CAAHEP Accreditation Process

Accreditation is an effort to assess the quality of institutions, programs and services, measuring them against agreed-upon standards and thereby assuring that they meet those standards. In the case of post-secondary education and training, there are two kinds of accreditation: institutional and programmatic (or specialized). Institutional accreditation helps to assure potential students that a school is a sound institution and has met certain minimum standards in terms of administration, resources, faculty and facilities. Programmatic (or specialized) accreditation examines specific schools or programs within an educational institution (e.g., the law school, the medical school, the nursing program). The standards by which these programs are measured have generally been developed by the professionals involved in each discipline and are intended to reflect what a person needs to know and be able to do to function successfully within that profession. Accreditation in the health-related disciplines also serves a very important public interest. Along with certification and licensure, accreditation is a tool intended to help assure a well-prepared and qualified workforce providing health care services.

How does an educational program become CAAHEP-accredited?

While there are some differences among the 18 professions within CAAHEP, all accredited programs must go through a rigorous process that has certain elements in common:

  1. Self-Study: The program does its own analysis of how well it measures up to the established Standards.

  2. On-Site Evaluation: A team of "site visitors" travels to the institution to determine how accurately the self study reflects the status of the program and to answer any additional questions that arise.

  3. Committee Review and Recommendation: The CoA for the specific discipline will review the report from the site visitors and develop a recommendation. If there are areas where the program fails to meet the Standards, these "deficiencies" will be identified and additional information may be requested to assure that each program substantially complies with all Standards.

  4. CAAHEP Board of Directors: The CAAHEP Board of Directors will then act upon the recommendations forwarded from each CoA, assuring that due process has been met and that Standards are being applied consistently and equitably.
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  5. Length of Accreditation Awards: With the exception of initial accreditation, which is for a period of five years, an award of CAAHEP accreditation is not time-limited. When a CoA recommends that a program be accredited, they also recommend when the next comprehensive evaluation should take place. While each committee establishes its own intervals (three years, five years, seven years, etc.), the maximum interval between comprehensive reviews is ten years. A committee may also request a progress report or schedule a special, limited (focused) site visit if a program has serious problems that need to be addressed.

Only CAAHEP grants accreditation. The committee is voting to forward a recommendation of initial, continuing, transfer of sponsorship, probation, withhold or withdrawal of accreditation to the CAAHEP. For more information, visit the CAAHEP website.