Networking & Careers
At WISR, career development and networking is integrated into the entire learning process.
At WISR, like at most colleges and universities, students use the attainment of an academic degree to give them added credibility in the pursuit of career advancement. In most academic programs, a student first gets a degree, and then uses that degree to qualify for a particular type of job. At WISR, by contrast, students are assisted and encouraged to pursue career objectives while they are enrolled, and to use their projects at WISR as part of this pursuit.
Indeed, WISR faculty make conscious and concerted efforts to help WISR students to design learning activities—action projects, writings and research—which will build bridges to each student’s desired career path and objectives. For this reason, many WISR alumni believe that it was very significant that WISR gave them the academic, social and emotional support, and impetus, to develop and embark on their own self-defined, and oftentimes, very distinctive, career paths, while they were still in the midst of their studies at WISR. They have often commented on the value they place on the personalized assistance they received from WISR faculty, to not limit their visions by the definitions of existing jobs, and to enable them to construct their studies at WISR in ways that were both visionary and realistic in pursuing the next steps of a personally meaningful life path.
WISR alumni have also frequently told us of the value of the letters of reference that WISR faculty were able to write for them—because faculty get to know students so very well at WISR, they are able to back up the letters they write on behalf of former students with considerable convincing detail and tangible illustrations about the capabilities and qualities of their students. In addition, WISR students sometimes choose to present some of the projects they completed at WISR as further proof of their capabilities—evidence which is more persuasive to most employers than a simple transcript containing grades and titles of courses completed.
Still, prospective students should be aware that there are some risks and possible limitations associated with having an unaccredited, State-licensed degree
What Kinds of Jobs can I get with a WISR, California State-licensed degree? And what are the risks of an unaccredited degree like this? . . .
All prospective students should understand that WISR’s degree is unaccredited but State licensed, and that this results in risks for some prospective students but not others. For this reason, we alert all prospective students to the strengths and limitations of WISR’s State licensed degree. Over the decades, our students have been very, very successful in using their WISR degrees for employment in non-profit agencies and also in setting up their own consulting practices, and in many cases, also in pursuing occasional grants and outside funding.
We caution prospective students that in many cases, public agencies (Federal, State, and local) are not interested in receiving applications from people who hold unaccredited degrees. In most cases, those hiring for these agencies are not aware that California State Approval* even exists [*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 )], and they are not motivated to take the time to hear explanations from prospective employees about the solidity of State approved degrees. Still, some of our graduates have been hired by public agencies. Nevertheless, we want all prospective students to know that in this area of employment, having a State approved degree is likely to be a liability in many cases, at least.
Furthermore, in terms of doing more advanced graduate study in the future at an accredited institution, or in seeking a faculty position at an accredited college or university, there is definitely some risk, although in our experience, some of our alumni have been admitted to accredited graduate schools, and more than a few have been employed as faculty in accredited institutions. Most of our alumni so employed have held part-time positions, many of them in community colleges. Several of our PhD alumni have obtained full-time, tenure track positions in accredited universities. Other things being equal, our alumni are at a disadvantage when applying for graduate study or faculty positions in a traditional, accredited institution, partly just because “WISR” doesn’t have “big name recognition.” In our experience a lot depends on the particular attitudes of the particular faculty making decisions in a particular department, in a particular institution during a particular year. It is hard to generalize, but clearly a WISR alumnus is likely to be at a disadvantage unless he or she is being evaluated by a fairly progressive group of faculty.
One WISR MA degree program option is approved to meet the academic requirement for the California MFT license, as well as for the new LPCC license, and for these purposes, it has equal status with accredited degrees. Over the years, our MFT alumni have performed exceedingly well on the State MFT licensing exams, and they have usually been very successful in their professional practices. Nevertheless, those prospective students contemplating moving out of State should learn about the reciprocity laws and arrangements with California. Generally speaking, those who are interested in practicing as a counselor in another state will find that their odds of being able to do so increases dramatically if they first get the California license and then move, rather than trying to use their WISR MA degree in another state without first getting the California license. Nevertheless, a bit over 10 years ago, one of our alumni obtained her Colorado, and then her Arizona, license without first obtaining the California license. We do not know whether or not this would still be the case.
Can I Transfer Credit from WISR, or use my WISR degree, if I wish to later study at an Accredited college or university?
Despite the striking successes of WISR alumni in the workplace, students considering enrollment at WISR should be aware of the risks of transferring credit from one institution to another, especially from WISR, which is very small, non-traditional, and has State licensure rather than regional accreditation. Prospective students are discouraged from seeing WISR as a stepping-stone to further studies at other institutions, because of the risks involved, unless they first check with the specific institution(s) to which they plan to transfer. The risks are especially high for students who do not complete an entire degree program, and then wish to transfer credits to another institution where they would complete their degree.
NOTICE CONCERNING TRANSFERABILITY OF CREDITS AND CREDENTIALS EARNED AT OUR INSTITUTION
The 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.
Generally speaking, WISR students have not sought to do graduate study at another institution after obtaining a BA or MA at WISR. The above noted, very real risks, notwithstanding, the WISR graduates who have applied elsewhere have oftentimes been successful. We know of only one alumnus who was turned down by another graduate program. After receiving his BA in Psychology at WISR, he applied to a Master’s program at Hayward State. He was not admitted, although based on follow-up conversations that one of our Board members had with faculty at Hayward State, it seems likely that his BA from WISR was not a significant factor in his not being admitted. We know of one WISR BA student who was admitted to a regionally accredited graduate theological seminary. We also know that two WISR BA alumni were admitted to State-licensed MA programs approved as leading toward the MFT (formerly the MFCC) license, that three WISR MA graduates were admitted to State-licensed PhD programs leading toward the Clinical Psychology license, and that a fourth was admitted to a regionally accredited PhD program in Clinical Psychology. Another WISR MA alumnus, with the primary objective of obtaining her Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine was successful in being admitted to, and them completing, the program at John Bastyr Medical College in Seattle. The majority of our alumni keep us informed of their endeavors, and we are not aware of other attempts by WISR graduates to gain admission to other institutions.
Prospective students should take seriously the risks involved in having as a main objective, gaining admission to a more conventional graduate program after receiving a degree from WISR or completing coursework at WISR. Prospective students are encouraged to ask questions and to talk further with WISR faculty, alumni and students about their questions regarding the uses of a WISR degree in their future, hoped-for professional and academic endeavors.
These possible limitations notwithstanding, those people who have chosen to be students at WISR, after careful deliberation, have almost always found that their professional careers after graduation have been meaningful and successful in ways that are very important to them.