Student Resources

FAQ: Program Accreditation Status

If a program is not in compliance with one or more ACOTE Accreditation Standards, ACOTE may change a program’s status to Probationary Accreditation for any of the following reasons:

  1. The areas of noncompliance are so serious that the capability of the program to provide acceptable educational experiences for the students is threatened.
  2. The program has failed to document significant progress toward compliance with one or more cited areas of noncompliance.
  3. The program is in jeopardy of having its accreditation status withdrawn due to the mandated time limit for carrying areas of noncompliance.

Click on “Disclosure Statement” under the program listing to obtain more information about the reasons that the program was placed on Probationary Accreditation status. Programs on Probationary Accreditation status must submit a report to ACOTE documenting plans to return the program to full compliance with the Standards within the U.S. Department of Education-mandated time period for correction.

Probationary Accreditation is an accreditation category. During a period of Probationary Accreditation, programs are recognized and listed as being accredited and its graduates are still eligible to sit for the national certification exam.

There is NO mandate regarding OT doctoral-degree-level education. Institutions can decide to transition the occupational therapy program to the doctoral degree level, remain at the master’s degree level, or offer both degree options. For more information click here.

There is NO mandate regarding OTA associate-degree-level education. Institutions can decide to transition the occupational therapy assistant program to the baccalaureate degree level, remain at the associate’s degree level, or offer both degree options. For more information click here.

This term refers to new programs that are not yet accredited but have completed the first step in the 3-step initial accreditation process. New programs seeking initial accreditation must submit a Candidacy Application to ACOTE. The application is reviewed and ACOTE must take action to either grant or deny Candidacy Status (step 1). Not all programs are successful in obtaining Candidacy Status, and that status must be attained before students can be admitted into the program. Although the “Candidacy Status” designation does not guarantee that the program will be accredited, it indicates that the resource allocation and plan for development of the proposed program appear to demonstrate the ability to meet ACOTE Standards. After a program is granted Candidacy Status, the program will submit a Report of Self-Study for review by ACOTE (step 2) and will have an on-site evaluation (step 3).

This term refers to new programs that are not yet accredited but have completed the first and second steps in the 3-step initial accreditation process. Although the “Preaccreditation Status” designation does not guarantee that the program will be accredited, it indicates that on the basis of the paper review of the submitted materials, the program would appear to meet ACOTE Standards if fully implemented in accordance with the plans of the sponsoring institution. An on-site evaluation (step 3) will be conducted before the first class completes the academic curriculum. If the program can successfully demonstrate substantial compliance with the Standards, it will be granted accreditation. If not, accreditation will be withheld.

There is definitely a degree of risk involved in entering a program that is not yet accredited. When a program fails to obtain accreditation before the first class of student graduates, the program is no longer viable and closes. In order to be eligible to sit for the NBCOT certification examination, one must graduate from an ACOTE-accredited program. This is why it is essential for new programs to obtain accreditation before the first class of students graduates.

The students will have earned the course/credit hours taken but are not eligible for the certification examination. To be eligible for the certification examination, those students would need to transfer to a program that is accredited and complete that program’s requirements for graduation. Credits from the unaccredited program may or may not be accepted by another program.

The numbers are low, but occasionally there is a program that is not successful in obtaining accreditation. That is why the procedure requires that new programs obtain Candidacy Status from ACOTE prior to the admission of the first class of students.

As previously stated, there is definitely a degree of risk involved in entering a program that is not yet accredited because students must graduate from an ACOTE-accredited program to be eligible to sit for the NBCOT certification examination. However, all new programs must follow a 3-step initial accreditation process which allows ACOTE to monitor progress toward compliance with the ACOTE accreditation Standards. Students considering enrolling in a new program are encouraged to contact the program to obtain information on the progress made toward compliance with the Standards.