About WSU

Academic Excellence

Academic Excellence

Academic excellence


Very high research activity (Carnegie Foundation)
The University stands among 108 public and private universities in America recognized with the "very high research activity" categorization from Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Strong community engagement (Carnegie Foundation)
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching places WSU among 119 national universities and colleges that earn the Community Engagement Classification for both curricular engagement and outreach and partnerships with larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the exchange of knowledge and resources.

Top-ranked writing program that benefits students of all majors
WSU stands among the top 19 best colleges nationwide for its university-wide writing program, according to U.S. News and World Report (2014). It is the only university in the Northwest to make the list, on which it has appeared 10 times.

The program helps students from all majors to develop their writing skills using a peer tutoring model, augmented by strong faculty guidance. WSU is the only major public research university in the country to require an approved writing portfolio of graded work for graduation.

Excellent lifelong return on investment
An investment in a WSU online education pays dividends for a lifetime, according to Affordable Colleges Online. It named WSU one of the top five online programs in the state to strike the best balance between cost of attendance and lifelong earning potential.

Veteran- and military-friendly environment
For three consecutive years, WSU has ranked among the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the nation that are doing the most to embrace America's veterans as students, according to a survey conducted by Victory Media. WSU's affordable tuition and ROTC programs earned it a #1 ranking in Washington (The College Database, 2013) for students interested in military service. Military Advanced Education also named WSU a top military-friendly school (2014). In addition, WSU Online ranks among the nation's top six distance learning programs for its military-friendliness, according to the 2012 Guide to Online Schools.

Robust focus on undergraduates researching with faculty mentors
About 25 percent of WSU students engage in research, scholarship, and creative activities under the mentorship of faculty members, making original intellectual or creative contributions to their disciplines. Many student researchers represent WSU at conferences in their field, and many are co-authors in published journal articles. The annual Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA), invites students university-wide to present their findings and compete for awards.

Special first-year experience programs that foster academic success
A welcoming environment makes freshmen from widely varying backgrounds feel connected and succeed academically. Three examples:

  1. The First-Year Focus living-learning community places students from the same residence hall in one or more classes together so group learning happens within and outside of the classroom.
  2. The Common Reading Program selects one book each year that all freshmen use. Professors draw on its topics in classes across many disciplines, the authors visit campus, and faculty and other experts present special lectures and events tied to the book's topics.
  3. Professional academic and career advisors meet individually with pre-majors to plan course schedules and discuss student interests and strengths.

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College of Agricultural, Human, and
Natural Resource Sciences

Research that advances Washington agricultural industries
Thanks in part to WSU research and support, Washington growers lead the nation in apple production. Washington provides more than half of the fresh apples eaten in America. WSU researchers are world leaders in small grain genetics and breeding and have helped to make Washington one of the world's most productive wheat growing regions. In addition, the University's partnership with grape growers helped create a $3 billion a year premium wine grape industry.

Among the nation's top schools for organic agriculture
The Organic Farming Research Foundation named WSU among the top six schools in the U.S. for educational and research programs in organic agriculture. The organic agriculture systems program conducts pioneering research and offers a four-year, bachelor of science degree program as well as an online certificate in organic agriculture.

Top-ranked programs in interior design
The bachelor’s degree program is the state's only four-year program accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation. The graduate program ranks in the Top Ten Best Programs in the U.S. according to Design Intelligence, a bimonthly journal for architecture and design professionals.

Among the nation’s top three online agricultural degree programs
Offered through the University’s Center for Distance and Professional Education, the program is cited among the best by degreedirectory.org.

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College of Arts AND SCIENCES

Nationally and internationally recognized faculty scholars
Among the faculty are elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Physical Society, the American Chemical Society, the Materials Research Society, recipients of Guggenheim fellowships, and more. Several of the College’s professors have also been honored with the National Science Foundation CAREER award. Faculty members include a pioneer in survey methodology, a winner of the American Book Award, and world-class musicians who have performed at Carnegie Hall. In the social sciences, the University ranks sixth in the nation in research and development expenditures (National Science Foundation). Many professors serve as editors of scholarly journals.  

    Plant scientists and zoologists who lead the nation in scholarly productivity
    Faculty researchers in the plant sciences rank among the top 2 in the nation for scholarly productivity, while zoology researchers rank among the top 7, according to the 2007 Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index, developed by Academic Analytics and released by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    At the forefront in shock physics
    Many of the nation’s top shock physicists have been trained in the University’s Institute for Shock Physics, which serves as a national resource in shock wave and static high-pressure science and related areas through scientific innovations and rigorous education.

    One of the best schools in the nation to study jazz
    DownBeat magazine features WSU in its 2011 edition of “Where to Study Jazz.” Jazziz magazine features WSU in its list of the best educational institutions for studying jazz: “The ‘A’ List: 2011 Education Guide.

    Physics research recognized worldwide
    The Department of Physics is home to internationally recognized research groups in astrophysics, materials and optical physics, matter under extreme conditions, and novel states of matter.

    World-renowned sociology faculty
    Faculty in the Department of Sociology are recognized worldwide in the areas of environmental sociology and social psychology. The reputation of the department is confirmed by the fact that it has served, in recent years, as the editorial home for several major sociological journals, including American Sociological Review, Criminology, and the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

    Outstanding research and laboratory experiences for undergraduates
    Undergraduates are afforded opportunities to learn to use the latest research equipment in the labs of top scientists and often work on independent research projects. In their first jobs, many WSU science graduates report that their laboratory skills more than matched those of other new employees with degrees from other top institutions.

    Distinguished scholars in the humanities
    The College’s faculty have distinguished themselves in scholarship focused on cultural understanding, securing major grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities. For example, a $476,000 grant awarded to Professor Kim Christen enables her to continue the development and dissemination of Mukurtu, a digital archive tool aimed at the specific needs of indigenous libraries, museums, and communities globally.

    Social and behavioral research that contributes significantly to human health
    Social and behavioral scientists in the college conduct funded research combating substance abuse, dementia, fatigue-related accidents, and other major threats to health and safety.

    Fine arts faculty whose work is exhibited in top galleries worldwide
    The practicing artists who comprise the Fine Arts studio faculty exhibit their work in leading galleries around the world. The Department of Fine Arts’ visiting artist program brings students face to face with artists from the Northwest and beyond.

    World-renowned philosophy conference
    The annual Inland Northwest Philosophy Conference attracts leading philosophers from all over the world.

    Chemistry degrees certified by the American Chemical Society
    Undergraduate degrees in chemistry carry the added value and stature that come with being ACS certified.

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College of Business

The nation's #1 online MBA programs
The College of Business’ online Masters of Business Administration and Executive MBA programs are the best online graduate business programs in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report’s Top Online Education rankings (January 2013).

Among four percent of business schools worldwide with AACSB accreditation at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels
The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the most respected business program accrediting entity, has accredited all levels of academic programs in the WSU College of Business. The WSU accounting program is one of only 176 programs worldwide with separate AACSB accounting accreditation.

Hospitality program recognized worldwide
The School of Hospitality Business Management ranks ninth in the world for articles contributed to scholarly journals—a measure of faculty research productivity. (Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, 2011). A unique aspect of the program is its engagement of executives from major senior care services companies to train students in managing the burgeoning number of senior living communities nationwide. The University's chapter of Eta Sigma Delta (ESD), an international honor society for hospitality management students, conducted so many successful activities that it was selected from more than 60 chapters worldwide to receive the 2012 ESD Chapter of Distinction Award, the organization’s highest honor.

Outstanding international business program
The nationally recognized International Business Institute sponsors faculty-led global learning programs in China, Greece, Spain, Switzerland, Tanzania, and Thailand. The international business program for undergraduates ranks among the nation's top 20 and stands 13th among public national universities (US News & World Report, 2013). WSU offers students worldwide the rare opportunity to earn two bachelors' degrees simultaneously from institutions on different continents: a degree in international business from C├ęsar Ritz Colleges in Switzerland along with a WSU degree in hospitality business management.

Annual Business Plan Competition that spawns entrepreneurial ventures
Student teams from three continents vie for $150,000 in awards. But the impact of the competition far outlasts the awards ceremony. Many contestants turn their plans into reality by launching their new ventures.

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Edward R. Murrow College of Communication

Nationally recognized research exploring media literacy and drug awareness
Murrow College research on media literacy and drug awareness earned top rankings from the Communication Institute for Online Scholarship (2010). Professors' and graduate students' recent publications received top honors from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), the National Communication Association, and the International Communication Association.

One of the nation's top 25 journalism schools
The Murrow College stands among the top 25 journalism schools in the country according to a survey by NewsPro Magazine, a national magazine for news professionals.

Faculty who have won regional and national teaching awards
Murrow College faculty members have been honored for instructional excellence in journalism, broadcasting, and public relations.

Students who consistently win top honors in national competitions
Recent awards were bestowed by Associated Collegiate Press, Alliance for Women in Media Foundation (the Gracie Award), the Society of Professional Journalists, and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Northwest Chapter (Emmy awards).

The backbone of Northwest Public Radio, a statewide service
Northwest Public Radio, a service of The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, now serves listeners across Washington State, bringing NPR news and classical music to audiences from the Puget Sound area to the Palouse.

Most comprehensive undergraduate communication program in the Northwest
The Murrow College offers programs in advertising, broadcasting, communication studies, journalism, and public relations. It offers the only comprehensive broadcasting program in the state of Washington.  

Opportunities for hands-on, multimedia learning
The Murrow College is noted for combining professional skill building and theory and is one of only a few programs in the nation that airs a daily, student-produced television newscast.  The Murrow College internship program includes opportunities for students to hone their skills with professional public television and public radio staff.

One of the nation’s top 25 doctoral programs
The Murrow College’s doctoral studies program stands among America’s best, according to the National Research Council (2010).


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College of Education

Research centers that address critical issues in education

  1. The Learning & Performance Research Center examines which instruction and testing methods succeed, and which don’t. It is supported by $1.3 million annually in external funding. Graduate student researchers have interned at test and research firms, presented and published their research, and obtained leadership roles in national organizations.
  1. The University increasingly engages in research related to science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, fostering collaboration among education faculty, K-12 schools and other universities in Washington and across the country. College of Education faculty take leading roles in the WSU STEM Education Partnership and Project Lead the Way, and research efforts such as the National Science Foundation-funded TEACH Math and Making Mathematics Reasoning Explicit projects.
  2. The Pacific Northwest Center for Mestizo and Indigenous Research and Outreach illuminates social, economic, educational, and political conditions of Latino/Mestizo and Native/Indigenous communities. It addresses issues related to educational achievement gaps, poverty, health, and discrimination on individual and institutional levels.

Accredited academic programs

  1. The doctoral program in counseling psychology is one of approximately 75 such programs to be accredited by the American Psychology Association.
  2. The program in athletic training education is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Athletic Training Education (CAATE).
  3. The graduate and undergraduate programs in teacher preparation, administrator preparation, and school counselor preparation are approved by the Washington State Board of Education.

WSU’s educational leadership program certifies 70 percent of the state’s school district superintendents, so it plays a significant role in shaping management of the state’s public schools.  An increasing number of superintendents go on to earn a doctoral degree in educational leadership (Ed.D.) from WSU, which enables them to specialize in K-12 leadership, higher education leadership, or teacher leadership.

National and international leaders in the field
Many College of Education faculty scholars hold national and international leadership positions in their professional organizations.

Each year students nationwide vie for admission to WSU's highly competitive undergraduate program in sport management. Directing the program is Professor (and former athletic coach) Cathryn Claussen, an international authority in gender issues and sport law who co-authored the textbook Sport Law: A Managerial Approach.

Outstanding preparation for National Board teaching certification exams
Teachers who complete WSU’s National Board support program regularly outperform their peers across the state and nation when seeking certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Partnerships with universities worldwide
The College embraces and promotes international education. Through a longtime partnership with the Board of Education in Nishinomiya, Japan, the University brings Japanese faculty members to Pullman and sends WSU educators to teach English in Nishinomiya schools. In addition, students and faculty collaborate with nine universities in Thailand to modernize and privatize those university systems. Every year a select group of WSU teacher education students get their field experience at U.S. Department of Defense schools overseas.

An annual conference that attracts an international audience
The WSU College of Education hosts the annual Globalization, Diversity & Education Conference, which focuses on the issues of education and social justice in a global society. It draws scholars from around the country and overseas. The conference is organized by the Cultural Studies and Social Thought program, which offers a rigorous and individually tailored course of Ph.D. study that focuses on the problems of culture and power in education.

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College of Engineering and Architecture

Leaders in energy, environment, and health research
WSU stands among the nation’s top universities for its developments in clean technology. For example:

  1. The College has partnered with The Boeing Company to develop aviation biofuels.
  2. Working with the University of Washington and Northwest power industry organizations, it has received $2.5 million from the Department of Energy to develop a program to train engineers in clean energy and the smart electric power grid.
  1. WSU’s Institute for Sustainable Design bridges disciplines to design and construct holistic, sustainable communities.
  2. A partnership between WSU and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory (BSEL) aims to develop and deploy sustainable biomass-based technologies that reduce dependence on petroleum imports and improve energy security, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Faculty and alumna have launched successful engineering-based companies, such as Schweitzer Engineering and Decagon Devices.

Strong undergraduate research opportunities
The College offers four Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Across all colleges, the University offers six REU programs, providing more opportunities for undergraduates to get involved in research than any other university in the Northwest and more than approximately 90 percent of universities nationwide.

Top training ground for high-tech leaders
WSU stands among 22 colleges in the nation doing the best job educating technology leaders, according to news website “The Daily Beast.” The site’s editors examined biographies of technology executives from the nation’s biggest companies and most promising startups to identify “which colleges have turned out the most undergraduates destined for high-tech greatness.”

The University’s excellence in educating future leaders was also recognized with a prestigious Kauffman Award for Excellence in Engineering or Technology Entrepreneurship Education, which in 2008 honored WSU’s Harold Frank Engineering Entrepreneurship Institute. The award recognizes leadership and innovation in engineering/technology entrepreneurship education. In addition, WSU students consistently stand among the top 3 winners of the University’s annual business plan competition.

Graduate program in architecture among the top 6 in the West
Washington State University's School of Architecture and Construction Managementearns top rankings. (Design Intelligence, 2012)

Internationally recognized student outreach activities in materials science and engineering
The WSU chapter of Material Advantage, a national materials science and engineering organization for students, was one of only five worldwide recognized as a 2011 Chapter of Excellence for its outreach efforts and participation in professional society meetings.

Multidisciplinary doctoral programs with research opportunities in the fields of environment and health
Through the National Science Foundation's Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) program, faculty members have received two prestigious awards totaling $6 million to support graduate student education.

Faculty recognized nationally for their scholarly achievements
Among the faculty are members of the National Academy of Engineering, the most prestigious honor in the engineering field, as well as fellows of prominent scientific societies: the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Institute of Physics, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), among others. A quarter of tenure-seeking faculty members are recipients of the prestigious National Science Foundation Career Award. The faculty also includes a recipient of NASA achievement awards, recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, Fulbright Scholars, and more.

Graduates who are work-ready on day one
Academic programs emphasize hands-on, problem-solving experience, which is reinforced in student club activities. For example, the WSU Electric Vehicle Team works to build an electric car while developing hands-on skills and preliminary engineering design experience.

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Honors College

Top students and accomplished alumni
The Honors College attracts top students in all majors from throughout the United States and around the world. Honors alumni have a long and distinguished record of leadership and impact at the local, state, national, and global levels—and at WSU.

Distinct advantages for students
Students accepted into the Honors College can pursue any major available at WSU, but enjoy the advantages of the unique Honors College curriculum, small class sizes, face-to-face interactions with top faculty, and a community of students with shared interests. Class sizes are typically capped at 25 students.

Curriculum that fosters global awareness and research acumen
The Honors College curriculum lets students choose among dozens of specialized classes in place of required general education courses. Introductory courses foster skills in research as well as in oral and written communication. Students examine international issues in depth and build proficiency in a second language. Nearly a third of Honors students study abroad at least once as undergraduates. Many enroll in study-abroad classes led by Honors College faculty. The curriculum culminates in completion of a senior thesis.

    A rigorous thesis requirement
    Honors students complete a thesis project, researching an academic question of importance to them, documenting their analysis and conclusions, and orally presenting their work to faculty evaluators. The thesis project develops research and communication skills; showcases academic achievements, interests, and talents; and requires students to work closely with a faculty member. Many alumni report that their Honors thesis project was one of their most valuable undergraduate experiences.

    Accelerated track to a DVM degree
    For more than two decades, the Honors College Pre-Admitted Veterinary Program enables selected undergraduates to enroll in a rigorous Honors curriculum that dovetails with veterinary medicine prerequisites. Honors students with 3.5+ GPAs can interview as sophomores for pre-admittance to the world-renowned WSU College of Veterinary Medicine. This Honors program helps students in the combined baccalaureate/DVM program to complete their undergraduate and professional education in a total of seven years instead of eight.

    Academic involvement and civic engagement
    Students in the Honors College frequently make presentations at industry conferences and at the Western Regional Honors Conference. They lead and serve in many community projects each year. Not surprisingly, Honors College students comprise a large share of participants in WSU’s annual Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) competition.

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College of Nursing

The state’s #1 source of newly licensed nurses
Of all Bachelor of Science in Nursing graduates in the state, the largest share—31 percent—graduate from the WSU College of Nursing (2010 figures). Employers seek out WSU graduates for their excellence in nursing practice.

    Expanding faculty research
    In seven years, the number of faculty research grants has more than doubled, from 66 in 2006 to 140 in June, 2012. During that same period, faculty researchers were awarded $27.5 million in grant dollars for studies on a wide range of topics, among them diabetes, obesity, substance abuse, rural and community health, and underserved populations and health disparities.

    At the forefront in clinical simulation
    WSU was among ten schools chosen to participate in a recently completed national study evaluating the ideal mix of simulation and live clinical training in nursing education. Simulation is a method of teaching future health professionals how to provide safe patient care using actors, manikins, and fellow students in realistic health care settings. Clinical practice and simulation labs are located at the three sites where Bachelor of Science in Nursing courses are taught, and students practice 72 fundamental skills during their first three semesters. Faculty members and doctoral students are simulation experts.

    National leader in distance delivery of nursing education
    The College’s more than 1,000 nursing students span five locations: Spokane, Yakima, the Tri-Cities, Vancouver, and Walla Walla. Through distance learning technologies, students at all locations benefit from instruction and resources not otherwise available at their home sites. Online courses give much-needed flexibility to students balancing careers and families. Depending on the program, students can participate in coursework and lectures at their own convenience.

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College of Pharmacy

An accredited Pharm.D. program
The four-year professional Pharm.D. (Doctor of Pharmacy) program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).

Students serving as national leaders
WSU pharmacy students hold leadership positions on the student council of the National Community Pharmacy Association.

Students who win top awards
WSU students are consistent award winners and finalists in American Pharmacists Association competitions for business plans, patient outreach activities and patient counseling skills, as well as volunteer service in pharmacy.

A commitment to provide health care to the community
WSU pharmacy students provide 300 hours each of health care to people in Pullman and Spokane during their hands-on training.  In addition, the College of Pharmacy provides skilled responders for public health emergencies in any of the seven eastern Washington counties when called upon by the Spokane Regional Health District. Pharmacy faculty members also provide direct patient care at their practice sites at hospitals, pharmacies, nonprofit community service organizations and others.

Geriatric pharmacy experts who teach, conduct research, and provide care
Several faculty are Certified Geriatric Pharmacists who mentor pharmacy students and fellows while providing direct patient care for an elderly population in Spokane and conducting research into medication issues in elderly populations.

Faculty recognized for their scholarly achievements
Faculty members include fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, the American Association of Diabetes Educators and the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists.

Statewide mentoring network of pharmacy professionals
The College has an active and well-trained network of 350 pharmacists in Washington state serving as mentors to pharmacy students for six-week clerkships in their private practices.

Drug Information Center (DIC)—a resource for professionals statewide
Health care professionals from across Washington state call the College’s DIC for prescription drug information. The center’s director, Dr. Danial E. Baker, is a respected author of new drug reviews for Facts & Comparisons, a publication providing drug information to pharmacists.

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Veterinary Medicine

Research cited by scientists worldwide
Veterinary and health science research conducted by WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and School for Global Animal Health is often cited by peer scientists in peer-reviewed publications more frequently than research done in any other U.S. university.

Faculty who are leaders in scholarly productivity
Faculty researchers in veterinary medical sciences rank among the top 3 in the nation for scholarly productivity, according to the 2007 Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index, developed by Academic Analytics and released by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Research center that works to control emerging disease worldwide
From Avian influenza to West Nile virus, nearly all new diseases in humans come from animals. Through its School for Global Animal Health, WSU pursues innovative solutions for the prevention of zoonotic diseases, or infections transmitted from animals to humans. Researchers explore vaccination and other strategic interventions in animal populations and the environment that will reduce pathogen levels below thresholds required for transmission.

One of the best-equipped veterinary teaching hospitals in the nation
The hospital is outfitted with sophisticated diagnostic and treatment technologies, including MRI and computerized tomography (CT scan) for both large and small animals, ultrasound, endoscopy, arthroscopy, digital fluoroscopy, nuclear scintigraphy for both large and small animals, a linear accelerator for producing high energy x-ray radiation and focused electron beams for treatment of cancer, x-ray capability for large and small animals, and complete digital image transmittal capability to send images instantaneously from the hospital to the classroom and around the world.

Diagnostic laboratory that safeguards public health
The Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (WADDL) is a founding member of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, a network of 12 regional laboratories responsible for surveillance of and response to exotic disease outbreaks affecting livestock—among them Foot and Mouth Disease, Classical Swine Fever, Exotic Newcastle Disease, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza and others. As a part of the network, the WADDL works closely with USDA to provide diagnostic services, consultation, disease surveillance, and outreach in order to safeguard animal health, the food supply, and public health. In addition, the WADDL contributes to Washington State University and the College of Veterinary Medicine through discovery, scholarly activity, and education.

Only program in the Northwest that is fully accredited and exceeds federal standards for animal care and use and for veterinary medical education
The College of Veterinary Medicine is accredited by four key national accrediting agencies: the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education (AVMA-COE), the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC), the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD), and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

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Additional resources

Our A-Z index provides a comprehensive list of links to all of the University’s services, programs, and units.

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