Implementation of degree programs at three colleges scheduled to open at Western University of Health Sciences next fall has been officially approved by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

WesternU’s colleges of dental medicine, optometry and podiatric medicine, which will welcome their inaugural classes in August 2009, received notice Monday that the WASC Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities had authorized "substantive change implementation" requests made by the University.

Significant changes to WASC-accredited institutions – in this case, the offering of doctoral degrees in dental medicine, optometry and podiatry — require such approvals because the association accredits entire institutions rather than specific programs. WASC’s "substantive change approval" came following a site visit in October.

"To receive final WASC approval of our substantive change proposals for these three new colleges represents a strong vote of confidence in our mission, our philosophy and in our ability to implement our strategic planning,” said Dr. Philip Pumerantz, president of Western University of Health Sciences. “This accomplishment is a tribute to the skill and dedication of our professional staff."

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) is one of six regional accrediting associations in the United States. The Commission provides assistance to schools in California, Hawaii, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and East Asia.

WASC is composed of three commissions: the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities; the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges; and the Accrediting Commission for Schools.