Jun 22, 2024  
2023-2024 Catalog 
2023-2024 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

The University

Return to: About Western Washington University  

Western Washington University is situated in Bellingham, a city of 87,574 overlooking Bellingham Bay and many of Puget Sound’s 172 San Juan Islands. The University is 90 miles north of Seattle, 55 miles south of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and an hour’s drive from Mount Baker.

Since the first class of 88 students entered New Whatcom Normal School in 1899, the school has grown into the third largest institution of higher education in the state. The Normal School became Western Washington College of Education in 1937, Western Washington State College in 1961, and achieved university status in 1977.

Academic Programs and Degrees

Western Washington University is organized into a Graduate School and eight undergraduate colleges: the College of Business and Economics, the College of the Environment, the College of Fine and Performing Arts, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the College of Science and Engineering, Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, Western Libraries, and Woodring College of Education.

To fulfill its academic objectives, Western’s curriculum includes a program of broad general education; intensive studies designed to develop scholarly competence in the arts and sciences; professional programs for both public school personnel and a variety of other professionals; and graduate programs in professional education, the arts, the sciences, humanities, and business areas.

Western’s undergraduate and graduate programs lead to the following degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Arts in Education, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Arts, Master of Business Administration, Master of Education, Master of Fine Arts, Master of Music, Master in Teaching, Master of Science, and Master of Professional Accounting.

Outreach and Continuing Education

Outreach and Continuing Education (OCE) supports and delivers Western programs to students and community members within and beyond the borders of Bellingham campus.

OCE connects diverse learners to the Western Experience by collaborating with colleges, departments and the community, linking university resources with educational needs and opportunities both on and off campus — including international education opportunities — in support of the State’s education attainment goals and Western’s strategic goals.

OCE at Western had its beginnings in 1912 when the first home study courses were created for teachers. Fast forward to the 21st century where OCE has supported the expansion and diversification of Western’s offerings in Bellingham and throughout the Puget Sound region, emphasizing community college partnerships to deliver flexible degree pathways and educational opportunities for all ages.

OCE supports undergraduate, graduate, certificate/endorsement, and online programs. Individual online learning courses are offered via Term-Based online and Self-Paced independent learning online for degree completion and professional development purposes through WesternOnline. OCE also facilitates Western’s Summer Session.

OCE reaches out to the public and private sectors with academic programs for youth, non-credit enrichment courses for lifelong learners, and professional development for those seeking career advancement opportunities. In addition, OCE facilitates conferences for groups and organizations, both on- and off-campus.


The University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities to offer work at the bachelor’s and master’s degree level. The following colleges, departments and/or programs are also accredited:

  • Chemistry — American Chemical Society, 1155 Sixteenth St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036.
  • College of Business and Economics — AACSB International-The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, 777 South Harbour Boulevard, Suite 750, Tampa, FL 33602-5730.
  • Communication Sciences and Disorders (graduate program in speech language pathology) — American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s Council on Academic Accreditation, 2200 Research Boulevard, Rockville, MD, 20850-3289; (Clinical Doctorate in Audiology, Au.D.) The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2200 Research Boulevard, #310, Rockville, MD 20850.
  • Communication Sciences and Disorders (doctorate program in audiology) — The Clinical Doctorate in Audiology, AuD is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2200 Research Boulevard #310, Rockville, Maryland 20850, 800-498-2071 or 301-296-5700.
  • Computer Science — Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET, 415 North Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21201, www.abet.org.
  • Electrical Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, and Plastics and Composites Engineering — Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, 415 North Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21201, www.abet.org.
  • Industrial Design — National Association of Schools of Arts and Design, 11250 Roger Bacon Dr., Suite 21, Reston, VA 20190.
  • Music — National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), 11250 Roger Bacon Drive #21, Reston, VA 20190; 703-437-0700.
  • Psychology (clinical mental health counseling and school counseling master’s degree programs) — Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, 1001 North Fairfax Street, Suite 510, Alexandria, VA 22314; National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), 2010 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Suite 500, Washington, DC 20036-1023; and the Washington State Professional Educator Standards Board, P.O. Box 47236, Olympia, WA 98504-7236.
  • Public Health — Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), an independent agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit schools of public health, and public health program outside schools of public health, 1010 Wayne Avenue, Suite 220, Silver Spring, MD 20910. ceph.org.
  • Recreation Management and Leadership — Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related Professions, National Recreation & Park Association, 22377 Belmont Ridge Rd., Ashburn, VA 20148.
  • Urban Planning and Sustainable Development — Planning Accreditation Board – PAB, www.planningaccreditationboard.org, 2334 W. Lawrence Avenue – Suite 209, Chicago, IL 60625.
  • Woodring College of Education — Program approval by the Washington State Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB), P.O. Box 47236, Olympia, WA 98504-7236 (teacher education and educational administration programs); Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), 3100 Clarendon Blvd., Suite 600, Arlington, VA 22201-5332 (Special Education program); National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), 1401 H Street NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20005 (Early Childhood Education program); Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), 1001 North Fairfax Street, Suite 510, Alexandria, VA 22314; (rehabilitation counseling program); program approval by the Washington State Department of Health, Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission, P.O. Box 47864, Olympia, WA 98504-7877 and Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), One Dupont Circle NW, Suite 530, Washington, D.C., 20036-1120 (nursing RN-to-BSN program).

The University holds membership in the Council of Graduate Schools in the United States and the Western Association of Graduate Schools. More information on the University’s accreditation.

To request copies of the University’s accreditation, licensing, or approval documents, please contact the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, 516 High Street, MS-9033, Bellingham, WA 98225.


As part of an ongoing effort to assure the quality of the education received by its students, Western Washington University conducts a comprehensive assessment program designed to monitor and continually improve student learning. This assessment program conforms with guidelines established by the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Board. From time to time students may be asked to participate in outcomes assessment by completing satisfaction surveys, sitting for achievement examinations, compiling portfolios of their academic work, or evaluating their own work and the quality of instruction in their classes. The purpose of all such assessment activities is to monitor and continually improve the quality of Western’s academic program.

Students are strongly encouraged to participate in these assessment efforts. Participants can be assured that assessment results are always treated with the strictest professional confidentiality.


The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP) encourages, facilitates, and supports faculty and student research, creative activities, and scholarly pursuits. Through pre-award, post-award, and compliance, RSP assists faculty and students in areas vital for success in their scholarly endeavors. Pre-award supports individuals and teams during the proposal writing and submission phase, while post-award is responsible for the fiscal management of funded projects. RSP’s compliance area focuses on the ethical conduct of research, includes support for human subjects and animal research, and administers university policies in these areas. RSP works closely with Contracts Administration to ensure intellectual property issues, right to publish, and areas important to scholarly pursuits and academic freedom are appropriately established for each project. RSP also provides internal funding in support of scholarly endeavors for faculty and students.

A variety of external sponsors has made awards to support faculty research, curricular development, and student research. Examples of sponsors include: the National Institutes of Health, National Endowment for the Arts, National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Education, Department of Transportation, the Corporation for National and Community Service, Environmental Protection Agency, Canadian Embassy, National Endowment for the Humanities, U.S. Forest Service, American Chemical Society, National Park Service, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Small Business Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, The Research Corporation, the Murdock Charitable Trust, the Joint Center for Aerospace Technology Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, Tetra Tech, the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians, the John Templeton Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, C and D Zodiac, the Huntington Society of Canada, Salish Kootenai College, Evolving Earth Foundation, Batelle Pacific NW Pacific National Lab, and various other local agencies and agencies of the state of Washington.

Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance

Western Washington University, in compliance with applicable laws and in furtherance of its commitment to fostering an environment that welcomes and embraces diversity, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex (including pregnancy and parenting status), disability, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status or genetic information in its programs or activities, including employment, admissions, and educational programs. Students, faculty or staff who believe they have been treated unfairly based on a legally protected characteristic may contact Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance (CRTC) for advice and assistance. CRTC works to mediate discrimination concerns, if possible, and investigates and resolves formal complaints should they be filed.

The Director for Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance serves as the campus Title IX Coordinator and ADA Coordinator. Sexual violence (including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking) is prohibited by Title IX and violates civil rights and criminal law. Survivors of sexual violence have the right to file a discrimination complaint and seek assistance from CRTC.

CRTC provides training to the campus community on sexual harassment prevention and a wide variety of other Civil Rights and diversity related topics. The office also works to increase access to WWU employment for people of color, women, people with disabilities, and veterans who have historically faced barriers to employment opportunities. Inquiries may be directed to the Director for Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance, Title IX and ADA Coordinator, Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance, Western Washington University, Old Main 126, MS 9021, 516 High Street, Bellingham, WA 98225; 360-650-3307 (voice) or 711 (Washington Relay); crtc.wwu.edu.

Academic Facilities

The main campus and its 91 buildings occupy 215 acres along Sehome Hill overlooking Bellingham Bay and downtown Bellingham. Other University properties, such as the marine laboratory at Shannon Point in Anacortes, support regional educational and conservancy programs.

In addition, off-campus courses and programs are held at various sites. The University has on-campus residence halls and student apartments for more than 4,000 students.

The beautiful natural setting of the main campus and its award-winning architecture make Western Washington University a stimulating place for work and study.

Western Libraries

Western Libraries and its Learning Commons partners provide extensive physical and virtual learning opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to interact with information and with each other. The range of library support and expertise includes individual and collaborative study spaces, online learning modules, computer and digital media technology, integrated research and writing assistance, tutoring and study skills support, a number of credit courses, and many other programs and services designed for students pursuing coursework in Bellingham and on Western’s other campuses.

The Western Libraries collections consist of over 1.5 million books, journals, government documents, maps, audio recordings, videos, and other media funded by an annual budget of just over $2.2 million. Special collections in physical and digital formats include but are not limited to university and local history, children’s and teen literature, Mongolian and Inner Asian Studies, Pacific Northwest Studies, and the scholarship and creative activity of Western student, staff and faculty. The Libraries also provides access to an extensive list of licensed online databases and other electronic resources, many with full-text access, available from campus or from home 24/7. Membership in the Orbis Cascade Alliance, a regional consortium of 38 academic libraries in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, supplements Western’s collections.

Libraries personnel contribute to the academic success and lifelong learning of Western’s students, staff, and faculty by offering for-credit courses, individualized instruction sessions, expert research, writing, and tutoring support, and meaningful campus and community dialog designed to advance teaching and learning.

Academic Technology & User Services (ATUS)

Upon a student’s online activation of a Universal ID and Password, key resources become available, including the MyWestern portal, the WWU network and WWU wireless network, use of more than 20 general university computer labs and numerous departmental labs with scanners and printers, residence hall computer labs, and the Student Technology Center (STC).

General university computer labs are open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week during the academic year, and provide general use software for Windows and Macintosh users. In addition, academic departments provide computer and software resources which are specific to the needs of students in their disciplines.

The Student Technology Center offers classes in the use of software, multimedia tools, and website development, in addition to printing of specialized materials for academic coursework.

Laptop computers for use on the wireless network may be borrowed at Wilson Library, Viking Union and several other campus locations. Multimedia equipment is available for checkout at ATUS Classroom Services and the STC.

The ATUS Help Desk, Haggard Hall 123 provides computer and software support to all campus communities. The Help Desk staff can be called at 360-650-3333.

University Public Art Collection and Western Gallery

Located at the center of the Western campus, the Western Gallery is committed to provide an environment for learning and critical discussion for the whole University, through diverse art exhibitions, interdisciplinary programs, and publications. The Gallery produces its own exhibitions and presents five to six temporary art exhibits annually, concentrating on national and international art. Long term exhibitions of Northwest paintings from Western’s art collections are shown in three smaller galleries in the WWU Performing Arts Center.

Western’s outdoor sculpture collection has twice been selected one of ten most important university campus collections in the country. Integrated with the terrain, architecture, and social climate of the 10 acre area, the sculptures are an integral part of the community’s everyday life. They create a rich artistic environment for self-directed learning and for teaching through interpretation. The collection includes major works by distinguished contemporary artists, including Magdalena Abakanowicz, Alice Aycock, Scott Burton, Anthony Caro, Nancy Holt, David Ireland, Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Isamu Noguchi, Tom Otterness, Beverly Pepper, Richard Serra, Do Ho Suh, Mark di Suvero, Sarah Sze, George Trakas, Ulrich Rückreim, Meg Webster and Fred Wilson.

Shannon Point Marine Center

Located on an 87-acre campus in Anacortes, Washington, the Shannon Point Marine Center (SPMC) provides facilities and programs that support the study of marine science on the part of students and faculty throughout the University. Winner of the 2002 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Math and Engineering Mentoring, SPMC provides outstanding hands-on experiential learning experiences on the coast and an opportunity to engage in special programs supporting supervised independent study and research. Undergraduate courses at the marine lab are offered primarily through the Marine and Coastal Science program, as well as the Biology, Geology, and Environmental Sciences Departments. The Master’s of Science students who participate in the Marine and Estuarine Science Program, offered through the Biology and Environmental Sciences Departments, take courses and engage in thesis research at the Marine Center.  SPMC offers a long-running National Science Foundation summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, open to undergraduate applicants at Western and other institutions around the nation.

Only an hour’s drive from the main campus in Bellingham, SPMC’s facilities are designed to provide the most up-to-date opportunities for study of marine science on the part of both undergraduates and graduate students. Included is a well-equipped academic vessel fleet that provides ready access to the rich marine environment in the waters surrounding SPMC and a sophisticated array of analytical instrumentation that provides distinctive opportunities for education in the principles of marine science and training in the application of modern field and laboratory investigative techniques.

The SPMC campus provides access to extensive marine habitats for field and laboratory study, including the nearby Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. A running seawater system brings the marine environment into the controlled conditions of the laboratory to facilitate study of marine organisms. Housing and shared kitchen facilities are available for up to 24 people. The Shannon Point Marine Center of Western Washington University also provides a marine outlet for the SPMC Consortium that includes Skagit Valley College and Edmonds Community College.

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