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California Postsecondary Education Data Home Page

Frequently Asked Questions

The Commission

Does the Commission authorize colleges and universities to operate in California?

The California Postsecondary EducationCommission is required under State law to review and approve proposals for new public institutions of higher education. These reviews are to ensure that new university and college campuses and off-campus centers are developed in accordance with state-wide needs and priorities. However, the Commission does not directly authorize colleges and universities to operate in California.

Both the federal government and the states rely upon "accrediting agencies" (private educational associations that develop criteria and conduct peer evaluations to assess whether or not those criteria are met) as an indication of the quality of education offered by American schools and colleges. Colleges and universities must be accredited by an agency recognized by the United States Secretary of Education in order for it or its students to receive federal funds.

In California, the regional accrediting entity is the Western Association of School and Colleges (WASC). For further information about WASC you may contact:

The Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities
985 Atlantic Avenue Suite 100
Alameda, CA 94501
(510) 748-9001


The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
10 Commercial Blvd, Ste 204
Novato, CA 94949
(415) 506-0234

Private postsecondary schools and colleges are approved by the State with oversight authority vested in the Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE). The BPPE also approves non-degree granting vocational schools and programs leading to licensing. State approval is not the same as accreditation. Some state approved institutions are accredited, while others are not.

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What is the Commission?

The California Postsecondary Education Commission is the state's primary planning and advisory body on higher education. It was established in 1974 as a citizen board by the Legislature and the Governor to coordinate California colleges and universities and to provide independent, non-partisan policy analysis and recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature.

Who appoints the Commissioners? Do they have to be confirmed by the State Senate?

The Commissioners are selected by various appointing authorities including the Governor, the Senate Rules Committee, the Speaker of the Assembly, the various segments of higher education, and the State Board of Education. Senate confirmation is unnecessary. See the main Commissioners page for more information.

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