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Admissions and Enrollment

The Western Institute for Social Research (WISR) accepts applications for admissions to all of its degree programs year-round. New students may begin any month of the year, once they have submitted the appropriate paperwork, and quite importantly, once they have learned enough about WISR’s offerings to make an informed decision as to whether or not WISR is the right choice for them.

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:

Discussion of Admissions Policies and Criteria:


More details pertaining to Admissions and Making an Informed Decision about applying:

And, of course, each student should carefully read the extensive details in the various subsections under “Academics.”


Notification of Admissions Decision

If a student is admitted they are notified by email or “in person,” online or on site, at a scheduled meeting with the CEO or Chief Academic Officer, and this notification is conveyed by giving them the various documents that include the enrollment agreement and various disclosures [See The Enrollment Agreement, below]. Further, when students are admitted, they are given a copy of the Admissions Application Form, with the date of admissions and the date of eligible enrollment, signed by the CEO or Chief Academic Officer.

If the student is denied admission, they are informed in writing by email or snail mail from the CEO or the CAdO, and the reasons for denying them admission are stated. Any student denied admission may also appeal to WISR’s Board of Trustees.  If the prospective student is only to be admitted on a provisional basis, they are given a letter indicating this, and the letter will indicate the maximum allowable time of enrollment on the provisional basis (not to exceed a year), and they must discuss this option further with the CEO and/or Chief Administrative Officer, so that the prospective student may make an informed decision whether or not to proceed with enrollment on this basis.

Before Enrolling, Students Read and Sign the Following:


The Enrollment Agreement

Disclosures and Requirements for WISR Students—regarding Online and Distance Learning . . . (Sept, 2021)

  1. A WISR faculty member will confer with each enrolling student to discuss the first steps and activities in their learning at WISR, whether the student is living at a distance from WISR, or not, within 7 days of the student’s date of enrollment. WISR uses a combination of online learning—through a Learning Management System (Google Education Suite)—and real time interaction between students and faculty, and among students. The real time interaction may be on site at WISR, by phone or by internet. All WISR seminars are offered by video/audio conference (accessed by either phone or internet), and most are simultaneously on site. At the moment, we use Zoom’s conference services. In addition, most seminars are recorded and available later, online, through WISR’s Google Education Suite.
  2. When first enrolling students, must verify their identity by showing an official ID with a photo (e.g., passport or driver’s license) and having a WISR official check their identity either in person or by video conference, or face to face, on site at WISR.
  3. WISR protects students’ privacy and students will be updated annually on WISR’s policies. WISR complies with FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) regulations, and we are currently in the initial stages of taking steps toward complying with the more stringent requirements of European Union’s GDPR laws (General Data Protection Regulation).
  4. For students learning at a distance and those residing locally, instruction centers on real time interaction between students and faculty—either face to face or by phone conference (the latter is used with local students from time to time as well as with students studying at a distance). Instruction is aided by the use of online courses through Google Education Suite, as well as sometimes of communications, drafts of papers, and comments on drafts between students and faculty. All WISR students are required to obtain a wisr.edu email address, and they will be shown how to have those emails forwarded to the current, primary email address. Exceptions may sometimes be made for students only taking one course or several courses, rather than an entire degree program.
  5. Students are responsible to backup drafts of their papers, and especially of theses and dissertations—through the Google Drive available with their wisr.edu email address. No student wants to write several pages of work, much less dozens or hundreds of pages, and lose their writing if their computer crashes. It does happen.
  6. Students are required to respond to two to four annual surveys from WISR—this is important part of WISR’s ongoing commitment to improving our curriculum and instruction and to sustaining WISR as a quality and valuable institution of higher learning. Usually, there will be at least two surveys during the summer—one to evaluate WISR faculty and their teaching performance, and another to evaluate WISR’s contributions to each student’s learning and to elicit suggestions for improvement. Sometimes, there will be one or two other surveys each year—for example, as part of WISR’s Strategic Planning Process. Students may count the time spent responding to surveys as part of their required hours of collaboration for WISR courses.
  7. As stated in WISR’s enrollment agreement, a Full Refund may be obtained by withdrawing within 7 days of the beginning of an enrollment agreement, or at the student’s first instructional session, whichever is later. Since all students meet with a faculty member within 7 days, they will still have the 7-day period in which to cancel and receive a full refund.
  8. WISR offers distance educational programs in which some instructions may not be offered in real time; WISR shall transmit the first lesson and any materials, through WISR’s provision to the student of access to WISR’s online courses, to any student within seven days after WISR accepts the student for admission.
  9. The student shall have the right to cancel the enrollment agreement and receive a full refund before the first lesson and materials are received through WISR’s provision to the student of access to WISR’s online courses. Cancellation is effective on the date written notice of cancellation is sent. If WISR sent the first lesson and materials, through WISR’s provision to the student of access to WISR’s online courses, before an effective cancellation notice was received, WISR shall make a refund within 45 days after the student’s return of the materials.
  10. WISR shall transmit all of the lessons and other materials to the student, through WISR’s provision to the student of access to WISR’s online courses, once the student makes an initial payment of tuition in any amount, even if they haven’t yet paid for the entire program. So long as the student is officially enrolled, even when they are not up to date in their tuition payments, WISR shall remain obligated to provide the other educational services it has agreed to provide, such as responses to student inquiries, student and faculty interaction, and evaluation and comment on lessons submitted by the student, but shall not be obligated to pay any refund, either than the required pro-rata refund of any tuition paid in advance, after access has been provided to all of WISR’s online courses, which is they vehicle by which all of the lessons and material are transmitted.
  11. Faculty feedback to students learning at a distance and submitting drafts for comment follows principles of diligent reading of student drafts and papers and responding thoughtfully in a timely fashion.Faculty make every effort to give students rapid feedback on drafts of papers and theses. Typically, faculty give students feedback on papers and other drafts that are 20 pages or less, within 7 to 10 days. Faculty may need as much as three to four weeks to read and give feedback on longer papers, and especially on drafts of theses and dissertations. Faculty are available to set up hour-long conferences with students, either face-to-face, or by phone once every week or two, as needed by students. Generally, it is best to set up appointments a week in advance, so students can coordinate their own schedules of availability with the openings in the faculty member’s schedule.
  12. All WISR students are expected to have a high degree of self-motivation and capability for self-directed learning and are expected to contact faculty for support and assistance, whenever they feel they need it. To support, student academic progress, students are expected to do the following, and although the following are student responsibilities, faculty should be supportive in reminding and guiding students to:
    • Generally, confer with a faculty member at least once every two weeks about their studies.
    • At any one time, the student should have one faculty member whom they have identified as their primary faculty advisor, and the student should communicate, and verify, with that faculty person understands that the student wishes for them to take on this role, and that they are willing to do so. Further, this should be noted in the student’s in progress transcript, and the student is responsible to update WISR’s administration (the CEO or the Chief Academic Officer) regarding the name of their current, primary faculty advisor.
    • The student should consult with their primary faculty advisor before beginning to work on a new course. In addition, students should not work on more than three courses at a time without permission from both their faculty advisor and either the President or Chief Academic Officer.
    • The student should be familiar with WISR’s policies and practices on “Faculty Review of Student Progress
  13. A student may withdraw at any time.  Notice of cancellation of an Enrollment Agreement must be in writing to WISR’s President, and a withdrawal may be effectuated by the student’s conduct, including, but not necessarily limited to, a student’s lack of attendance. Students are expected to be in touch with faculty twice per month, or at least once per month unless they notify faculty of special circumstances (e.g., health or vacation where they will be unavailable for longer than a month). If a student is disenrolled for lack of attendance, they have the opportunity to appeal to the Faculty Executive Committee, and then to the Board. Students are expected to be in touch with faculty twice per month, or at least once per month unless they notify faculty of special circumstances (e.g., health or vacation where they will be unavailable for longer than a month).
  14. Students have access to the online library database paid or by WISR, by going to https://www.lirn.net/databasesand entering the password given to them. By the terms of our agreement with LIRN students cannot share this information with anyone outside of WISR.

In addition, by signing this document, the student agrees to respect all copyright laws, which includes, but is not limited to the following considerations:

  • None of the content shared in WISR’s online courses may be shared with anyone other than students and faculty at WISR, unless it is explicitly stated that it can be shared under open access, Creative Commons licensing.
  • When using resources from LIRN, from scribed, online databases accessed through professional association memberships or library card/memberships, students may not copy and share any of those materials, unless explicitly stated as open access under Creative Commons licensing.
  • When writing papers, or making posts on the online forum, students are to cite and reference their sources. For assistance in using the proper format, consult Easy Bib (com)
  • Students having any questions about copyright issues and the sharing of articles and/or videos, should contact WISR’s librarian (cynthia.roberson@wisr.edu ), WISR’s CEO (john.bilorusky@wisr.edu) , or another faculty member for guidance.

15. WISR students are expected to collaborate with other students at WISR, and these expectations and requirements are outlined in each course.

16. In order to participate in seminars and real-time conversations with WISR faculty, all WISR students must have regularly accessible, reliable, and well-functioning internet service, sufficient to participate in seminars and oral exams by video conference, and this must be tested by a WISR staff person prior to enrollment. Having a webcam is essential for oral exams, and ideal for seminars. Having a headset with a microphone is desirable. Sometimes students are able to converse by phone, but very importantly, regular internet access is essential for online courses, and for most seminars.

17. Students should expect to spend about $50 to $100 on books (or e-books) for each course. In addition, all students are required to

1) purchase and maintain a monthly membership in ScribD (access to many required readings—books and articles, for $9/month.  www.scribd.com),

2) purchase a membership in a major professional association such as the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (www.camft.org), American Educational Research Association, or American Sociological Association. (These fees are typically less than $150/year.) Depending on the student’s interests, faculty may approve a membership in another association, instead.  All MFTs students must obtain a membership in CAMFT, because, among other things, this provides access to psychology journals through the EBSCO library online database.

3) if a California resident, the student must obtain a free library card (but requires a visit on site) to either the San Francisco or Los Angeles Public Library.  This card entitled the holder to access to important added online library databases (off site, need not be at the library), as well as, to thousands of films and videos available through Kanopy (www.kanopy.com), and some of these films are required viewing for many WISR courses. WISR will provide other access to limited number of Kanopy films, but at least to those that are required, to students who are not California residents, if the student is not able to obtain access through another library.

[Upon Enrollment, students will sign that they are aware of the above stated disclosures and requirements as well as #14 and #15 below].

18. By signing this, the student states that they understand that WISR provides no English language services for those for whom English is their second language, and by signing this, the student affirms that they understand that if they do not have a previous college degree from an institution in which English was the primary language of instruction in order to be considered for admission at WISR, they demonstrate sufficient proficiency in English through one of the assessments outlined at www.wisr.edu/admissions  Further, even students who pass one of these assessments may sometimes be admittedly only on a “provisional” basis, and in any case, they will be admitted (provisonally or not), only if in the judgement of WISR’s CEO and/or Chief Academic Officer, they demonstrate (through conversation, the writing of a brief admissions statement, and if applicable through their current work experience) that they are capable of making good progress in their studies at WISR.  Students who are admitted provisionally enroll in one course, and then their proficiency and ease in handling that course is assessed by WISR faculty before they are officially enrolled in a degree program.

19. WISR Academic Integrity and Honesty Policy: WISR embraces the value of learning that builds on the knowledge, efforts and experiences of others. In particular, WISR actively encourages students to collaborate with one another, and with others throughout the larger community. Academic honesty and integrity require that students disclose and make transparent what they have learned from others, and how their learning and inquiry are indebted to, or have been importantly influenced by, others. This includes not only making the appropriate citations of the literature used in one’s papers, theses, and dissertations, but it also includes acknowledging the informal contributions that others have made in shaping one’s ideas, questions, and actions. WISR students are encouraged to write in their own voice, discussing how their studies and inquiries have led to their conclusion, recommendations, and further lines of inquiry.             

At WISR, faculty and students meet regularly and engage in continual and detailed dialogue about the student’s studies, and for this reason, faculty are usually aware of how others have contributed to student learning. Furthermore, WISR students are expected to be highly motivated and committed to genuine inquiry, and uninterested in purely expedient strategies for producing the required academic writing. Violations of academic honesty and integrity at WISR have been virtually unheard of in our decades-long history. In case of a violation, the work submitted will not be accepted for credit, and a second violation of this standard will result in dismissal from WISR. All such decisions are subject to student appeal first to WISR’s Faculty, and then to the Board of Trustees.

Nothing in this policy should discourage students from actively and fully collaborating with one another in any aspect of their studies, including a paper, project, or thesis or dissertation. Indeed, such collaboration is encouraged, and that collaboration must be disclosed by the participating students with a written description of the process of collaboration and each student’s contributions to the collaboration.

Reporting Possible Violations:

It is the responsibility of WISR faculty to be aware of, and report on, any possible violations. As noted above: “At WISR, faculty and students meet regularly and engage in continual and detailed dialogue about the student’s studies, and for this reason, faculty are usually aware of how others have contributed to student learning.” Also, the ongoing dialogue with students in combination with end of course oral exams, enable faculty to detect any possible violations.

“Application of policy as noted above:

In case of a violation, the work submitted will not be accepted for credit, and a second violation of this standard will result in dismissal from WISR. All such decisions 

19. By signing this, the student attests that they have read the WISR catalog and/or the information on the website.

Regarding Student Records

WISR keeps all those student records on file, as required by the State of California, and this means that transcripts are permanently kept of student credit earned, and that all other records are kept for five years. State of California visiting teams are permitted to access these files to review WISR’s educational programs.

Students are permitted to review the contents of their own files–

  • their admissions (application) file,
  • their financial file (including for example, enrollment agreements),
  • their transcript file (previous transcripts and WISR transcripts once produced), and
  • their academic file (that is, their learning portfolio and their working portfolio, including the papers they have written, the course syllabi they have submitted, faculty evaluations of their projects/courses, and rough drafts and other supporting documents and media pertaining to their academic work and studies at WISR).

WISR students are encouraged, but not required, to consider their academic work as a contribution to public inquiry. However, student work is not available to the public without the student’s permission.

Neither other WISR students, alumni, nor the general public are permitted to view any portion of a student’s (or alum’s) learning portfolio, without the student’s permission.  This includes the papers, syllabi, transcripts and multimedia academic products submitted as part of their academic work at WISR.  Faculty, Board, and Advisory Committee members are permitted to view student work as are visiting teams sent to WISR by State or accreditation agencies.  Nevertheless, students are strongly encouraged to make as much of their work available to others, as they feel comfortable in doing–this includes in their portfolio, on WISR’s website, and/or larger publication. WISR faculty actively assist students in disseminating and publishing their work.

WISR will answer inquiries about a student’s degrees attained and coursework completed, only if the student has authorized WISR to do so. WISR will not answer such inquiries for those students who owe WISR money (except for those students who are repaying deferred tuition and who are up to date in making those payments).

WISR will make transcripts available to students even if they are behind in tuition payments, or owe WISR money, as per State of California regulation. The fee for each official transcript is $25. See Transcript Services for more details.

By signing this, the student attests that he or she has read the WISR catalog and/or the information on the website.

I have read, the above, and understand the above stated terms, conditions and expectations of students for learning at WISR.

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, as the first of any month of the year, and may complete their programs in any month.

40th Anniversary w-out 2015

To Read “State Regulations Requiring WISR and All Approved Schools to Obtain Accreditation by July 2020” go to: Legally Required Disclosures