Jul 14, 2024  
2012-2013 Catalog 
2012-2013 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

The University

Return to: About Western Washington University 

Western Washington University is situated in Bellingham, a city of 75,750 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 seven undergraduate colleges: the College of Business and Economics, the College of Fine and Performing Arts, Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Huxley College of the Environment, the College of Sciences and Technology, 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, Master of Arts, Master of Business Administration, Master of Education, Master of Music, Master in Teaching, Master of Science, and Master of Professional Accounting.

Extension Programs

See the Extended Education section in this catalog. All of Western’s extension programs, credits and degrees meet the same requirements as regular Western programs unless otherwise noted.


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; and National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), 2010 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Suite 500, Washington, DC 20036-1023.
  • Computer Science — Computing Accreditation Commission of Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc., www.abet.org;
  • Electronics Engineering Technology, Manufacturing Engineering Technology, and Plastics Engineering Technology— Technology Accreditation Commission of Accreditation Board for Engineering & Technology, Inc., 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;
  • Psychology (mental health 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;
  • Recreation — Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related Professions, National Recreation & Park Association, 22377 Belmont Ridge Rd., Ashburn, VA 20148
  • Woodring College of Education — 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 (teacher education and educational administration programs); Council on Rehabilitation in Education — 1699 Woodfield Road, Suite 300, Schaumburg, IL 60173; (rehabilitation counseling program).

The University holds membership in the Council of Graduate Schools in the United States and the Western Association of Graduate Schools.


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.


At Western, faculty research and the training of students in scientific and scholarly methods and techniques have received considerable impetus through foundation, industry and government grants. A variety of external sponsors has made awards to support faculty research, curricular development, and student research. Some of the sponsors are: 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 and various local agencies and agencies of the state of Washington.

The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP) was established to encourage and coordinate faculty research and other creative, and scholarly activity throughout the University. The office is critical for faculty who seek external funds for development and research. RSP is responsible for the fiscal management of the awards, and managing the sponsor’s compliance requirements. RSP also provides internal funding in support of scholarly endeavors.

Equal Opportunity Office

Western Washington University, in compliance with state and federal laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex (including sexual harassment), age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation and gender expression or identity, veteran’s status, or genetic information in any of it policies, procedures, or practices. This nondiscrimination policy covers admission and access to, and treatment and employment in, university programs and activities, including but not limited to academic admissions, financial aid, educational services, and employment. The EOO assists search committees in attracting broad and diverse applicant pools, in support of the University’s Affirmative Action goals.

The EOO both through formal and informal complaints, serves as a resource to faculty, staff and students in resolving discrimination complaints. In addition, the EOO provides training to the campus community on a variety of topics including Sexual Harassment Prevention, Racial Harassment, Religious Harassment, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Harassment, and Disability Awareness. The EOO welcomes all faculty, staff and students and provides advice and assistance with civil rights protection issues. Inquiries regarding the University’s equal opportunity policies and services may be directed to the Equal Opportunity Office at 360-650-3307.

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.

The Libraries

Western Libraries houses over 1.4 million volumes of books, periodicals, government documents, maps, sound recordings, videos, and more. All of these may be searched using our online catalog. The collections include unique intellectual and cultural heritage materials covering the history of the University and our geographical area such as those held at the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, as well as special collections in support of the University’s curricula. The Libraries also offer access to online periodical databases and other resources, many with full text access, available from campus or from home 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Our collection is supplemented by resources from the Orbis Cascade Alliance, a consortium of 36 academic libraries.

The Libraries serve as a vibrant living, learning space for students, offering them the opportunity to interact with information and with each other. We do this in our physical locations by offering study spaces, access to technology, and research assistance, and virtually through our website. The Libraries pride themselves on offering the same level of access to materials and services to distance learning students as to those pursuing coursework on campus.

The Libraries contribute to the academic success and lifelong learning of Western’s students by offering credit instruction, instruction in academic courses, writing instruction for students and faculty and by answering research queries at the point of need.

Academic Technology & User Services (ATUS)

Upon a student’s online activation of his or her 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.

Outdoor Sculpture Collection and Western Gallery

The historic precedent of establishing public art on a university campus as early as 1957 and the prominence of the artists in Western’s Outdoor Sculpture Collection make this University and its specific art works widely known beyond the Northwest. Considered one of 10 acclaimed university collections in the United States, Western’s sculpture spans the last half of the 20th century and is integrated with the terrain and campus architecture. The collection includes large-scale works by international, national and regional artists such as Magdalena Abakanowicz, Alice Aycock, Anthony Caro, Nancy Holt, Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Isamu Noguchi, Tom Otterness, Beverly Pepper, Richard Serra, and Mark di Suvero. Since 2006 new works by six artists have been added to the collection. Website information and a brochure are available to students and visitors who wish to learn about the 29 works. The collection is administered by a curator and an advisory board. Acquisitions are made through a thoughtful process ensuring a standard of high quality and cultural relevance while maintaining the integrity of a late 20th century and early 21st century sculpture collection of international interest.

The Western Gallery, in a wing of the Fine Arts Complex in the center of campus, has 4,500 square feet of exhibition space with sophisticated environmental controls. The gallery features temporary art exhibitions of a diverse character appropriate to our pluralistic society. As part of the educational programs of the gallery, weekly lectures during major exhibitions are scheduled involving a variety of scholars. The contemporary art exhibitions and forums offer students the opportunity to cross reference works of art with the discourse of various disciplines.

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 from throughout the University. Winner of the 2002 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Math and Engineering Mentoring, SPMC provides to biology or environmental science undergraduate majors specializing in marine science a ready opportunity to take courses and engage in special programs supporting independent study and research. Master’s of Science students who participate in the Marine and Estuarine Science Program, offered through the Department of Biology and Huxley College of the Environment, take courses and engage in thesis research at the Marine Center. Federally sponsored programs that involve both Western students and others from around the nation include the summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates, and the Multicultural Initiatives in Marine Science: Undergraduate Participation, both sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

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 analytical instrumentation base that provides students 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 extensive marine habitat for field and laboratory study, with the Mosquito Pass Study Site on San Juan Island providing additional sites useful for comparative studies. A running seawater system brings the marine environment into the controlled conditions on the laboratory to facilitate study of marine plants and animals. There are housing and dining facilities for 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, Edmonds Community College and Everett Community College.

Return to: Student Services