Minerva entered into a strategic alliance with KGI, a member of the Claremont University Consortium, to establish the Minerva Schools. A shared belief in the need for innovation in higher education and a focus on the practical application of knowledge led the two organizations to pursue accreditation for a completely reinvented undergraduate university experience.
KGI has three schools: the original School of Applied Life Sciences, offering both master’s and doctoral degrees and best known nationwide for innovating the Professional Sciences Master’s degree; the School of Pharmacy started in fall 2014; and Minerva Schools at KGI, also started in fall 2014.
In fall 2014, with its degree programs accredited by the Western Senior Commission on Universities and Colleges (WASC), the Minerva Schools at KGI admitted its Founding Class of students. With a second class of students matriculating in fall 2015, the Minerva Schools quadrupled its student body, furthering progress toward its extraordinary vision.
A proven innovator in higher education, KGI created the first-of-its-kind professional science Master’s degree in 1997, which has been replicated nearly 300 times by more than 130 institutions. Establishing the Minerva Schools at KGI is another step in advancing learning for the twenty-first century.
KGI and the Minerva Schools at KGI are accredited by the Western Senior College and University Commission (WASC), the regional accreditor for California, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands. Accreditation is a rigorous quality assurance process that involves the submission of extensive and detailed self-evaluation reports by the accredited institution, visits conducted by experienced peer reviewers, and final decisions made by a governing body composed of both public members and highly regarded academics from a variety of institutions. Institutions must demonstrate that they have met the Standards of Accreditation, which reflect good practice in higher education and encompass both capacity (inputs such as financial resources, governance, and qualified faculty) and effectiveness (outcomes such as student achievement, learning, and completion rates). The processes are carefully designed and implemented to ensure deep examination of all aspects of the institutions and to verify compliance with these Standards.
KGI and Minerva Project entered into an affiliation in spring 2013, under which KGI would establish the Minerva Schools at KGI (MSKGI) and seek approval of the KGI-Minerva relationship and the programs that MSKGI would offer. The affiliation was based on shared values of innovative educational programs, applied learning, and global importance and relevance. In summer 2013, KGI submitted two related proposals and extensive documentation to WASC through the process called Substantive Change. The proposals set forth the establishment of MSKGI and asked for approval of both the relationship between KGI and Minerva Project and of the first of five undergraduate degrees planned for MSKGI, the Bachelor of Science in Social Sciences.
In the six months leading to the first submission to WASC, the KGI and MSKGI team worked on the legal agreements and the two proposals, preparing hundreds of pages of narrative and supporting material. The proposal for the first degree and each of the later proposals for the four additional degrees included detailed information about the need for the program, its fit with KGI’s mission, the development and internal approval of the program, the philosophy underlying the program offering, the curriculum and student learning outcomes, the Minerva Active Learning Forum, assessment of student learning and program review, the qualifications and sufficiency of the faculty and staff, and the resources that support the program, including student services, library, residential life, and financial resources, and more.
The initial WASC approval process covering the creation of MSKGI and the first degree involved several stages:
Following that approval, KGI submitted proposals for each of its additional undergraduate degrees. These included the BA in Arts & Humanities (approved March 12, 2014), the BS in Computational Sciences (approved March 12, 2014), the BS in Natural Sciences (approved May 15, 2014) and the BS in Business (approved April 8, 2015).
Each proposal was approved by the Commission after a full review by a panel of the Substantive Change Committee and a conference call between the panel and the KGI president and other representatives culminating in a report to the Commission and KGI. Finally, the Commission has mandated a follow-up visit to MSKGI to be held in Fall 2016 to evaluate how effectively these programs have been implemented.