a Master of Science program, a Bachelor’s degree is required, and for admission to study for the Ed.D., each student must have a Master’s degree.
All admissions to study at WISR are made on the basis of intensive conversations with applicants about their goals, interests, and backgrounds, and applicants are told about the kinds of learning and action that are involved in studying with us. Initial discussions may be informal. WISR is interested in working with students who find a common bond with the Institute’s stated philosophy and goals. WISR also seeks students who want a flexible program, tailored to their individual needs, but who also want discipline and rigor in their studies. These and other issues are discussed frankly and openly with each serious applicant, and students’ intelligent self-selection to study at WISR is very deliberately emphasized. Many tentatively interested inquirers are discouraged from formally applying if their specific interests, personal maturity, or resources of time and money do not promise success in study here.
In particular, each applicant must discuss her or his background and objectives with a core faculty member, usually WISR’s President. Interested persons are routinely encouraged to visit WISR seminars and to talk with other faculty, students, and Board members of WISR, to gain several perspectives on study at WISR and a sense of the learning community that they may be joining. In practice, an informed self-selection process typically takes place.
Calendar and Enrollment
WISR’s fiscal year begins on July 1. Programs continue year-round, although seminar activity is usually less in the summer. Students may apply, be admitted, and begin study in any month of the year, and may complete their programs in any month.
State Regulations Requiring WISR and All Approved Schools 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.
Transfer of Academic Credit to WISR Received from Other Institutions
Subject to the specific qualifications and limitations listed below, students may transfer credit to WISR from other California State Approved programs and from regionally accredited institutions. If the student has received credit from an institution that has neither of these statuses, then WISR faculty will evaluate the student’s work and/or other evidence regarding the quality of the student’s work at the previous institution to determine if it is comparable in quality to the work typically done in California Approved and regionally accredited institutions. [Note under current California 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)
No more than 90 semester units may be transferred from other institutions toward WISR’s 124 semester units required for the BS. No more than 6 semester units of graduate study may be transferred toward WISR’s 36 semester units required for WISR MS in Education and Community Leadership degree. For WISR’s MFT program, students who have completed academic work which clearly meets State guidelines and WISR’s descriptions of the core courses required for WISR’s MFT MS in Psychology option may then receive up to 12 semester units of transfer credit. No more than 15 units of doctoral level credit may be transferred toward Doctoral studies at WISR.
Undergraduate: All undergraduate units earned by a student from any regionally accredited or California State-approved college or university are routinely accepted for credit by WISR. Undergraduate units from foreign institutions or from unaccredited institutions and those not approved by the State of California are accepted by WISR if they can be translated into U.S. equivalents or in quality of work expected of students at WISR. Nationally recognized standardized tests such as the CLEP tests WISR will also be considered for credit.
Graduate: For WISR’s MFT program, students who have completed academic work which clearly meets State guidelines and WISR’s descriptions of the core courses required for WISR’s MFT MS in Psychology option may then receive up to 12 semester units of transfer credit. Courses transferred for students entering the MFT program are evaluated by WISR’s President, sometimes in consultation with licensed MFT’s on WISR’s faculty, to make certain that the course titles/descriptions closely parallel State guidelines, as well as WISR’s descriptions for core MFT courses.
In other graduate programs at WISR, each student’s prior graduate study is taken into careful account, in planning out her or his program of study, in order to build on the student’s strengths and avoid duplication of efforts. Some graduate course work is accepted for transfer in such cases. At the request of the prospective student, the President, often in consultation with a Board-appointed subcommittee of two or three Board and/or faculty members, who hold graduate degrees, evaluates the student request for transfer of credit. Credit is accepted for transfer only if it is determined, after examining the student’s transcript(s) and/or samples of the student’s academic work, that the work to be accepted for transfer credit is comparable in substance and quality to work expected at WISR. For (non-MFT) MS students a maximum of six semester units is transferable, and at the doctoral level, a maximum of 15 semester units is transferable.
Foreign Students—No ESL Instruction, no I-20 status, but assistance in obtaining permission to visit:
WISR does admit students from other countries. However, WISR does not provide English as a Second Language, or English as a Foreign Language, instruction. All instruction is conducted in English. Some students who are not native English speakers, but who are fluent in English, have enrolled and successfully completed programs at WISR. WISR’s admissions process helps faculty and all prospective students to assess their skills, learning needs and interests, and aids WISR faculty and the prospective student in determining whether or not WISR can meet his or her educational needs. Enrollment at WISR does not provide foreign students with I-20 status (i.e., WISR students do not qualify for foreign student visas.). However, WISR has and will vouch for a student’s enrollment status and verify that WISR requires all students studying from a distance to visit WISR for a few days every year or so. By so vouching and verifying, WISR is usually able to assist foreign students in obtaining permission to visit the United States for a brief period, for this purpose.
For More on Admissions
Each prospective student should read and explore our website carefully, and in particular, should read the following sections as first steps in learning about how to enroll at WISR:
And, of course, each student should carefully read the extensive details in the various subsections under “Academics.”