How To Become Accredited

Steps to Initial Accreditation

Initial ACOTE accreditation is a multi-step process which consists of:

  1. Letter of Intent: The process of seeking accreditation begins with submission of a Letter of Intent, Letter of Intent Data Form (available on the Initial Accreditation Forms page), and program director’s CV (if hired). These materials must be submitted electronically to Upon receipt, the institution will be invoiced for the nonrefundable application fee deposit.
  2. Eligibility Application: Once the new program is set up in the ACOTE Online system, the program will be instructed to submit an online Eligibility Application. Once eligibility for accreditation is determined, the program will be given a timeline for the initial accreditation process, including a date for submission of the Candidacy Application.
  3. Candidacy Application: Upon review of this application, ACOTE either grants, defers action on, or denies Candidacy Status. If Candidacy Status is granted, the program may admit its first class of students and proceed to the second step of the process, the preaccreditation review.
  4. Preaccreditation Review: In this step, the program conducts a programmatic self-study and prepares a Report of Self-Study, a comprehensive self-assessment of the program’s compliance with ACOTE Accreditation Standards. Upon review of this report, ACOTE grants, defers action on, or denies Preaccreditation Status, a decision that reflects ACOTE’s opinion of how likely the program is to meet the ACOTE Accreditation Standards by the time of the initial on-site evaluation. In preparation for the initial on-site evaluation, trained evaluators conduct a complete review of the Report of Self-Study submitted by the program.
  5. On-site Evaluation: The last step of the process is an initial on-site evaluation conducted by a two-member team. At the conclusion of the on-site evaluation, the team prepares a Report of On-Site Evaluation, which is reviewed by the program for factual accuracy. The Evaluators’ Report of On-Site Evaluation and any response from the program are then reviewed by ACOTE. ACOTE uses these materials as the basis for action regarding the accreditation status of the program and the term of accreditation awarded (5 or 7 years).